Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Reports from a failing system





I rode Auckland's collapsing train system yesterday, from Glen Eden to Newmarket. Fourteen stations, on the western line. Each stop was announced, well in advance, by an electronically distorted voice, a voice so slow, so solemn, that it might have been listing the stations of the cross. I was not riding Auckland's rails to get anywhere. I was riding just to ride. I knew there was trouble - rolling strikes, wildcat walkouts, unseemly arguments - at Britomart Station, the headwaters of Auckland's rail lines. I wanted to feel the system slow down, break down.



The trains and train systems are not supposed to break down. The train was, is, the vehicle of modernity. It taught humans the pleasure of acceleration, the thrill of speed, the shock of deceleration. When we sniff cocaine or inject heroin, we seek the same ecstatic transport as ancestors who bought tickets at King's Cross, St Pancras. Long before television, before movies, trains created moving images: their passengers were the first cinemophiles, watching plotless epics filled with cornfields, smokestacks, cacti, as they rolled across Europe, America.



The stops at each station on the Western line lengthened, until they became pauses, then delays, then extended delays. Shorthanded by their comrades' rolling strikes, crews struggled to inspect tickets, tracks. At each station there were crowds, coagulations.

 

At Newmarket, at five o'clock, I found a huge, glum crowd: yawning schoolboys from the western & southern diaspora of Auckland Grammar, suited commuters punching out anti-union tweets on their phones, Japanese tourists with tiny i pods hanging around their necks like dogtags.



I became preoccupied with one of the fellow stranded, a man I could not quite see. He had a blurred, hairless head, a too-small suit the colour of an old urine stain. He held his suitcase with a shivering, reluctant hand, as if it were the black box from some crashed plane.

By six o'clock I was suddenly desperate, like the old rail riders, for authority, for a blue uniform stamped AUCKLAND TRANSPORT. I wanted a strongman or woman, a leader, someone with a loud hailer & a timetable, someone who could conjure a train, fashion a queue from the chaos.



The escalator to Newmarket's ticket office had stopped in mid-flow, like an Alpine waterfall in winter. A dispensing machine took coins, but held its drinks. Auckland Transport had tried to replace workers with machines, but now machines were rebelling, & joining the strike...

17 Comments:

Blogger Richard said...

Hi Scott so much scam coming from your Blog to my posts I will be 'anonymous' as far as the system is concerned. This is a good post. Yes, we forget the impact of railways. When I was a boy there were steam trains and we got the train at Tamaki. When it arrived my brother and I would race out to see the drivers disengaging the train and they then turned it around. It was exciting. But those steam trains were coal fired, caused fires in fact, and put out an enormous amount of pollution. But the sound of a steam train is amazing. We would then go up and get the tram car and go from there into Queen Street. Trams were fascinating, electric. Then came the central city electric buses. The trains in NZ don't go very fast. My father went back to England in 1974 after many years away. He went via France and there the trains were powered by two engines as they were heading for the alps...there is a great poem by Lowell called 'Crossing the Alps'. He went on to England. There he took a train trip. He thought the trains were going fast. He asked a conductor how fast (it was an express that didn't stop much) and suggested say 80 mph (almost 100 kph) and the reply was: "And the rest!" They were sometimes more than 100 mph about 120 mph or so or more.

The strike is legitimate. People will need unions more. They are not a 'revolutionary' force but they are in some ways a reminder of the divide which is good. We are not on the side of business or even the Auckland City Council. They are full of sycophants and bastards who are milking the system. And everything they do do is way behind the time. Mayor Dove Myer Robinson wanted Rapid Rail in the 70s and electric and all the rest but he was rejected. He at least got the sewerage system through. He started out as a keen motor cycle man, and he was a Commnunist in his young days. He was almost our only Mayor who was much good....
Good writing.

I am working a lot on my project which is harder to get they way I want it than I thought but I am getting there.

I'll leave off the "follow up" option.

Richard

1:19 am  
Blogger Richard said...

Diesel electric or electric trains are a great improvement in "eco" terms over steam trains.

1:21 am  
Anonymous Scott said...

Hi richard, I know what you mean about trains. All the stuff about the trains creating modernity comes from my old PhD supervisor, Ian Carter; he was nuts about trains! He went a bit over the top when he said trains created the modern concepts of trauma and also film, but he made you think when you got on a slow suburban line...

Ian's last book, so far as I know, was a big study of model railway enthusiasts:
http://books.scoop.co.nz/2008/12/09/train-spotting-and-class-struggle/

12:18 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

I see you are talking about Chris Lewis. I found his biography which I have amusing.

He mentions playing chess with 'an old fellow' (or something like that) at Lake Alice Hospital. That could well have been a friend of mine Brian Douglas who had played in the NZ Championships in the 60s. I was reasonably close to Brian about 1971 or so when both of us had stopped playing chess. He had got an MA in psychology. He either was or had convinced himself he was a schizophrenic. He attempted suicide and ended up in Lake Alice. I used to correspond with him and even played a game of chess about 1978. But I lost contact when my marriage broke up and everything became chaotic...

12:38 pm  
Anonymous Scott said...

I think there were some pretty smart people in Lake Alice. I was very interested in Rolfe Hattaway, the artist who influenced Gordon Walters and Teo Schoon, who wound up there:
https://www.aucklandartgallery.com/explore-art-and-ideas/archives/19611

8:52 am  
Blogger Richard said...

I have a book about Walters, a kind of essay with images. And something of Schooner. I don't know the other fellow. I check him out...

11:36 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Re trains, Carter had a point. There IS something mysterious about trains. I think I should take another trip to Wellington of somewhere. But the steam trains, when you heard them at night, were haunting. They were almighty. I can understand a passion for trains. The fascinated me as a boy as did jet aircraft and air craft of all kinds. I dreamed of being a fighter pilot!

