All signs point to a bright future for Metro’s newest recruit

25 Jun 2021, James Ireland
Earlier this year graduate architect Kushagra Jhurani had applied for at least 200 jobs across Australia without any success. He decided to hit the streets and make his resume public – standing opposite Southern Cross Station with a sign saying “Looking 4 a graduate of architecture? HIRE ME”. In April, Metro digital engineering manager Scott Poll was heading to work when he spotted the graduate standing on Spencer Street with his sign. “I thought that’s a young kid with a lot of courage to be able to do that, at one of the busiest intersections in the city. “If he is willing to do that, I know he is going to be willing to be a hard worker.” When he got to the office, Mr Poll thought he should go back and speak to the young man about a possible role, but when he returned, Kushagra had taken his search for work elsewhere. Metro’s team of graduates then got online to begin the desperate search for Kushagra, and eventually found him on LinkedIn. After exchanging messages and a formal interview process, Mr Jhurani was offered a position as a draftsperson with Metro. He commenced work on 24 May. Mr Jhurani says, “I never thought actually this would work. I am in awe to be honest, and I am very grateful to Scott that he took me in.” His advice for other jobseekers trying to break into competitive industries? Put yourself out there. “Not necessarily what I did, but you shouldn’t be scared — you can only give your best shot.”

A more reliable power supply means more reliable trains

24 Jun 2021, James Ireland
Electrical substations are critical pieces of railway infrastructure that help Metro operate trains, signals and communications equipment across the network. At Box Hill, in Melbourne’s east, the substation has undergone significant upgrades to improve the reliability of services. New equipment allows Metro’s electrical engineers to remotely access the substation to operate equipment – rather than having to go to the site in person. This new process significantly improves the speed in which Metro can diagnose and fix power supply issues that may otherwise delay passengers. It’s also creating a safer environment for engineers to carry out maintenance. The upgrades also mean Comeng and X’Trapolis trains can run more reliably than ever for passengers who use the Belgrave, Lilydale and Alamein lines. Metro Trains Senior Project Manager Chris Hughes says, “It probably isn’t one of those projects that many people have heard of, but its benefits for the network are huge. “The integration of any new equipment onto the Metro network simply can’t succeed without the support of multiple teams, and this project is a brilliant example of that.” These upgrades also allowed the power capacity of the substation to be increased from 1.5MW to 2.5MW – providing more capacity to run trains efficiently and reliably. Originally built back in the 1960s, the Box Hill substation equipment was approaching the end of its useable life. The team completed the upgrades during an extended weekend occupation. The remote switching systems are serving as a ‘testing ground’ to be rolled out to other locations, including major project sites across the Metro network.

Metro Trains staff step up to get vaccinated

7 Jun 2021, James Ireland
Expanded eligibility for public transport workers in Victoria has paved the way for some Metro Trains staff to get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. CEO Raymond O’Flaherty joined colleagues from Metro’s Infrastructure and Stations teams, who were keen and eligible to get vaccinated at Monash Health’s Sandown Racecourse hub. Mr O’Flaherty urged public transport workers who are eligible to consider the opportunity to get vaccinated now. “We all want to move beyond this pandemic and get back to our normal way of life – and vaccination is our best hope,” Mr O’Flaherty said. In May, health authorities announced expanded eligibility for public transport workers in frontline roles. In keeping with the current public health advice, a group of eight frontline Metro employees got their first vaccinations. Mr O’Flaherty praised the on-going dedication of all public transport workers in Victoria. “Since the start of this pandemic, public transport employees in Victoria have turned up for work day after day. “As the situation evolved, their commitment to keeping essential workers moving on public transport only grew stronger,” he said. As Melbourne deals with the latest public health challenges, Metro continues to run services to a full timetable. “I couldn’t be prouder of the contribution of all public transport employees, and their commitment to keep Melbourne moving. “I am also proud of the fact that we have continued to deliver all of our scheduled train services,” Mr O’Flaherty said.
Grasslands at Diggers Rest

Endangered plants and animals cared for by Metro Trains

18 May 2021, James Ireland
Did you know that the Melbourne rail network has 30 biodiversity sites that are home to critically endangered plants and animals? These sites are cared for by Metro’s Biodiversity team, which ensures these species will be around for future generations. Known as ‘remnant vegetation’, the site at Diggers Rest is a volcanic plains grassland, which is critically endangered. Only one percent of the original grasslands is left. The 1,200 square-metre site is home to many critically endangered plants such as the spiny rice flower and arching flax lily, as well as animals such as the growling grass frog, striped legless lizard and Southern Brown Bandicoot. Biodiversity Manager Neal Masters says these types of grasslands used to stretch from Melbourne to South Australia. “To end up with small fragments like this, it’s critical we look after them. They are home to such a wide variety of endangered plants – so they are like mini national parks for us.” Hand-weeding to remove introduced species is a technique used to ensure that native plants thrive. Metro works closely with Indigenous Australians to understand how best to conduct contained burns, ensuring the plants can grow in the right way, as well as protecting the area from bushfires. The ABC’s Gardening Australia program visited the Diggers Rest site to see it in full bloom. Watch here.

