Wednesday, July 31, 2013

My Transport Solutions - Part 2

So I thought it was about time I try and explain part 2 of my Transport Solutions. So without further delay, here it is.

Duplication of the Richmond Line

In order to support Richmond RAAF base to become Sydney's next or new Domestic airport (which leave Kingsford Smith aka Sydney Airport to become international only with some domestic services), duplication of the Richmond line from Schofields to Richmond would be required.

No with this I have thought long and hard about whether or not the train line should remain open whilst this occurs and given a report last year stated the Quakers Hill to Schofields section could have been built and completed faster if the line was to have been closed at the time, so heeding this I think full closure for the line after preparation works are completed would be necessary. Yes it would mean buses for say a year and a half, but the short term pain for long term gain is far more beneficial than anything.

Richmond Line to become the new Cumberland Line

Ok so this idea I have stated for a while now to add extra capacity ot what is already a packed and pretty much always cancelled peak hour service/line. What I propose for is say maybe 1-2 trains an hour would go into the city during peaks hours only and vice versa return from the city, but for the remainder of the time, trains running on the Richmond line would become all stations to Campbelltown and return from Richmond. This could only be done once the line is fully duplicated, although I can't see why it can't be done when the new timetable comes out in October.

Carlingford Line

The Carlingford line is almost somewhat like the Richmond line, given most of its route is single line and whilst the former NSW Labor Government did sign an agreement with the Federal Government for an upgrade of the line and extension to Epping and Parramatta (making it form the former Parramatta to Chatswood via Epping idea), its seems that this idea is now mothballed and the Carlingford line will remain as it is.

There is also an idea or plan through Parramatta city council to make this line into a light rail service that connects Westmead and Parramatta with the carling ford line being extended as a light rail service to Macquarie park and some hills areas. To me this would make sense really at the end of the, considering the line is barely used and really doesn't have good connections for commuters as well as an accessible transport interchange for people with disabilties.

Bankstown Line - become all single deck fast metro

This idea comes directly from the plan to have the Bankstown line become part of the the extended North West Metro. The line is considered a branch line and to me it would make sense in converting it to single deck trains with higher frequencies of 10-15minutes in the off peak and 2-5mins in the leak.

There would so need additional track between erskinville and St. Peter's which can be accomplished but we shall see what the over meant may choose to do with this excess land with their just released development plan.

T-way services

Tways such as the Parramatta to Liverpool, Parramatta to Rouse Hill and Blacktown are great services, but are also a problem being they do have limited capacity against a growing demand for more buses which ultimately do clog up the streets let alone also run late and are more prone to breakdowns than anything else.

My suggestion would be to convert the T-Ways into a light rail system with frequencies of services every 10 minutes in the peak and 20-25minutes in the off peak and 30mins on weekends and public holidays. The reasoning beind it is parramatta interchange is fast clogging up with buses and is almost at breaking point. Light rail also offers more frequency and more passenger numbers than one bus combined.

Monorail or light rail at Olympic Park & surrounding suburbs

With the monorail now a distant memory in the minds of Sydney spiders, my suggestion was to move the monorail to Olympic park to service not only the growing hub of commercial and residential development within the main Olympic park area/precinct but to also service newington and the developments around the Olympic park ferry terminal with Olympic park station as the main interchange to feed passengers into train services or other bus services (more so train services).

If by chance the monorail solution was not viable, a plan to have light rail service placed in the same manner but potentially linkin over to Rhodes, Homebush and Strathfield along to Parramatta, still mainly servicing the Olympic Park and Newington commercial and residential developments.

Buy new OSCars to replace remainder non air conditioned fleet

Now this is going to sound crazy, but my idea here surrounded the government buy more OSCars from UGL rail (builders of the OSCars, hunter DMU and the Tangara's) but there would be a twist in which the fleet would have no toilets nor luggage racks and be made to just be purely suburban operation only.

