Hey Brenton, as you're the regular traveller on the Bendigo line, specifically on the UP...how late does an UP Bendigo have to be at Sunbury before the pin gets pulled and the spark which is scheduled to follow the UP express, gets the top green and the Bendigo has to follow...AND is there any scope at Watergardens if the train controller is imaginative and signals a 'run-through' that spark at Watergardens so the UP Bendigo can gain a few mins
Mike. (back on the buses for three weeks... )
G'day Mike, sorry to hear about yet more busses.
The first thing to remember is that there is basically no such thing as a clear path for Bendigo trains in the Metro area, the frequency of sparks just doesn't allow it. Some services such as the 09.14 Down are even timetabled to follow SAS sparks. Pretty much every service is going to run up the back of the proceeding service at some point.
The window for my Up PM service is pretty wide at Sunbury, there is a Metro departure at 5.40pm according to the TT and the next is 6.20. We normally get in at around 6.05. The problem is that there are SAS services departing Watergardens at 6.11 and 6.20.
So normally we fly out of Sunbury hitting close to 160 after Diggers but the fun really starts at Calder Park. You know you are in for a slow ride if the service starts to slow before Holden Rd (where the big Servo is on the Calder) and it is not unusual to crawl through the Calder Park Drive crossing on a Medium Speed Caution with cars queued up for hundreds of metres back towards the Calder. If you get a really good run you might get through to Ginifer before you hit a reduced aspect. I change at Footscray sometimes for the Up Sunbury spark to North Melbourne and pretty much the only time in the last 6 months that we have had a line speed run on V/Line was when that service was cancelled!
The controllers have been much better in the last year or so (I wonder if Mr Weimar being on the V/Line board for a year or so had anything to do with that), the AM Down Swanners gets a really good path most days now with Sparks clearly being held at Sunshine. And I have had at least 2 "wrong road" runs through Watergardens on my PM Up recently either to overtake or just because a Down Metro was in the platform, I don't know which. The configuration at WG is not a problem now.
But as I said it is nigh on impossible to get a clear run. Last night I suspect we were late enough that they let the WG service which is normally held for us go and we got stuck behind that. We were pretty much brought to a stand at Calder and then again at Keilor Plains and in the StA / Ginifer stretch. I missed my bus from Footscray and had to beg a lift or wait in the hail at Footscray.