My uncle was in the RAF in WWII. It affected his nerves. But for me, that was the big thing about my mother's brother, Frank Miller. As a boy he was a kind of hero.

I also read about Douglas Bader and trains were always a great place for events to happen. A novel by Isherwood starts with a meeting on a train. George Steiner has a story of a man supposedly in the Resistance in WWII witnessing a man thrown off the train and beaten up. It is an intriguing story...(Of three in 'Anno Domini')

11:45 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe I should change my profession to train driver. It seems like a career that would suit me. I get to piss people of and ruin their days by being late as fuuuuck.

Train driver and doctor seems to be the only god damn careers out there where it is acceptable to always be late and act like an asshole to people. And lets face it, I could never pass med school, you know with me hating people and all that, and the only thing I hate more than people are kids, so Med school would not be a good fit.

Seriously tho, I am so fucking pissed off. Why can’t they for fucking once take into calculations the conditions of the tracks and all that shit, so they adjust the time table for the train, and not just be late. The guys checking tickets are running around here now, fake smiles plastered on their well groomed faces, fucking assholes. They care about the tardiness of the train about as much as the fucking operator does. And he gives less than a shit about it.

7:35 pm  
Blogger Sahra in Dubai said...

perkenalkan nama saya Sahra. saya berasal dari kota Reog Ponorogo saya pernah bekerja sebagai seorang karyawan di salah satu restaurant di dubai. dimana saya sudah hampir kurang lebih 5 tahun lamanya saya bekerja di restaurant tersebut.

Keinginan saya dan impian saya yang paling tinggi adalah ingin mempunyai usaha sendiri di kampung, namun jika hanya mengandalkan gaji yah mungkin butuh waktu yang sangat lama dimana belum biaya kontrakan dan utan yang menumpuk justru akan semakin sulit dan semakin lama impian itu tidak akan terwujud

saya coba" buka internet dan saya lihat postingan teman di https://pesugihanputihislamia.blogspot.com. Saya buka di google dan disitulah awal kesuksesan saya sampai sekarang alhamdulillah ya allah...

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8:22 pm  
Blogger Metwaly Shahin said...

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2:34 am  
Blogger Metwaly Shahin said...

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2:36 am  
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5:13 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Anonymous - why don't you walk to work or get a horse?

9:27 am  
Blogger Metwaly Shahin said...

هل تبحث عن شركة متخصصة فى خدمات التنظيف بالطائف بافضل المعدات والسوائل وثقة تمة فى العمل ودقة فى النتائج كل هذه المميزت توفرها شركة الخليج الشركة الافضل والامثل فى الخدمات المنزلية بالطائف وبما اننا الشركة الافضل والامثل بدون منافس سوف نسعى لتوفر افضل الخدمات باقل تكلفة وبقدر كبير من الاهتمام والدقة عزيزى اينما كنت فى اى منطقة ا وحى تابع لمدينة الطائف اتصل بنا وسوف نصلك فى الحال شركة الخليج للخدمات المنزلية شركة تنظيف منازل بالطائف
شركة تنظيف فلل بالطائف
شركة تنظيف خزانات بالطائف
شركة تسليك مجارى بالطائف
شركة رش مبيدات بالطائف
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شركة عزل اسطح بالطائف
شركة عزل خزانات بالطائف

5:20 am  
Blogger Metwaly Shahin said...

نقدم لكم بعض الخدمات فى الاعمال المنزلية الممثله فى التنظيف الشامل للمنزل ومكافحة الحشرات وعزل الاسطح وكشف تسربات المياة ونقل الاثاث بكل انوعه كل ذلك يساعد فى الحصول علي مظهر رائع بواسطة افضل الفنيين والمتخصصين فى هذا المجال باستخدام احدث المعدات.
شركة عزل اسطح بابها
شركة كشف تسربات بابها
شركة تنظيف خزانات بابها
شركة مكافحة حشرات بابها
شركة عزل اسطح بخميس مشيط
شركة كشف تسربات بخميس مشيط
شركة مكافحة حشرات بخميس مشيط
شركة تنظيف منازل بالطائف
شركة نقل عفش بالطائف

5:20 am  
Blogger Sahra in Dubai said...

perkenalkan nama saya Sahra. saya berasal dari kota Reog Ponorogo saya pernah bekerja sebagai seorang karyawan di salah satu restaurant di dubai. dimana saya sudah hampir kurang lebih 5 tahun lamanya saya bekerja di restaurant tersebut.

Keinginan saya dan impian saya yang paling tinggi adalah ingin mempunyai usaha sendiri di kampung, namun jika hanya mengandalkan gaji yah mungkin butuh waktu yang sangat lama dimana belum biaya kontrakan dan utan yang menumpuk justru akan semakin sulit dan semakin lama impian itu tidak akan terwujud

saya coba" buka internet dan saya lihat postingan teman di https://pesugihanputihislamia.blogspot.com. Saya buka di google dan disitulah awal kesuksesan saya sampai sekarang alhamdulillah ya allah...

jika anda ingin mendapat jalan yang mudah untuk mendapat kesuksesan seperti saya anda tak perlu ragu. atau malu dikejar hutang lagi, Tergantung keyakinan dan kepercayaan saja. Banyak pilihan di berikan yaitu Dana Hibah, penglaris usaha dagan, dana gaib, anka gaib togel, jampi pelet, dll

Kini saya berbagi pengalaman saja sudah saya rasakan dan buktikan sampai sekarang. Atau mungkin ada teman mau hubungi langsung beliau ini nomer WhatsApp nya 0822 9127 7145 Semoga bermanfaat. aminn...


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