Down in the Metro station at midnight

For the first time in many years, I caught the last train home last night.

So was it the dark, dingy, delayed and dangerous experience many assume it is? No.

12:06am — Waiting at Flinders Street
Waiting for the last train to Frankston

Quite a few people were on the platform for the last train
Waiting for the last train to Frankston

The train ride itself? Peacefully quiet. Along the way, at South Yarra and Ormond, the PSOs on duty could be seen intently studying those inside, looking for any trouble, but they found none.

It’ll be interesting to see if, as the Coalition predicted at least at one stage, the PSO deployment results in more people using trains at night, as perceptions of safety improve.

By the time we reached Bentleigh, those still aboard were reading, sleeping, or just quietly contemplating the world going by.
The last train to Frankston, approaching Bentleigh

Fact is, the only niggles on this particular train ride were the long wait (after about 10:30pm it’s half an hour between trains on most lines; I’d got there at about 11:55, so had to wait until 12:15) and the amount of litter in the carriage, which was noticeable though not out of control… neither of these issues will be fixed by PSOs, of course.

On alighting at Bentleigh to walk home, the station assistant was knocking off as the train departed.

And those of us leaving the train there walked off into the darkness.

PS. Saturday, for those who didn’t get the post title reference:

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 “Down in the Metro station at midnight”

But the other passengers wondered who the weird guy was taking photos of them at 12:30 at night. They decided that they wouldn’t use PT after dark again. ha ha.

Unfortunately, most lines still have half-hourly from 7-8pm. It is only the 3 long busy lines with 15-20 minutes services until about 10:30 and the Sandringham line with 20 services until the last train.

While I have always been a regular user of day time trains, for 30 years now, I always had avoided late night trains, out of fear, from what I hear from people about the dangers of late night trains.

However, I got to learn two years ago, how wrong I was. There is nothing to fear about being on a train late at night.

The P.S.O.s are sure to improve the public feel, and are sure to help as Daniel said, we should see an increase in the amount of people of whom use trains at night.

In any case, I now travel into the city on a monthly basis, in part because I do feel safer with the PSOs, and in part because I have learned just how popular late night trains are, especially on a Friday night.

Would be great if the services would run a couple of hours beyond midnight during weekdays. Taxis are too expensive and the nightrider services on weekends are pretty poor.

I have often taken trains and trams home at night and I never have felt unsafe or even uncomfortable.

The same problems prevent 24 hour trains, as it does in the London Underground. There needs time for maintenance.

While I would prefer more trains, we should at least have a better NightRider network, with at least something 7 nights and mornings a week.

What serious maintenance can they possibly do on train on train lines in say 4-5 hours? Metro seem to close lines eg loop or during the regional rail link upgrade and run bus replacements anyway when they need to do things on the lines. Run the trains every hour during late night/early morning and run a proper bus replacement if maintenance needs to be done anywhere on the lines.
Initially uptake may be slow, but surely being able to get in and out of the city easily at all times would increase activation. Its like they live in Ye olde world currently.

I couldn’t imagine running trains overnight into suburbia would serve much purpose.

Strangely enough most human life on a normal night seems to end around the same time the trains do – you’ll find quite a few people still wandering the CBD at 11:30pm but near-empty streets at 3am.

If you try traveling on an inbound train after 9pm on most lines you won’t exactly find many people – even on major lines the trains will only have a taxi load of people onboard further out. I doubt a train heading to the city at 2am would pick up many.

I think that a full time Nightrider setup like Sydney has could fill a void though.

One important job is, cleaning. The tunnels, especially in the London Underground, need to have the lint cleaned out every now and then so as to avoid a dangerous fire.

I guess there would be a number of minor jobs which can be done in those wee hours.

However, there is nothing to say, that we can not run to ‘single line working’ on some nights. Say, everyone use platforms 1 on Monday, Wednesday, and platform 2 on Tuesday and Thursday.

I’ve been working in the city until about midnight the last few months on Saturday nights and I must say there are still a few problems:

* Firstly, thirty minutes between services is a long time, although probably somewhat necessary for expense reasons.
* Secondly, cancelling trains at that hour seems pretty common, blowing 30 minute waits to hour long waits. What is worse is at that hour there are no platform staff that know anything and sometimes announcements are not even made; screens change and thats it.
* Finally, last Saturday the state of the concourse toilets was so absolutely foul that the entire Flinders Street concourse smelt like a urinal; utterly gross.

@Somebody – Plenty of people leave the city at about midnight precisely because its the last chance to get home without spending a fortune on a taxi. A handful more decide to drink all night until the first train and tram services begin again (a very regular occurrence amongst students when I lived at the Maribyrnong college for Vic Uni).

I doubt having 24-7 services for the trains could be justified at the moment, at least not weekdays; but hourly tram services Friday and Saturday nights are a long time overdue. Trying to catch a taxi anytime between 2-4am on a summers night can be an absolute nightmare. I’ve spent more than an hour trying to find one before and very nearly had my head punched in when I had the gall to open the taxi door of a cab I’d just flagged down, the gentleman threatening me had decided the taxi must have pulled over for him despite having just come from around the corner.

@TranzitJim – That wouldn’t work, not all the tracks are connected.

Having taken the last train home a lot on all days of the week on the Sandringham & Frankston line I can attest to how uneventful and safe it is. You would get more excitement on a midafternoon train.

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