Posts tagged railfan

Insert sleeper caffeine pun here

Now this is just too cool for words: a Starbucks branch in Singapore made from railway sleepers.

Reclaimed railroad sleepers from around South-East Asia have been used to line this wall. Where will it live next?

The store also uses LEDs for lighting, which are far nicer than those florescent tubes that buzz and make everyone look terrible.

Railfans fixate on stuff like this

CityRail's yellow colour scheme in Sydney certainly made their older rolling stock look better, but I reckon their 1980s-designed Tangara trains looked classier before.

Photo taken by Trent "Raichase" Nicholson in 2007. They look like this now.

Winter at Museum Station

I love travelling through Sydney's Museum Station, partly because it's the quietest one on the City Circle, but also for their classic advertisements from decades past, and their monthly displays. The Singapore MRT was only built in the late 1980s, so its a novelty for me!

A simple display for winter, but I like it! Can I get a print of this for our house? :D

Retro Sydney CityRail maps!

If you'll recall from my earlier post looking at Singapore in the 1970s, I'm fascinated with modern history! Today I unearthed the Historical NSW Railway Timetables website.

Hey, wait a minute

Firstly, yes I am aware the image above is clearly not a retro rail map, or even a contemporary rail map at all. In fact, other than a couple of physical train lines entering the bridge there isn't any indication that rail activity is taking place. It's called setting the scene, this is a photo of North Sydney taken in 1980 by nicksarebi on Flickr. Interesting how some things are clearly the same, but so much has changed!

Moving on! Hey, that was a bit of a pun… how come I'm only funny by accident? Don't answer that. The first map here is the suburban network in 1969, go the font!

Now we jump to 1987, when I would have been 1! You can kinda tell from the typeface and simplified, coloured block lines; perhaps a homage to the London Underground? :)

And finally we jump another decade or so to see the map Olympic people would have used to find their way to New South Wales Taxpayer Sinkhole Arena, as it was almost called:

What strikes me about all these maps is just how little things have changed in the intervening decades. Entire networks in other cities have been built from scratch during this time, and Sydney has barely had a dozen new stations introduced.

New map designs and signage, while being incredibly fascinating looks into our modern past, don't hide the fact the state has seen little new investment in public transport for a painfully long time. The new Liberal government claims transport is their "number one priority", but we'll believe it when we see it!

CityRail coin sneakyness

CityRail ticketing machine at Bardwell Park

Have you ever tried to pay for CityRail trains with coins? Got bitten by that ridiculous ten coin limit? Here’s how to game the system :)

Schadey talks about Schrapnel

We all have experience with emptying our wallets of schrapnel to pay for beverages from vending machines or museli from managers named Bevan. I knew a guy called Bevan in Singapore, he lived in Clementi. I always got weird looks whenever I arrived at that "heartland" station!

Wait, I’m supposed to be talking about Sydney trains! So we all have experience with getting rid of loose change with vending machines, but those sneaky CityRail ticket vending machines were designed with an arbitrary ten coin limit. This is particularly irritating given Australian coins are as massive as hockey pucks and a billion times heavier. Roughly speaking.

I had a brainstorming session with a guy from uni as to why this might be.

  • They take a comparitave hit in fees despositing coins compared to banknotes and want to encourage the latter
  • Coins are heavy!
  • They want to discourage people from buying tickets so they can catch you out and fine you for a substantially larger amount.
  • They’re cheapskates

You can get rid of schrapnel though!

The good news is, during a particularly dull train trip where I’d left my headphones at home, I calculated how we can get rid of as many low denomination coins as possible while still paying the fare in ten or less coins.

Getting rid of as many 50c coins as possible, with 10c change:

$1   50c 50c 50c 50c 50c 50c 50c 50c 50c
$2           50c 50c 50c 50c 50c 50c 50c

Getting rid of as many 20c pieces as possible:

$2 $1 $1     20c 20c 20c 20c 20c 20c 20c
$2 $2        20c 20c 20c 20c 20c 20c 20c

Getting rid of as many 10c pieces as possible:

$2 $2 50c 20c 20c    10c 10c 10c 10c 10c
$5 (banknote)            10c 10c 10c 10c
$2 $2 $1                 10c 10c 10c 10c
$2 $2 50c 50c            10c 10c 10c 10c
$2 $1 $1 $1              10c 10c 10c 10c
$2 $1 50c 50c 50c 50c    10c 10c 10c 10c
$1 $1 $1 $1 $1           10c 10c 10c 10c
$1 $1 $1 $1 50c 50c      10c 10c 10c 10c

Of course this isn’t an exhaustive list of combinations, but it gives you an idea. I also didn’t bother with combinations of 20c and 10c coins that give change, as it would defeat our stated purpose of getting rid of coins!

Unfortunately to get us under or on the ten coin limit we have no choice but to use some high value ones. Still, even with combinations that use lots of $2 coins we’re still getting rid of a lot of schrapnel as well.


  • Take your coins to the bank and sort them into little bags. Wastes a lot of time, but will give you folding money to use instead
  • For a cut of what you have, Woolies will also take your coins and give you folding money to use.
  • Give your coins to charity and stop being so stingy
  • Melt and cast your coins into a sword to ward off ticket inspectors

The Paris Métro IKEA advertising stunt

Along with all the talk about IKEA decking out Paris Métro stations with couches and lamps as an advertising stunt, there have been a ton of comments that pretty much follow this formula: "That'd never work in New York, the subways here aren't clean like the ones in Europe!"

As someone who recently zipped around in Paris on the Métro, the word clean wouldn't be one of the words I'd use to describe it! Intensely interesting, reliable, fast, affordable, comprehensive, yes. Clean? Eh, maybe not ;). The photo I took above shows one of the few good ones, but often there's litter everywhere and… certain odors which we won't discuss here.

As a matter of disclosure…

Punggol MRT Station The Munich U-Bahn

  • Everything's relative, expensive private hospitals in Australia seems dirty after riding the Singapore MRT.

  • I'm a self confessed IKEA nut because it's like Lego for adults, which allegedly means I'm a loser with too much free time. Yeah, thanks again Dave :P

  • On our latest Eurotrip we also spent time in Munich before heading off to Paris and the Munich U-Bahn is beautiful. I'll upload my own photos eventually, for now check them out on Wikipedia and see for yourself :O

  • And because it's St Patty's Day, don't mock Dublin's">Luas system for its silly name (that probably means something which means I just made myself look like an arse), it's pretty cool too!

  • Oh yeah, and my father's side of the family is also German, which means I'm biased ;). I kid, Paris is amazing, but Munich is a nicer place. I think I'll stop now before I get myself intro trouble!