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Which train on which line?

Recent changes mean that most Metro lines now run only one type of train.

It may not be obvious to passengers, but Metro this month has quietly made changes to rosters and the allocations of trains to different lines.

Update 12/7/2024: It appears this may not have been fully implemente yet.

I can’t say I’d even noticed, but I came across this Youtube video about it:

To summarise:

  • The Sandringham line has moved to all Siemens trains
  • The Craigieburn, Sunbury and Upfield lines is now all Comeng trains – apart from a couple of Sunbury services using Evolution HCMTs
  • The Burnley and Clifton Hill groups remain with only X’Trapolis trains – this has been the case for some years now
  • The Cranbourne/Pakenham lines run with all HCMTs – as has been the case for a year or two
  • The only lines with a mix of trains is the Cross-City group (Frankston, Werribee, Williamstown lines), with Comeng, Siemens and X’Trapolis trains

For those not familiar with the train types, here they are:

Melbourne's four train types, 2024: X'Trapolis, Siemens, Comeng, Evolution HCMT

From left to right:

  • X’Trapolis (introduced 2002-2020)
  • Siemens (introduced 2003-2006)
  • Comeng (introduced 1981-1989)
  • Evolution HCMT (introduced 2020-2024)

As the video notes, this makes sense because each type of has Train Maintenance Facilities (TMF) at particular spots on the network. So it’s now easier to get Siemens trains to their TMF at Newport, or Comeng trains to Craigieburn. The HCMTs have Pakenham East, and X’Trapolis trains have Bayswater or Epping.

The video also talks about the reduced requirements for driver training, as there are fewer combinations of trains vs lines to learn.

Another advantage is that all the trains on a line will have similar performance: acceleration, deceleration. In theory the timetable could be optimised for them, though I don’t know if this is ever done.

Overall though, I see this as a maturing of the network. It’s now big enough and has enough resources that they can optimise the fleet for these types of efficiencies.

Expected changes in coming years include:

  • When the Metro tunnel opens, HCMTs will run all Cranbourne/Pakenham/Sunbury services.
  • Frankston will revert to running via the Loop, with no through-routing… presumably still with a mix of train types.
  • Sandringham will connect to the Williamstown/Werribee lines, presumably entirely or mostly running Siemens trains. X’Trapolis trains can’t run on the Sandringham line.
  • The Upfield and Craigieburn lines will continue running Comeng trains, but these will be replaced in due course by X’Trapolis 2 trains.

Anyway, the video is only 8 minutes long, and is worth a watch if you’re interested in such things:

And something to ponder: if we get to a semi-permanent allocation of dedicated fleet types to specific lines, is it time to invest in retro-fitting platform screen doors across the network?

Differing train door positions have been a blocker for this in the past, but on many lines this is no longer an issue. And it’d have huge benefits in terms of safety and reduction in disruptions.

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.

18 replies on “Which train on which line?”

I saw the video by Straya Trains last week. For the Northern Loop lines, it may appear to be unfair that these lines have the oldest trains, but remember that Sunbury (which is my line) is due to get the HCMTs either later this year or early next year when the Metro Tunnel opens, while Craigieburn and Upfield will get the XTrapolis 2.0 at around the same time or in 2026. And with the Werribee and Williamstown lines, they will almost certainly become Siemens only when it is combined with Sandringham.

There will also be changes to the Burnley Group when the Metro Tunnel opens and that is most services from Glen Waverley being taken out of the loop with the exception of peak services.

But I feel that this is a great idea, but remember when the network was divided into Hillside Trains (which became Connex) and Bayside Trains (which became M>Train, which has largely been lost to history due to issues regarding ownership), the drivers hated the split. But many of the great networks around the world have done something similar to what Melbourne is now doing and it could be a good thing going forward.

Platform Screen Doors (PSD) prevent running vintage trains that stop at stations and do the passenger on-off thing. Given the current mix of trains it might be prudent to wait until purity-of-type is well established before putting in PSDs. PSDs, with different spacings across the various lines may inhibit the ability to re-route trains to different platforms at Spencer Street and Flinders Street. It may also be a problem for the loop if it is running a heterogeneous mix of types. It may well have an effect on future procurement as trains would have to be procured to meet a specific PSD spacing thereby locking us into historical spacings.