Why I chose this as an option comes from the issues surrounding the Waratah train Public-Private Partnership (PPP) as the builder, reliance rail (which is 50/50 partnership between EDI Rail, builder of he bungled Millenium trains and Hitachi rail systems) has still ongoing issues with delivery of the last train not due now till late 2014. This option was also chosen as the current transport minister, Gladys Berjiklian, did miss the deadline to order a further 20 sets. This does offer an opportunity to filled by an increased and somewhat changed order for more OSCar trains!

In my opinion, UGL Rail have been able to build and produce the OSCar fleet recently on budget and on time, given though it did have trouble originally, they have been able to adapt and make changes quickly to allow for speedy delivery of the new fleet compared to reliance rail/EDI Rail/hitachi Rail.

Replace all V-Set's

Whilst this option is currently happening, it's taking a little too long if you ask me. With that said, most V-sets are still from an operations standing in good condition and yes they do have the most comfy seats from what I can remember, but from an accessible point of view - besides the 4 car V train set that is the only wheelchair accessible all bar the toilet, the rest aren't and this is a huge issue.

A lot of people tend to think that just building lifts or ramps to make things more wheelchair accessible for disabled or less ables people is all that is required!!

My reply to that is FUCK NO!! The trains need to be wheelchair accessible and the V Sets don't offer this at all. Try being in a wheelchair and sitting in the freezing cold or extreme heat because you can't get into the air con area, combined with constantly having to move side to side out of the way not only of the guard or passengers to disembark on the various platform door sides - Its tiring and quite honestly fucking frustrating.

I know that it's something that is slowly being changed but thats just the problem, its taking way to long and in all honesty without real consultation!!

Fix the differences in platform heights

This is one of the bigger issues which really should go at the top of the list and this blog but I can't be bothered because I know I will be wasting my breath on it. But I the various height differences between the train and the platform is becoming bigger and quite higher, as if the platforms are either sinking of the trains are taking some serious hormones to grow taller!!

In London where the now Sydney Trains CE (chief executive) was working, did have "humps" where a very small sections of the platforms (sometimes there could be up to 3 humps at a platform) would be raised like a hump to allow wheelchairs, strollers, walkers etc, to easily get on and off tube trains without hassles and without assistance of ramps.

Now this is something Sydney SHOULD and I stress the point SHOULD be looking at because the ramps that are placed at stations when a train comes in for a wheelchair person to board or disembark is becoming a nightmare if not very unsafe because of the height differences.

But alas I have very strong believe and knowledge this won't happen because to Gladys Berjiklian, its too costly (yet she can use her credit card on wasteful things like uniforms that don't fit staff - almost 6.6 million blown on that along along with a supposed 6 million payout to Tennis Australia for the continued use of the new hop logo. Stupid *&*&$*#^^%&$*#&)

But these are just part 2 of my transport solutions and whilst I just travel on the trains and for people who work on the railways, they hate my kind, to us enthusiast my suggestions are just that - suggestions. So if you work in the railways and have lasted this long and are reading this, rolling your eyes and either swearing your brains out, sighing or wanting to comment a bitchy comment back - BRING IT ON I SAY!! Sometimes its better to have fresher eyes and perspective than a closed one I say.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Should Nokia branch our of Windows Phone?

Hot off the announcement of Nokia's new 1020 41megapixel camera phone, it got me thinking - should Nokia branch out of Windows Phone 8?

Sure Nokia has its "Asha" brand which is slightly different and rehashed form of Symbian mobile operating system, which really is slow, lagging and not really bringing any further enhancement nor actually worth investment anymore.

So what should Nokia do?

I do believe Nokia should take a leaf out of HTC, Samsung, Huawei, ZTE, etc and actually branch out into not only Windows Phone 8, but also Android and they should also look at bringing back MeeGo as well.

Nokia can make great hardware but its software choice is lacking and quite honest, boring to say the least. So here is what I think they should do:

Make an entry/low and mid end Android Phones

Nokia should look at making not only an entry level/low end device but also a mid tier device to help resurrect their fortunes in the mean time, enabling them to really kick ass with great hardware and software alike. 

