Metro Trains Frequently Asked Questions
Every week Metro completes $12 million of work to maintain and renew our infrastructure, trains and technology. And we’re helping to deliver an unprecedented pipeline of major network improvements such as level crossing removals, the Metro Tunnel, bigger trains and new stations and track. We thank our passengers for their patience while we complete critical upgrade works that will deliver lasting benefits for all.
Q. Why do buses replace for works?
- Major project works, such as removing level crossings and building new stations, sometimes require buses to replace trains on section so network for days, weeks or even months.
- Planned maintenance works keep the railway running safely and reliably for our passengers.
- They can include replacing track, signals and other equipment or even cutting and clearing trees from along the sides of railway lines.
- For minor works, we can still keep running trains but for major works, such as replacing rails, sleepers or overhead wires, buses need to replace trains for safety reasons.
- Rails and overhead electrical wires are in contact with moving trains every day of the week and can wear down over time – so they need to be maintained, renewed and replaced on a regular basis.
- Sleepers (the concrete and timber slabs which lie underneath the rails) and ballast (the stones on which the sleepers lie) are regularly maintained and routinely replaced.
Q. Why can’t work be done when the trains aren’t running overnight during the week?
- Our priority is minimising the disruption to our passengers as a result of planned works as much as possible.
- Making the rail environment safe is our top priority.
- Services run 24 hours during weekends and from around 4am to 1am on weekdays. Freight trains and empty train movements operate 24 hours a day.
- Moving the required equipment, rail workers and materials into position for works, and carrying out the necessary safety checks, can take time.
- Trains can’t safely resume until these safety checks have been completed.
- Metro works hard to schedule these works at times when they are the least disruptive to passengers – usually at night and on weekends.
- When maintenance work requires a section of a rail line to be shut over a weekend, we schedule multiple pieces of work in to maximise productivity.
From time to time, track and equipment faults occur on the Metro network. Our priority is to minimise the disruptions to our passengers as much as possible.
Q. What’s the difference between train, track and equipment faults?
- Train faults are any issue relating to a train itself. For safety reasons, we may need to take the train out of service for repairs.
- Track faults are issues that affect the points and crossings on the railway (which allow trains to move from one track to another), sleepers, rails and train detection systems.
- Equipment faults are all issues impacting other rail infrastructure, including signalling, level crossings and overhead electrical lines – all of which are critical to running a safe and reliable service.
Q. Why does faulty equipment cause trains to be delayed or suspended?
- If trains, tracks, signalling or electrical systems are damaged, Metro may be required to slow or even suspend train services for a period of time.This process ensures the safety of our passengers and employees.
- If a fault occurs, our systems are designed to prevent further safety issues from occurring. For example, if a system fails or is damaged, signalling equipment will automatically tell an approaching train driver to stop for safety reasons.
- Metro has maintenance crews across different engineering fields (such as signalling, electrical, track and structures) available right across the metropolitan network.
- This means they can quickly travel to an area where a problem has occurred and undertake any necessary repairs to get passengers moving again as soon as possible.
- In some cases, what was originally reported to be a fault may turn out to be vandalism (such as cable theft or graffiti) or another external cause (such as a third-party power fault or a vehicle colliding with a bridge).
- When responding to these disruptions, our priority will always be the safety of our passengers an employees and keeping you informed.
Q. Why does rail equipment become faulty and what are you doing to prevent them?
- To ensure rail equipment is operating at its best to get passengers where they need to go, Metro carries out $12 million in maintenance to infrastructure, trains and technology every week.
- There are millions of different components on our network that we routinely check and maintain – occasionally some of these will become faulty.
- Our engineers and technicians regularly inspect and maintain the tracks, points, crossings, signals and overhead wires.
- Our teams are working hard every day to minimise delays caused by trespassing, emergency services requests, equipment faults, ill passengers, vandalism, external power outages, infrastructure upgrade works, vehicles on level crossings and extreme weather.
- Metro assesses the condition of the track and overhead wires using ultrasound, laser, vibration and visual recording equipment.
- We focus maintenance efforts on the most common types of infrastructure faults based on detailed data.
- Based on this data we have been proactively monitoring, fixing or replacing the infrastructure most likely to cause an incident that impacts on passengers.
- This meant putting extra focus on points, track circuits, and signals, all of which can have a direct impact on improving performance on the network.
Illegal behavior can be dangerous and delays our passengers.
Q. Why are services delayed by trespassing?
- Trespassing on the railway is incredibly dangerous and can stop trains in their tracks – causing significant and unnecessary disruption to our passengers.
- New anti-trespasser ground panels are being trialled at five railway stations across the network to improve safety and curb the number of incidents that delay passengers. The innovative panels – both a physical and visual deterrent – discourage pedestrians from taking illegal shortcuts at their local station, improving the reliability of services for all passengers. They feature raised rubber pyramids to create an unstable surface, making it difficult for pedestrians to get around them and onto the rail corridor.
- Our Network Security and Surveillance (NSS) team is a special unit tasked with keeping passengers and Metro workers safe and cracking down on people illegally accessing the network.
- NSS officers use Metro’s 9,000-strong CCTV camera network – which includes cameras at stations and inside trains – as well as state-of-the-art surveillance equipment – such as drones, a purpose-built mobile CCTV trailer and thermal-imaging cameras.
- All intelligence, including surveillance images and CCTV, is provided to Victoria Police to support investigations, and bring criminals to justice through the courts.
- People caught trespassing on the Metro network can be fined up to $3,304.
