Previously on Across Australia in 4 days:
Sat 3 Oct 2009 1:50 pm
I noticed several people checking something with the train staff at a makeshift counter at the head end of Sydney Central Station’s Platform 2 and 3. I went there, and saw that the train staff had a passenger list. I pulled out my seat booking paper which I had printed back home in Kuala Lumpur, and with a bit of apprehension, gave it to one of the Great Southern Railway (“GSR”) lady staff manning the counter.
I had half-expected my name not to be there. But I was pleasantly wrong – my internet-booked seat checked exactly with GSR’s printed records. Internet technology. You could book a seat from anywhere in the world, and when the time came for the actual travel, you could be reasonably sure that your name would be in the passenger manifest. I felt good that I was (and still am) partly instrumental, albeit minutely, in making that happen, with my involvement in sub-sea optical communication networks.
Sat 3 Oct 2009 2:00 pm
I was on Platform 2 with a group of fellow travelers experiencing the on-platform welcome and boarding briefing by the train manager. Present with him were 10 or so smiling and cheerful-looking “train hospitality assistants“. The manager informed us that the Indian Pacific was a long train and had to be split into two halves at the station to fit the platforms as well as to ease boarding. The half that was on Platform 3, with the two locomotives, would be pushed back and join that on platform 2, making a long train of 700 meters length. Good thing they split the train that way. Otherwise the poor people assigned to the front cars would have to walk more than half a kilometer to their seats!
Sat 3 Oct 2009 2:20 pm
Finally. I entered the train at Red flagged car S. My seat was in the adjoining car R, number 35 on the aisle. Red fabric seats with light green leather head cover. The seats looked to be bigger than an airliner economy seat. Maybe as big as a business class seat. That was encouraging… Overhead, there were dual layer luggage racks – the upper one was wide and held in place by a series of sturdy-looking stainless steel cantilevers bolted to the walls of the car. Obviously the rack was meant for bigger and heavier bags, while the lower rack was one half as wide, for laptops and small items.
Sat 3 Oct 2009 2:30 pm
A Chinese-looking man joined the car, and occupied the seat next to me, 36 window. After some talk, got to know his name, Wilfred, a Perth resident who had migrated to Australia from New Zealand and was originally from Kuching, Malaysia. Small world!. Wilfred was on board the Indian Pacific with his wife and son, who both occupied the seats immediately in front of us. From our brief conversation, he was really keen on solar power. Wilfred and family was on their way back to Perth after spending several days in Sydney. And guess what, they were returning to Perth on the Indian Pacific after crossing over the Australian continent on the Indian Pacific as well! Adventurous folks! And I thought I was an adventurous guy….
Sat 3 Oct 2009 2:55 pm
The train started to move. In was on time. Dead on. That debunked those very negative reports of Indian Pacific on the internet…