Yesterday I was part of a group that inspected a mock-up of the X’Trapolis 2.0 train – which is set to rollout on the Upfield and Craigieburn lines in coming years, and potentially the Frankston line in the future, replacing the Comeng fleet.
They also did this kind of stakeholder engagement with the HCMT fleet back in 2017-18. It’s valuable – it means the project team can get perspectives that wouldn’t otherwise have been considered.
At this stage they’re not sure if the mock-up will be publicly displayed. Hopefully.
Here are some photos and comments.
I know some people don’t love the external cab design. It’s not beautiful, but I think it’s fine.
One distinctive part of this train’s external design is the pelmet along the side – the section at the top that the doors are attached to, and that the external cameras are mounted on.
The doors are external, so they don’t take up space within the carriage when opened, as they do on the HCMT fleet. They also apparently work well with Platform Screen Doors, reducing the gap between the train door and the platform door.
We did have a discussion about exactly how the door buttons work with the project team. The HCMT design needs improvement (they confusingly lock for a short time if a passenger dares to press the button just before the light goes on), and at the moment we’ve still got a situation where buttons on the older X’Trapolis 1 and Siemens trains behave differently. Needs more consistency.
As with the HCMT and Siemens fleet, there is continuous space along the train, so you can easily move between carriages. They seem to be trying out whether the seats nearest the carriage ends need handles or not – I think they should have them.
The front section of the front carriage has plenty of room for mobility aids, eg wheelchairs. The vertical pole in the foreground of this photo is present in most doorways, but not at the front of the train. These are very handy (pardon the pun) for most passengers, but difficult to manoeuvre around for users with mobility difficulties.
Assuming there are at least some older platforms with a gap, mobility aids can be loaded using a ramp, which is stored in a compartment next to the door, and can be deployed quickly by the driver.
In other sections of the train, there are a lot more seats. The doorways have displays indicating the next station.
The high-backed seats in most sections of the train seem comfortable enough; similar to VLocity train seats. Leg space isn’t too bad, even where seats face each other. While each seat is not super roomy, having 2×2 seating means you’ll never sit next to more than one person.
The longitudinal (wall) seats are slightly less comfortable… they seem quite cosy when you’re sitting between other people. There was some talk from the project team that they might space them out a bit more – I hope this is the case. Some designs in other cities include intermediate arm rests or bars to help separate the seats.
Further back there’s space for bikes. Note the strap to secure the bike. Obviously the emphasis should be on bike parking at stations – government needs to do a lot more on this. But some cyclists may sometimes need to bring their bikes on trains, so it makes sense to have some space for them.
I don’t quite understand why they don’t allocate the big front section for wheelchairs (where the driver can easily access the ramps), and reuse that space for bikes at the back of the train, with dynamic displays showing that’s in use – changing it when the train reverses at a terminus. Especially as it’s very common for the middle of the train to be busier with other passengers than either end.
There are dynamic route displays along the insides of the carriages. We did notice a lack of network maps, apart from 3 near the driver’s cab. These are still useful for people making connections to other lines.
There are quite a few places to hold on – most seat backs have handles, there are bars in the doorways, and hand holds like this – though arguably not enough of them.
The driver controls. Wisely the horn button was not operative. I won’t pretend to know what all the controls do, but they’ve had drivers review the design. It’s also adaptable to in-cab signalling in the future if required – the speed limit panel can come out and be adapted for that.
Overall it looks like a pretty good design. Internally it very much has a similar feel to the HCMT fleet, with the passenger features one would expect in 2023.
It’s good to see plenty of places to hold on, though there are still some sections where a few more could be provided.
Being able to walk right through the carriages helps make the train feel quite spacious.
There won’t be intermediate cabs – it’ll be a permanent 6 car formation. They’re expecting the first of them to roll out around 2025.
They should be a nice upgrade from the Comeng fleet.
More views, photos and commentary: