Oh to be a pig
Dear international reader. When you think of Sydney or Australia – what comes to mind? The sparkling blue of Sydney harbour? The constant sunshiny days? Exotic wildlife and man-eating koalas? Blonde babes in bikinis or guys with windswept hair on surfboards? Good food? Laid back life style?
Well, tick all those, you’re right. But I bet you didn’t say: trains that you find in the third world. And I bet you also didn’t say that pigs are treated better than humans in Australia.
Sydney has been experiencing a fairly humid summer. It has not been unusual to have 35º/95 ºF or higher days. Now, you would think that a developed, sophisticated country like Australia would have air-conditioned trains wouldn’t you? Ah, well nope, not exactly.
A couple of weeks ago, it was a shocker and I had to catch a train from Wynyard to Central (two stops). Into the station rattled a silver set train that looks like this:
Old and tired. I boarded and became convinced that CityRail (who runs the Sydney train network) is trying to kill passengers. There was no air-conditioning and the outside temperature was around 35º. Hot, cranky, sweaty passengers were crowded in the vestibule area. Some windows were open but were blowing in hot air. By the time we reached Central, most of us rushed out gasping for air (must have been at least 38º in the carriage I was travelling in).
Sydney’s trains can often be crowded and about a third of the network I believe is not air-conditioned. So here we all were, stuck together like sardines in a heat-soaked tin can train, shunted from station to station.
Now, if we were pigs, we would be transported in air-conditioned luxury. Yep, that’s right folks: there are rules and codes of practice aplenty for the transportation of pigs but none for the transportation of the victims of CityRail trains.
The Parliament of Australia Senate Committee on animal welfare recommends that piggies are never to be transported during temperatures of 38º or higher; the Code of Practice (Vic) for the land transport of pigs says that piggies can suffer temperature stress when the weather hits 30°C or more; and the National Farm Care Council of Canada has a very handy fact sheet for the handling of pigs, which recommends that housing for pigs should never reach temperatures higher than 34°C.
Yet, CityRail seems to think it’s fine to transport humans in crowded carriages that can reach 34°C or higher. Hello? CityFAIL.