Saturday, January 28, 2023

Travelling Pathetically - Metro Edition

 There has been a new train line running in Sydney for the past few years.  The much vaunted Northwest Metro.  Given my mania for trains/trams/light rail etc it may surprise you that as yet I have not availed myself of its services.  Part of the reason for that is the damned thing stops at Chatswood which means I have to travel quite a distance to somewhere I have very little interest in simply to catch a Metro to somewhere else I have very little interest in.  Besides the state government is currently busy extending said network and replacing my current train line with it so I figured I'd wait until the Metro came to my door or I died, whichever came first.

Now all that has changed.  Some friends of mine live quite close to the Metro line (and therefore nowhere near me.  Actually its amazing how many of my friends contrive to live quite a distance away from me, I'm not reading anything into that no matter how much they want me to).  One Saturday being utterly bereft of something to do I contacted them and suggested we have lunch at Rouse Hill which is one stop from being the last on the Metro.  I thought I would take the Metro to Tallawong the very last Metro stop and walk back to Rouse Hill through some bush that had apparently not been completely demolished.  A combination of weather and some health issues put paid to the bushwalking section and I was left with catching a Metro to Rouse Hill for lunch.  Out of sheer perversity I went to Tallawong anyway and caught another Metro back.

Weekends are when the government does work on its various railway lines which might upset the commuters if it happened during the week.  For this reason by the time I arrived at Epping's combined train/metro station I had already taken three trains and more time than anyone would consider acceptable simply to reconnect with some friends.  Still being physically present I figured I might as well go all the way and hopped on the next available Metro.

Metro trains are essentially designed on the principle that traveling by train is morally wrong and those who do it deserve to be punished.  The seats are few and not particularly comfortable.  They also face into the carriage because Metro travelers don't deserve to look out windows.  Windows are nevertheless unaccountably provided.  Everything is shiny and new including the spectacularly patronising voice over that announces the stops.  At each stop the voice over would announce which side of the train the doors would open on, no doubt to the great relief of the people hurling themselves against the doors on the other side of the carriage weeping with frustration.  Actually the inward facing seats weren't too much of a problem as much of the journey is underground.  Although when it did become above ground it became well above ground.  Risking spinal injury I twisted myself around until I could look out the window.

The Northwest Metro travels through an area that can best be described as "suburbia in progress".  There are still large open patches of ground and occasional patches of trees and everywhere there are developers pouring concrete over the lot.  According to Dan (one of my lunch dates) who remembers when all this was green fields it used to be a farming area.  There are still some farmers who haven't got the message.  What this means is that such suburbs as have been built tend to come to an abrupt end as if development had been cut off with a knife and collections of apartment blocks peer incongruously over fields that still have the occasional animal in them.

I must confess that the Metro deposited me with smooth efficiency at Tallawong which was the end of the line.  The Tallawong metro station was actually originally located within the boundaries of Rouse Hill but it was decided that one metro station was more than the suburb deserved and it certainly wasn't getting two so they separated the station out and then ripped some chunks off the neighbouring suburb of Schofields, stapled it to the metro station.  The resulting frankensuburb was called Tallawong which is an Indigenous word meaning "metro station".

I got off the train at Tallawong and took a brief look around.  Believe me no more than a brief look is required.  Apart from the station itself there's not a lot there.  There will be; development is following the Metro and a good chunk of Tallawong is behind fencing being constructed.  In the meantime there is the occasional completed block of flats sticking out of the ground apparently at random and a lot of construction sites.  I live in a long established suburb in the inner city.  As such what little vegetation remains generally follows creek beds and is prized as somewhere to walk and litter while people tend to be a bit annoyed if you do that in their backyards.  Out here the residences appeared to be completely accessible while it was the bush that was fenced off so no-one could get into it.  The reason of course is that this isn't going to be bush for very much longer.

Tallawong - before

Tallawong - after

The above two photos are taken on opposite sides of the road.

Having exhausted all the interest that Tallawong could provide I hopped back on the Metro for the very brief journey to Rouse Hill.  It has to be said that Rouse Hill is going to have to develop into a heaven on earth if it wants to live up to its metro station.  It is a magnificent structure looming over the main shopping area of Rouse Hill like the modern day equivalent of a crusader castle.  Not that there's much to loom over.  There's a shopping/restaurant mall, a park and then nothing although in deference to the developers intentions I should rather say, "nothing yet".  On the opposite side of the tracks from the shops is a very large cemetery with very few gravestones.  They appear to be preparing for the apocalypse although Dan, who knows about these things, pointed out to me that a cemetery counts as part of the "green space" the developers are obliged to include in their plans for the suburb.  Frankly I'm surprised the place doesn't have a necropolis.

Lunch was had, conversation took place and while it did a cross section of the inhabitants Rouse Hill and surrounding areas paraded themselves for our amusement.  As did a cross section of the cars they drove.  Favoured among cars in this region is those that make deep, guttural rumblings that make conversation impossible.  Once electric cars become common the owners are going to have to put big signs on the roof saying "please look at my car" to have the same effect.

Once lunch was over we wandered down to the park where there was a lake, water birds and rubbish in more or less equal quantities.  There were also people emerging from a path which I had been intending to take when I planned my walk and which I had been assured was closed due to the recent rain.  I tried to be upset about that but my health issues started reminding me they had been in abeyance rather than gone so I bade farewell to my friends (we must do this again next year) and took four separate trains home.

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