Walking between carriages on a Comeng train

I’ve long thought the signage on Comeng and Hitachi trains about walking between the carriages was unclear. Going back a while, they talked about using them for “communication” but not “travel” — confusing to most.

Recently they’ve said “Please do not travel on platform between carriages”, which implies people should not use those doors to walk between the carriages at all. That’s not quite right.

They now appear to be replacing it with a more detailed version, seen here in red and white, below the older sign:

Comeng train: notice at end of carriage

I think it makes the situation a little clearer.

“Please do not walk through gangway whilst train is in motion.” — In other words, it’s okay to use the door and gangway to move between carriages, but not while the train is moving — it’s less safe, after all, particularly when lurching across junctions and so on.

“Please do not travel on the platform between the carriages.” — It’s not okay to stand on the platform as the train moves along, having a smoke or whatever.

In the legislation there are a couple of points which appear to be relevant here:

  • 34A. Vehicle in motion: A person must not, without reasonable excuse, enter onto a part of a rail vehicle not designed for the purpose of carriage while the vehicle is in motion.
  • 46. Operating doors: A person must not, without reasonable excuse … open or hold open any door on any rail vehicle or road vehicle while the vehicle is in motion if the door provides access to the outside of the vehicle.

Of course on Siemens trains, there’s no door; the carriage space is almost continuous (and thus, it seems, “designed for the purpose of carriage”). On X’Trapolis trains (which I think have the same notice) there are sliding doors, but the area between the carriages is entirely enclosed (making the warning seem overly cautious).

There seems to be repeated talk that future models of trains will have completely continuous carriage space for passengers, to maximise capacity, and it sounds like they’ll most likely be in permanent six-carriage formation, with no centre cabs. Time will tell, of course.

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.

12 replies on “Walking between carriages on a Comeng train”

There was a picture from the Craigieburn incident of two Comeng carriages sandwiched hard together. Anyone travelling there would most certainly have been crushed and likely killed when the incident occurred. In my mind Comeng doors should simply carry a picture of that with the notice “this could happen to you”, which would carry far more weight than those signs which the bogans who tend to travel between carriages completely disregard anyway.

Of course the kinds of people who travel between carriages are probably no great loss to society anyway, but that’s another story…

In fact, I find the new signs extremely confusing. The first one seems to say it’s okay when the train’s stopped, and the second seems to say it’s never okay! After you’ve explained them your way, I can vaguely see that meaning, but really I think they’re abominable.

The original signs, about them being for communication not travel, made perfect sense to me: Authorised personnel could use them for communication, but ordinary people not.

Now, Nathan’s pictorial suggestion seems like a decent one. Alternatively, they should just say what they mean: “It is an offense for unauthorised personnel to open these doors or remain between them while the vehicle is in motion, because it may result in death or serious injury. This message also applies to young invincible males.”

Harking back in the dim dawn of silver trains (when inter-carriage communication between suburban carriages first appeared), the then VR highlighted this as a feature – passengers could move between cars. At the start, it was even intended that passengers could even move though unused drivering compartments to the next car (this feature was removed fairly early). So I’ve always read the ‘travel on platform between carriages’ as a prohibition against standing on the platform and riding, not crossing to the next carriage.

I actually think the new signs are just as unclear. ‘Please’, to me, is a request, not a command. So the signs are asking me not to use the platform while the train is in motion, or to ride on them. But I could ignore this request. (They do not say “Please do not smoke…” :-) The use of ‘please’ further suggests to me that it is, in fact, a legal grey area. If it was they would simply say “Do not…”

Yes, you would get squashed if you were riding between the carriages and the train was in a collision. But collisions are very uncommon. I suspect Metro is more concerned about people getting squashed by the movement of the handrails, or simply falling off. If you are worried about what happens in a collision, don’t sit in the very end seats in Comeng cars. In most of the accident reports, at least one carriage has been telescoped in this area.

What’s wrong with just “Keep out”? It gets the point across in plain English.

I don’t see why anyone *needs* to use that door to move between carriages. You’re not allowed to do it while the train is moving. And if the train is stopped, there’s a perfectly reasonable alternative: walk along the platform to the next carriage. If you do this as soon as the train stops, you have enough time to walk to the next door – unless your carriage is extremely full and you have to fight your way to the door, in which case you may as well stay where you are for the meantime, because the next carriage probably won’t be any better.

I like @Nathan’s suggestion about the picture.

@Bonnie, I’ve used the doors precisely once that I recall. I was on a train at Flinders Street (expected to leave any minute, but not sure precisely when) when another passenger started doing something irritating (but not illegal). I don’t honestly remember what it was; it may have been really loud sniffing or something along those lines (which I hate, esp when trying to concentrate on a book etc). Yes, I am a delicate petal.

The train departed a few seconds after I went through. Obviously if I’d have switched carriages via the platform, I’d have risked missing the train. Agree that under most circumstances (during a scheduled stop) this is possible however.

My guess – this is written from a public liability perspective in the event of something bad occuring. I’ve occasionally used these to move between carridges either because the carridge I entered was too crowded or I know someone in the next carridge. I read the sign as “Moving between carridges is dangerous, so as long as you are a responsible, able bodied person feel free to do so in expedious and careful manner.”

Bonnie says: “And if the train is stopped, there’s a perfectly reasonable alternative: walk along the platform to the next carriage.”

Sign says: Please do not travel along the platform between carriages.

Hmm ok.

I’ve been walking between carriages for years and I’m yet to have had any problem at all. There are hand rails and chains linking the rails. Even if you slipped you wouldn’t fall under the train or anything else. I’d put it in a similar danger category as ‘planking’. Don’t be an idiot about it and its not dangerous at all.

Its a liability issue, but its hardly a rule that is entirely justified. Plenty of reasons to move between carriages, getting away from irritating people or high pitch whining of electronics in the trains are my two most common reasons.

Also it is to stop people standing on them smoking or using them to have a piss from (still would have been preferable than those clowns holding the doors open at every stop that time.)

One use for changing carriages is to move from the carriage where it was most convenient to get on (for station entry and/or shelter purposes) to where it is most convenient to get off. It is perfectly safe to use the gangways while the train is stopped at a station.

Continuous carriages like on the Siemens seem like a good idea and fixed 6-carriage trains with no drivers compartments in the middle would add extra passenger capacity for a small loss in operational flexibility.

I think that you should really avoid waling between carriages. I think that it was being written as a reminder inside the train. It seems like a great warning to avoid further accident to happen.

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