I honestly think Nokia could excel in the android arena with they way they can honestly make great devices that people used to love and still somewhat do with an incredible, growing and popular OS.

Resurrect MeeGo

Nokia N9

The Nokia N9 really did bring a very simple to use and very clean operating system with a fantastic phone. I honestly do believe Nokia should look at bringing back MeeGo through again an entry level/low end and mid tier devices. Maybe even a high end device like the N9 could be on the cards here for Nokia to create.

I have to say, owning (yes I still have an N9) the Nokia N9 really has opened my eyes, because it is just simple, beautiful and not as fussy or clunky like iOS or Windows Phone7 and 8 combined.

Have less dependence on Windows Phone

Nokia Lumia 710

I will say this, whilst I hate Windows/Microsoft in general, Windows Phone 7/8 is ok......ish. In my honest opinion, it still has a very long way to go before it could or should take on Android and iOS.

Nokia needs to shift from being 100% Windows Phone reliant and really Stephen Elop should just admit he made a very big mistake staking Nokia's future on an OS that is far from popular or worth investing time and money into.

Bury and close down Symbian & Asha

Well I think the sub heading really says it all. Nokia should just end their stake within Asha and Symbian and focus on the above core OS' instead. Honestly, Asha and Symbian have been dead in the water and any justification to keep these OS operating and in production would and will create headaches for Nokia and its shares/money.

Oust Stephen Elop

I am not generally a fan of mutiny, but I think Stephen Elop should be overthrown and kicked to the side for even staking not only his reputation but state the reputation and money of such a wonderful company on a failed OS would be ensuring that share holders and stake holders alike watch their company continually shrink its market share and eat into profits and continually loose confidence within the management of the board failing to turn the companies fortune around.

This is where a change in leadership would be required to end the contract with Microsoft and look at other alternatives to help stem losses and bring back former Nokia consumers back from its competitors.

Of course this is just my opinion and ideas, but I would be intrigued if this is in fact what could be happen within Nokia, because there have been rumours and reports the senior management, board and shareholders and stakeholders are watching with baited breath and trying to get Nokia out of its worse situation it has ever been in.

Here's hoping they do something fast and soon to bring a once mighty and respected company back into reality and into today's modern standards OS wise.

So what are your thoughts on what Nokia should do?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Should Australia have another telco?

So after hearing Vodafone has flicked the switch on it's 4G services for not only existing customers with 4G enabled phones, but now for new customers, it got me thinking, does Australia need a new telco that has its own infrastructure (as in mobile reception towers etc) to come in and challenge and bring more competition away from the big three telco's?

I would say somewhat yes.

Why? simply put, the big 3 telco's have way to much power to cause a monopoly, but also because the networks do open certain parts of their network as a wholesaler to what is known as VMNO or Virtual Mobile Network Operator, which don't known the actual infrastructure but instead lease or piggy back off one of the three major telcos.

For example:

Boost Mobile uses the Telstra Next G Network whilst Aldi, Kogan and Telechoice use the lower 3G bands of Telstra bandwidth infrastructure.

Virgin Mobile (who is a wholly owned subsidiary of Optus) uses the whole Optus 2G, 3g/3G+ and 4G bandwidths along with iiNet whilst Dodo, Amaysim, Woolworths Mobile, TPG, iPrimus, M8, Yatango ,  use the Optus 3G bandwidth network.

On Vodafone, well there's is a little more complex as they did have a partnership with Telstra for the 3GIS network which has since been dissolved and split between both parties, but Vodafone now has an agreement to piggyback off Optus for 3G+ services. Red Bull Mobile and Think Mobile do utelise the Vodafone network (believed to be the 850mghz but unconfirmed)

So even though we have all these various and upcoming VMNO's the issue still remains that there is really only three main competitors that control the networks and really and ultimately calling the shots to not only customers but also to the VMNO's.

