Melbourne transport

The seagull incident

You’ve probably heard all about this by now.

From Facebook:

Guys this is the true crime story of the decade:

Yesterday a friend told me what might well be the best story I’ve ever heard. She had caught the train in from Frankston. And while she was waiting for the train to come, she noticed a man sitting down on the platform with a bag of fish and chips. But he wasn’t really eating them. He was just sort of letting them air.

This attracted a few seagulls, who began to circle the platform. Instead of shooing the birds away, the man offered them a few chips. He’d toss one a foot or so away from him. It was like he was beckoning them to come closer. He kept doing this, eking the chips out slowly, until there was a big group of seagulls in front of him, 15 or 20. A tiny army. He’d throw them a chip every now and then – just enough to keep the birds interested, but not enough to sate them. It was frustrating. They were getting angry. Squawking. It was like he was rearing them up for… something.

Then the train came, and everyone got on. But the man stayed on the ground with his chips. Just when the train was about to leave. It happened.

Right before the doors closed, the man threw the entire bag of the fish and chips into the train. The entire flock of seagulls followed the bag. And the doors closed. Inside the train: pandemonium.

The next train stop was five minutes away.

It’s a great story. And as I recall, there are certainly plenty of seagulls around Frankston station.

A ferry comes into Circular Quay, Sydney
Note: this is not one of the alleged seagulls. Nor is this Frankston station.

You can call me a cynic if you like, but apart from the fact that it’s being told second hand, there are a few holes in this story that leave me doubting it’s true.

  • It’s two minutes to the next station at Kananook, not five. Yeah, maybe not a big deal. If it were real, it might seem like five.
  • If the miscreant threw the bag into the carriage as the doors closed, few if any seagulls would have time to react and follow it.
  • If he threw the bag in earlier, he wouldn’t know the doors would be about to close, because it’s a terminus station.
  • Here’s the clincher. It’s 2016. Do we really believe this could happen and nobody got mobile phone video or photos of it?

I’m prepared to be proven wrong, but I suspect it’s all fictional.

  • Update: Mashable has identified that the story is identical to a joke told by the late Maurie Fields on Hey Hey It’s Saturday circa 1989
  • Triple J have an interview with someone claiming to have been there, and saying it actually happened around 2007. If that was true, it would explain why there’s no smartphone footage of it, but it doesn’t explain the other issues with the story.

Update 5/2/2016: Well played Metro, well played.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

11 replies on “The seagull incident”

I like how PTV or Metro just said they won’t released CCTV footage until someone can provide an exact time and date.

An understandable response, and also a way to completely ignore the incident.

I’ve never seen a seagull at Brighton Beach station in 25 years. And it’s closer to the beach than Frankston station.

If there was a miscreant on board (of the human or seagull variety) one can usually filter through to the next carriage.

I do note that there’s a 33% chance of being stuck in a dead-end (at the end of a 3-car set), but I think it’s not too hard to get past some seagulls.

Completely irrelevant to the seagull saga:
Don’t know that you have mentioned it before but at the top of the escaltors for suburban and platform 15/16 unless you go outside the barriers you have NO IDEA where you train will be departing from either.
ie: You come in on a suburban service and want a Geelong train….No guarantee it is departing 15/16


That is typical of PTV.

As for the Seagul issue. If the prankster was to listen to announcements ‘this train is about to depart’. would he have time to pull off the prank?

I’m an ex train driver at Frankston. There are many seagulls that scavenge through the carriages. Once they hear the doors closing, they get out.

On a couple of trains where the tones don’t work, a few seagulls have been trapped until Kananook station.

Sometimes the train has to sit at Frankston with the doors shut prior to actually departing.

I believe this story is possible.

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