Q. How does vandalism of a train cause delays and cancellations?
- Graffiti and vandalism has no place on our network – it’s ugly, illegal and an issue we continue to tackle across the community. Vandalism to trains and rail equipment can cause disruption to our passengers.
- For example, broken windows and damaged doors on trains can create safety issues– and the train needs to be taken out of service for repairs.
- Forcing doors on trains can damage the door-locking mechanism and the train has to be removed from service – which can result in a cancellation.
- Train doors are not like those on a lift. It’s never safe to try to prevent them from closing.
Q. What is Metro we doing to reduce incidents of vandalism?
- Metro spends $10 million each year to prevent and clean up graffiti and vandalism.
- Metro has hundreds of station employees and Authorised Officers on the network every day to keep our passengers safe and crack down on vandalism.
- The specialist Network Security and Surveillance team is tasked with tackling incidents of graffiti, vandalism and trespass across the network.
- They work closely with Victoria Police to detect, deter and prosecute vandals who damage our trains and rail equipment.
- Technology including mobile CCTV cameras and surveillance drones are also being deployed to reduce crime on the network.
From time to time, significant weather events in Melbourne can impact our ability to run a reliable service for passengers.
Q. Why do strong winds, storms and rainy weather affect the rail system?
- Trees, branches and other objects (such as balloons and plastic) can be blown across the tracks, or into the overhead wires, by strong winds.
- In some cases debris can be removed quickly – other incidents may require us to stop trains for safety reasons.
- Metro technicians may need to isolate high voltage electrical systems before removing the object.
- Flash flooding can cause significant issues as trains can’t run on tracks that are under water, and the water itself can damage or short circuit our electrical equipment, and impact our station infrastructure.
- Just like in a car, rain and fog can reduce visibility for train drivers – so they may slow down to keep you safe as they drive to the conditions. At full speed and in good weather, a train can take up to a kilometre to stop – even longer in the wet.
Q. How does hot weather affect the rail system?
- Extreme temperatures impact every railway around the world.
- Train tracks and overhead electrical lines are designed for an average temperature in line with the Melbourne climate.
- Each metropolitan line is fitted with a number of electronic sensors to measure track temperature in real-time.
- Metro implements a maximum of 80km/h speed restriction on individual sections of track when the rail temperature reaches 55 degrees or higher.
- By using actual track temperature, rather than the forecast or ambient temperature, we’re able to target speed restrictions to where they’re needed and avoid unnecessary delays on the parts of the network where the tracks are below 55 degrees.
- On days where the ambient temperature reaches 42 degrees, the maximum speed limit is reduced to 70km/h across the entire Metro network.
- During extreme heat when speed restrictions are in place, some services will run late as trains can only travel at 70 or 80kmh on parts of the network where they usually travel at up to 110kmh.
We are always striving to deliver the best possible service for the people who rely on our trains every day.
Q. How can delays in one part of Melbourne affect trains on another part of the network?
- Melbourne’s rail network covers more than 1000 kilometres.
- Currently all lines connect at Flinders Street Station.
- When a disruption occurs, passengers may notice changes to their services departing from Flinders Street, with the potential for knock-on delays to multiple lines.
- Some lines run directly through Flinders Street to link with other lines on the other side of the city (such as Werribee and Frankston).
- In these cases, an issue on one line can impact another.
Q. Why are services sometimes altered?
- Alterations are only used to avoid knock-on delays to more people – because a delayed train can impact passengers on every train behind it.
- Train controllers make real-time decisions to alter some services with the whole network in mind, to reduce delays to more passengers.
- When alterations to services are necessary, our priority is informing our passengers so they can make timely decisions.
- Reasons for service alterations include ill passengers, vandalism, infrastructure faults, bad weather and trespassers.
- The City Loop is near capacity with trains running every two to three minutes during peak times. If a train is delayed and misses its path through the Loop, trains need to queue for position into the Loop, delaying the services behind them.
Melbourne is growing which means there is more demand than ever on our train services to get people where they need to go.
Q. What is platform congestion and why does it cause delays?
- In peak periods, every second counts to ensure trains are moving as efficiently as possible and passengers are getting to their destinations on time. This is why we are focussing on a number of measures to make boarding more efficient, enhance safety, and reduce the time a train spends on platforms during peak periods.
- We are seeing passenger growth across the network, with more people choosing to travel by train than ever before.
- We started the ‘burn line’ initiative in our central stations and have now rolled it out to 100 stations, 118 platforms and 415 Passenger Information Screens across the Network. The burn line – a visual train departure countdown – is reducing last-second boarders forcing train doors and shaving crucial seconds off departures.
- Like planes at an airport, trains are allotted a platform and specific arrival and departure times. If these times are not met, it can cause knock-on delays to the services behind them, inconveniencing more passengers.
Q. How is the Stony Point line different to the other Metro lines?
- The Stony Point line runs the 30.6km from Frankston to Stony Point on the east side of the Mornington Peninsula.
- It is the only Metro line that uses V/Line diesel trains.
Our commitment is to provide timely, accurate and personalised information for our passengers.
- We communicate to passengers through station and train announcements, our station staff, website, twitter, metroNotify app and information displays.
- When changes to a service are necessary, our priority is to ensure our passengers are kept informed so they can make timely decisions.
Q. Why does it appear that some escalators at some stations on the network are switched off?
Some escalators are turned off during off-peak travel times to extend the life of the escalator units by reducing wear and tear on them. Passenger flow is not impacted as escalators are only rested during off-peak times. Our staff continually monitor passenger flows at stations and will restart the escalators if passenger numbers require this.