Having being burnt with Dodo because of Optus' reception issues within greater western Sydney area and also within the city, this proves to me that we are being short changed and customers as well as VMNO's would be far better off with another Telco causing a shake up to a very dull if not cut throat industry.

So yes I think Australia would be better with another telco network, if not to shake up things and bring more competition to us consumers who ultimately pay currently pay for mixed services but to stop the monopoly the 3 major telcos currently enjoy.

I mean why can't a mobile provider like T Mobile, Sprint, AT&T or other mobile network providers actually come down under and rock things up a bit, but alas I don't think that could or would actually happen.

But it certainly is something to ponder. So what are your thoughts? Should Australia allow another telco provider in that owns its own infrastructure to operate and shake things up from the current big 3 telco's??

Just my little random thought of Android & How much I like it!!

Well this is a hard thing to say, but I decided that I would put it out there to challenge what people think about Android and the OEM’s or Mobile/Tablet manufacturers who build Android devices.

The thing is that, I used to be a Apple fan boy, to which I did honestly think that everything Apple was the end all, be all. But now I know that’s not true.

So what changed, well I found Android and have not looked back really. My first android device was my little Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 mini, which yes it was a very small phone, like seriously you have no idea, but it challenged what I thought mobiles should be like. It made me wonder why I even bothered with Apple’s iPhone.

I know it seems silly, but I still like my old X10 mini and still have it. Yes it has a small screen and the battery life is less than spectacular, but it goes to show that Android can be made to fit into smaller device and it shows because this is where smart watches powered by android can take their cue from really.

That to me is what makes the X10 fantastic because Sony Ericsson (now just Sony) had a gamble to create such a small device that really did pack a bit of punch, and that to make is what makes OEM’s like Sony make to turn and look to see what they are creating and how they bring that innovation to the market.

Since then, it has made me truly realise how much Android as an OS has changed and evolved and how  I have now got two android phones (one is a Motorola Razr M and the other is a Samsung Galaxy Note 2) and I have since added to this with my Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7”. 

But why Android? Why not try and find some medium within Apple’s ecosystem and products? 

The answer is simple really - Android offers more than just apps, movies, magazines, music, it also offers greater flexibility to customise your phone, make it more personal, make it you basically.

I know that Android is more than just an ordinary mobile OS, its more a social OS that allows one to keep in touch with friend and family without restrictions or compromises. I would honestly believe that android is a more socialised network and OS compared to iOS.

The one thing I will say with Android, there is so many possibilities to which are endless. I mean there are more apps that are free on android’s OS then iOS.

As for malware issues, that mainly relates within older devices that aren’t upgradable but still in operation. Google have released updates for the security flaw that was uncovered, unlike and unreported by a certain reporter said. Funnily enough, News Corp, which owns has several Android Apps for various products and brands it owns, maybe we should all be worried and uninstall those apps because they could end up having malware/spyware in them (meoww that was bitchy!!).

But seriously, the claim by Apple and Microsoft that users are flocking to their brands because of malware or spyware issues is baseless and false. If anything Android is growing. Just look at Samsung’s sales of the Galaxy S4 - over 20 million sold to date (probably past that now but still) and Sony, HTC and other Android OEM’s are continuing to see growth which can only mean dire futures for the competition. I must mention though, I did see Apple’s on sale at Woolworths recently as well, can only give you an insight of how bad things have gotten wouldn’t you say (I know, not actually Apple the company related, but you only have to look at their declining sales margins and profits).

So with that I say, next time your looking for something shining and new mobile wise, have a second look at Android and don’t discount it. You won’t be disappointed

P.S - I would like to go on the record officially as stating that I do own an iPad and a Macbook, but my iPad is really starting to bother me and I have begun to use my Galaxy Tab 7” more than anything, whilst my MacBook is just more to do with my hatred for Windows - a cheap nasty product that is!!