New digital map technology supports better rail maintenance

14 May 2021, James Ireland
Innovative map technology is giving Metro Trains’ maintenance teams a complete digital picture of the Melbourne rail network to better plan and deliver works. Known as MetroMap, the tool is designed to improve maintenance activities and network performance by providing a single portal for operations and maintenance staff. Geographic Information System Lead Nevin Wilson said the new technology allows users to view station locations, track, signals, overhead structures, and other key rail equipment that is routinely maintained by Metro. “MetroMap is a centralised system which collates multiple sources of information in a single application, so staff can see everything they need in the one place. “It’s a user-friendly portal with information that is easy to understand.” The application gives Metro staff access to a visual representation of 2D and 3D asset data, environmental information, and analytical tools to support infrastructure planning. These capabilities will support improved maintenance and renewal across the network and ensure services continue to run safely and reliably for passengers. Further enhancements to MetroMap are planned including integrating the system into other Metro systems and additional location search capabilities. Production Manager – Infrastructure Patrick Raymond said MetroMap represents a major step change in the way maintenance work is currently planned and delivered. “This really is a ‘one-stop shop’ to support the delivery of Metro’s maintenance and renewal program. “By giving our people a full digital picture of the network, we can better plan our maintenance activities and ensure the network is performing to the highest possible standard.” As part of its contract with the Victorian Government, Metro spends $12 million every week on works to maintain trains, rail equipment and technology.

Reflecting on Rail R U OK? Day

4 May 2021, Andrew Nelson
Rail R U OK? Day is one of the most important events on the rail industry calendar. It’s a day that holds special significance and poignancy for Metro’s team of Multi-Modal Authorised Officers (MMAOs) who gather to reflect on the day and its deeply personal connection. Three years ago, one of their much-loved colleagues died from self-harm. Since the tragedy, the MMAO team has committed to an ongoing discussion and providing support to team members, with the R U OK? conversation a feature of every meeting, every day. Team Leader Rehana Rehman said the conversation involved a “welfare check” at the start of each shift to ensure everyone is fit to be at work, and again at the day’s end.

Giving back: New grants to support local communities

26 Apr 2021, James Ireland
The latest round of Metro Cares Community Grants will provide a combined $33,000 to 22 community projects and organisations from around Melbourne. The grants will back a diverse range of grassroots activities – including in a new category of ‘Welfare and Crisis Support’ – to better recognise mental health and family violence, and support initiatives in these important fields. There’s also support for local sports clubs and community groups, environmental conservation and fire safety education. In addition, Metro will donate $12,000 to Melbourne City Mission’s Frontyard Youth Homelessness Crisis Accommodation Program, providing 126 nights of accommodation and caring for young people in emergency situations. Metro CEO Raymond O’Flaherty says, “I was pleased to see the width and breadth of successful nominations, which include support for local sports clubs and community groups, environmental conservation and fire safety education. “Thank you to everyone who took time to nominate their local community organisation or charity. With this support, we will continue to make a difference for the people of Melbourne.” Applications for the grants are provided by Metro staff who wish to support a community group or charitable organisation that has helped them to connect to their community. The full recipients list: Aberfeldie Brownie Guides Warrandyte Basketball Association 2nd Melton Scout Group Fitzroy City Soccer Club Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin – North West Metropolitan Keysborough Fire Brigade Bessie Creek/Ararat Creek Landcare Group Brunswick South-West Education Primary Friends of Canadian Corridor Zonta International Melbourne East Somers Parade Kindergarten Western Beaches Outrigger Canoe Club Williamstown Cricket Club Fijian Community Association Victoria Toastmasters Eastern Raiders Softball Club Friends of Herring Island Goldfields Paddlers Baw Baw L2P The Big Umbrella Monbulk Care Network Moonee Valley Football Club

Kicking goals: Metro launches partnership with The Fitzroy Stars

13 Apr 2021, James Ireland
Metro has celebrated its new partnership with The Fitzroy Stars Football and Netball Club by joining players and staff for the season-opening round. Last year, Metro committed to a major partnership with the Stars – but like many community sports clubs last year – their season was cancelled because of coronavirus. Now a year in the making, CEO Raymond O’Flaherty and members of Metro’s Reconciliation Action Plan team joined fellow supporters to celebrate the start of the 2021 season.

