transport TV

World’s Busiest Stations

SBS is showing UK rail documentary series World’s Busiest Stations – and last night they aired the episode set in Melbourne.

Although it’s ostensibly about specific busy stations, the series looks more broadly at the local rail networks.

You can watch it on SBS On Demand. It’s well worth a look for a view inside Metro’s operations – and in particular, what happens when they deal with incidents.

It was filmed in early 2019. Digging through Twitter, I found what appear to be the incidents shown in the program.

Kensington: on CCTV they spotted a man believed to be known for threatening self-harm. (I think they mention Train 8316 – that’s a V/Line service.)

Carnegie: a pantograph down – this was the Monday after a works closure, and there was damage to the overhead for several kilometres along the Dandenong line:

Eaglemont: The very next day, a person was hit by a train, at the start of evening peak hour, disrupting the Hurstbridge line for several hours:

Middle Gorge: a few days later, a trespasser on the Mernda line:

These shows (and the Brits have done lots of them in recent years) are edited to show things going wrong. Everything running smoothly perhaps doesn’t make for riveting viewing.

Seeing all these events unfold over just a few days is a reminder that lots of little disruptions are going on all the time around the rail network.

Some of these delays can be prevented or minimised by measures to make the system safer and more efficient: level crossing removals, platform screen doors, duplicating single track to reduce the impact of delays. And how authorities react to emerging issues is also obviously important.

The other episodes of the series are also worthwhile. I particularly noticed the Zurich episode talks about legendary Swiss punctuality… then notes about 90% of trains are on time. Only 90%? Ah yes, but that’s measured to with 3 minutes – not the 5 minutes (for Metro Melbourne) or 6 to 11 (for V/Line) used here!

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.

4 replies on “World’s Busiest Stations”

I watched some of the program last night and felt rather proud that daggy Melbourne featured in an episode.
Having travelled on Swiss railways in 2019, many of the regional lines are single track, meaning that trains have to wait at sidings for on-coming trains to pass. This could be a reason for lower punctuality.

I recorded the programme but because of changing PVR machines, I will now watch it on my tablet. I’ve trespassed on train tracks, where the inner circle left the mainline. The passing train driver gave me a wave as I think he knew what I was looking at and why I was there. I think at times there is an overreaction about trespassers on train tracks leading to unnecessary halting or delay to services.

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