Are there any figures for, let’s say, the last twenty years of incidents and accidents that would have been prevented by PSDs? I note that our nemesis Wikipedia has a list of some of the incidents caused by PSDs: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platform_screen_doors#Incidents

It hasn’t reduced driver training.
Training is still 51 weeks as Drivers are North (Burnley, Clifton Hill + 1 Train type) or South (Northern, Cross City, Caulfield + 4 Train types).
Limiting a driver to a particular group would reduce training but increase complacency and increase threat and error risk such as PAEs, WSDR, etc… Drivers rightly are opposed to such a move for safety reasons.
The old 73 week training program trained Drivers across all lines and all Train types increasing productivity and availability. The current scheme hasn’t resulted in the efficiencies dreamed of by PTV bureaucrats and has reduced productivity significantly. If the north side turns to shit, we could have 15 stand by drivers who are south side qualified who can’t assist. Go figure.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Comengs get removed from the Frankston line entirely in the future. They simply can’t keep up with its demanding timetable and always end up being late into Frankston.

Daniel, can you advise why Xtrapolis cannot run on the Sandringham line?

And can anyone advise which type of train has proved most reliable? I know the Siemens had issues years ago.

Winners and losers. I feel sorry to Craigieburn and Upfield line passengers. I’ve only recently realised how much nice Siemens trains are than X’Trapolis trains.

i wish the glen waverley line uses the HCMT instead of the Xtrap trains. HCMT is the best

@Brian, yeah there’s certainly some stations and some platforms where you’d want to avoid Platform Screen Doors, including those where V/Line trains stop. But I reckon most platforms would only have one type of train.

This article says there are about 3000 trespasser incidents per year. https://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-updates/alarming-spike-in-melbourne-train-track-trespassers/news-story/eb1ff0f368749d98721711e114d2a079

@Tim, I’m not sure of the details, but all trains need thorough testing on lines before being used, and in some cases infrastructure modifications are required.

@Andrew, remember the lines with Comeng trains will get the X’Trapolis 2.0 trains first.

@Angus, Mernda and Hurstbridge (the Clifton Hill lines) run X’Trapolis trains.

Another, less obvious, change was made – the Train Description Numbers for services running on the Dandenong Corridor now start with a C, not a 4. This is because there weren’t enough numbers on the old system (shared with the Frankston line) for the Tunnel Time Table. While it hasn’t happened yet, those out west will start with a Z, not a 6, for the same reason (but instead shared with Craigieburn and Upfield).

@Lachlan, as a commuter on the Sunbury line, is there a possibility that there will be another change for Sunbury when the Metro Tunnel opens as Sunbury will be through routed with Cranbourne and East Pakenham lines? Or will Sunbury use the same system as is being adopted now (starting with a Z instead of 6)? It reminds me of a video that Straya Trains did a couple of months ago about the code for each service, so check it out on YouTube if you have a chance, even though it may be dated now.

Everyone has gotten carried away about this misleading YouTube video that is exaggerating the situation and nobody is doing fact checks.

The reality is the Southside lines (Northern, Cross City and Dandenong groups) lines have a preferred train type, not a required train type. Comengs and Siemens can and do still run over the entire Southside network (especially Northern and Cross City).

There have even been countless sightings since the video was posted. Just like there have been on the Dandenong group in the 1.5 years since people said the same thing about those lines.

@indigohex3 – Yes. When the tunnel opens, trains on the Sunbury line will all go through the tunnel and start using Zxxx TDNs, not 6xxx TDNs. Trains will switch from C’s to Z’s (and vice versa) at Town Hall.

To @Anonymous, I just saw a Siemens train at Watergardens (which is on the Sunbury line, which is almost entirely Comeng now), as well as seeing a Test Train Down HCMT (which must mean that some of the testing has been extended towards the Sunbury end of the line, and the Sunbury line is due to get the HCMTs).

@indigohex3 – there are already two Sunbury line services run by HCMTs on each weekday so no need for testing – the HCMT at Watergardens on Sunday would have been returning to Calder Park to stable after a weekend of EMI testing in the Metro Tunnel.

@Marcus, I stand corrected. I saw it on the displays on the train at Watergardens (I was on the bus heading from Watergardens when I saw the text on the destination display).

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