How does my morning routine change after the train timetable change in May 2011? Before that, a Werribee train would take me from Westona to Altona, Seaholme, Newport, then express to Footscray followed by express to North Melbourne. So it is basically just 4 stations in between.

Now, a Laverton train will stop all stations (with 3 additional stations – Spotswood, Yarraville and Seddon) except for South Kensington. In the past, I could reach my workplace at Parkville as quickly as within 35 minutes, now it will take about an hour or more. Even this extended time is not guaranteed due to increased train cancellations and delays on the Altona Loop. Furthermore, train departures from Westona are now scheduled at more awkward timings and intervals, and at lower frequencies, when compared to the old timetable. This means that I need to wake up and leave my house much earlier to accommodate these changes.

What I find very puzzling is that the city-bound Laverton trains often make unscheduled stops at South Kensington. How can this be so when these trains are not supposed to stop at South Kensington according to the timetable?  I will like to hazard a few explanations:

  • The train driver is very kind and will like to reduce the waiting times of those passengers at South Kensington.
  • City-bound Werribee and Williamstown trains are scheduled to pick up passengers at South Kensington. But since they are behind schedules, they are ordered to skip South Kensington, passing the stranded passengers to the later-arriving city-bound Laverton train instead.
  • Due to earlier train cancellations and delays, there is a buildup of passengers at South Kensington so city-bound Laverton trains are ordered to pick up the tab.
  • Due to signal failure or congestion at North Melbourne, the city-bound Laverton is stuck. Since the train has to wait anyway before being cleared to drive into North Melbourne, the driver decides to do the passengers at South Kensington a favour by allowing them to board the train.
  • Metro decides to pay back the Altona Loop commuters for their constant complaints by occasionally extending their journey times (just a joke as I doubt this explanation will turn out to be true).

How I wish that Metro can be “fairer” and make occasional unscheduled stops through the Altona Loop? Please don’t bank on this unrealistic dream – it will never happen!