Well, we made it! Saturday and Sunday were the official last days of WCYM. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your point of view), I didn’t have much to do with it.
Saturday was the day of the long walk from North Sydney to Randwick Racecourse. There were some protests but from what I saw in the media, it was a very happy day. I actually was not working on Saturday but trying to adjust from late afternoon shifts (including Friday) to a super duper early morning shift on Sunday.
Sunday was the Papal Mass at Randwick Racecourse. Before my first train at Lidcombee, I was doing a bit of self assigned customer service as there were no station staff to be seen. There were a few people around but not as many as I thought there would be. I was using my knowledge of the network to make sure that people got on the quickest train into town. Compared to the usual weekend timetable, there were plenty of trains to choose from, especially for those people who wanted to go as a big group but not everyone had arrived yet. It always amuses me when you ask someone about where they want to go, you tell/show them and then they go off in their own direction anyway.
I was driving my train around the City Circle around 5.30am and there was hardly anyone around at all. There were a lot of extra trains running in case people didn’t camp overnight at Randwick but a lot of the trains and stations that I saw were not packed at all. I was having my meal break when I saw the Pope arrive at the racecourse on TV. I finished work around lunchtime and I was looking forward to catching up on sleep I’d missed out on the previous night.
I went to bed feeling fine on Sunday but woke up during the night not feeling good at all. I went to work on Monday as I was Mr Shed (driving trains around the Depot). It was a relatively easy Mr Shed shift as there are still extra trains on the network as the WCYMites head home. Drue reported a lot of WCYMites at Katoomba. I got to see (on TV) the Pope’s final public appearance at the Domain and also the motorcade to Sydney Airport. I was watching this with work colleagues and some of the humour was very funny indeed. I was reading the timetable in the newspaper and saw what time the Domain activities were due to finish and what time the plane was due to fly out and I said “well, it’s not as though they are going to leave without him (the Pope), are they?” was one such example.
Just when you thought that there wasn’t going to be anymore speeches, there were more speeches at the Airport. When most people leave to go overseas, they might have to hug their relatives but they usually don’t have to give a speech to the world’s media. And I can recall thinking on behalf of the pilot as he was being reversed out of the hangar “don’t f**k up, don’t f**k up, don’t f**k up!”
Then once the plane was reversed out of the hanger, it had to taxi over to the runway. Considering the free run that he’d had during the week, I was a bit surprised to see the Pope Plane having to give way to other aircraft. Eventually the plane took off and the media was even following the plane until it got out of the Sydney area and normal programming resumed. Some of my workmates even went outside to look for the plane in the sky!
So that’s it, WCYM is effectively over. It was great to see so many happy faces around the place. I’ll be interested to hear about the media coverage around the world on the next Round Table and I’ll also ask the question “was it worth the coin the taxpayers put in?” It was great to see that the transport came through and it is great to see what can happen when the required resources (basically all hands on deck) are on hand.