On Tuesday I caught the train to work. At Camberwell we swapped over to the stopping all stations track, which unusual. Normally we use the express track. We were clearly behind the stopping all stations train, but much more interestingly we were running the red lights. I was sitting, as I normally do, in the front carriage. The driver was slowly driving through the red lights. The auto stop system would apply the emergency breaks and we would stop. We would then go again. This was repeated at each signal.
Keeping an eye on the metro twitter feed it became clear that something was seriously wrong. By the afternoon they had announced that a bat in Burnley had got into the signalling system and caused widespread damage when it shorted it out. My guess is that it connected the 1500 volt dc feed into the low voltage signalling system and blew up lots of components.
By 3:20 they had announced that there would be major changes and major delays. In the off peak they replaced the trains in the Burnley – Camberwell section with busses. But bravely they decided to run trains through there in the peak. I was having none of it. And it turned out rightly so as there were delays in the hours. To add to their woes, their web sites melted down, I’m guessing under the load.
My back up plan had always been to catch the route 75, Vermont South tram and then the 732 bus to upper Ferntree gully and then the nice 688 bus home. The ptv website seemed to think that it was better to catch the 109 tram to Box Hill and then the 732-688 bus combination.
But that route takes quite a long time, over 2.5 hours compared to my normal 1.5 hour trip. Now that I had to implement my backup plan I had a serious look for alternatives.
There really are two sets of options. The 688 bus goes from Croydon to Upper Ferntree Gully. Any option needed to include Croydon, Kilsyth, Montrose or Upper Ferntree Gully as the change over. Montrose and Kilsyth were easily ruled out. That left two alternative routes than only involved an extra bus.
This last route, to my surprise, was 20 minutes faster than any other alternative. So I chose that route. It worked very well with just a 15 minute wait at Oakleigh that allowed me to go for a wander, having never been to Oakleigh before.
The next day a fellow worker said it had taken 2 hours for him to just get to Camberwell on the train. So my reasoning about the trains was correct.
The next day the trains were still stuffed. So I repeated my Oakleigh alternative route.
Normal: 4:16 Lilydale train to Croydon, 5:12 688 bus, 5:42 arrival time.
Alternative: 4:08 westall train to Oakleigh, 4:47 693 bus to Upper Ferntree Guly at 5:37, 5:53 688 bus to Croydon, 6:23 Arrival time.