CCTV upgrades provide a safer train network for Melbourne

12 Apr 2021, James Ireland
Security on the Metro network has been improved thanks to the completion of upgrades to more than 7,000 CCTV cameras and systems across Melbourne. The new system – which has been upgraded over the past six months – provides Metro and Victoria Police with real-time, remote access to footage of safety incidents, including trespassing and vandalism. The upgrades also provide remote access to archived footage from any time in the past 60 days. By speeding up access to CCTV footage on the rail network, Metro and police can better resolve incidents that potentially delay thousands of train passengers. The upgrades will also ensure that new stations being built as part of the Level Crossing Removal Project and Metro Tunnel have the most up-to-date functionality. Metro Project Manager John Agosta says, “While our passengers and the general public may not notice these changes, this upgrade gives us a greater ability to capture and record passenger and trespasser incidents with greater speed and functionality. “It will also provide increased capability and access to historical CCTV footage up to 60 days – doubling the capabilities of the previous system.” The upgrades mean that footage from more than 7,400 cameras across the train network will be kept for longer to support investigations. Trespassing also has ramifications on Metro’s ability to deliver a reliable and punctual service, and this CCTV upgrade is one way to ensure Melburnians can get where they need to go when they need to go there. In March, Metro ran 93.1 per cent of trains on time – above the 92 per cent target – while 98.5 per cent of scheduled services were delivered, meeting the 98.5 per cent target. Minister for Public Transport Ben Carroll says, “By having an integrated system, Metro, police and other authorities have faster, more reliable access to security footage. “These upgrades are just another way we’re improving the safety and reliability of our public transport network – minimising disruptions and improving the passenger experience. “As our city continues to grow, we’re investing in the latest technology to get people where they need to go as quickly and as safely as possible.” The transformational upgrades involved the installation of new servers and hard drives weighing more than five tonnes, which have been installed at multiple secure locations on the network. This gives Metro and emergency services centralised access to security footage where and when they need it. Metro has a network of more than 9,000 CCTV cameras – including at stations and inside trains. The operator works closely with Victoria Police and other authorities to ensure rail workers, passengers, assets and infrastructure are protected from crime.

Record graffiti removal on the Metro network

6 Apr 2021, James Ireland
In 2020, Metro removed a staggering 276,375m² of graffiti from Melbourne’s rail network – the equivalent of 14 MCG ovals. A quieter period allowed Metro crews to clean more graffiti from the rail corridor than ever before. Metro CEO Raymond O’Flaherty says, “Graffiti has absolutely no place on the rail network, and thanks to our new removal program, we’re seeing major success in our efforts to keep the network clean. “This is all about improving the experience for passengers, particularly as more Melburnians return to public transport.” Metro deploys cleaners to known graffiti hotspots at least five nights a week to clear unsightly tags from our network. On average, around 26 cleaners are out across the network every day – while Metro spends around $10 million clearing graffiti and vandalism from the network every year. Under a new corridor-based cleaning program, Metro works on every train line, every month. The program has already seen a massive uplift in graffiti removal – from an average of 560m² per month to an average of 23,031m² per month in 2020 – a 4,012 per cent increase. Metro’s dedicated Network Security and Surveillance team works in partnership with Victoria Police to patrol known hotspots to stop vandals in the act. When vandals are prosecuted Metro seeks costs for the clean-up bill through the courts. Anyone who witnesses or has information on a crime, such as vandalism, is urged to call Triple Zero or contact Crime Stoppers immediately.

Contributing to a better Melbourne

12 Mar 2021, James Ireland
Metro Trains has released its latest Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Report, outlining key initiatives to support a more sustainable Melbourne. Underpinning the report are programs of work that are contributing to social responsibility, environment sustainability and economic prosperity. Amparo Hassan, the Flinders Street Station staff member who is the face of the report, joined Metro colleagues for a special launch event. The Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Report 2019/20 details how Metro adapted to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic by continuing to operate a full timetable to keep essential workers moving. A comprehensive train and station cleaning program also ensured passengers and employees were kept safe on their journey. Other initiatives outlined in the report include: Investigating and implementing ways to improve energy efficiency, and partnering with the Department of Transport on emissions reduction and climate change adaptation initiatives. A Biodiversity Management Program to protect ecological values at more than 30 sites of ecological significance. Supporting engineering cadets into jobs as part of the Engineering Pathways Cadetship Program. The development of a Social Inclusion and Aboriginal Employment Strategy; and The Metro Cares Community Grants program, supporting local organisations and charities that foster community connection. Metro’s CEO Raymond O’Flaherty says, “We’re incredibly proud of the innovation drive we’re seeing across our business to ensure we play our part in the sustainability of public transport in Melbourne. “Our teams are doing great work to drive down our water and energy use, adapt to the challenges of climate change, and preserve and protect natural environments that are touched by our rail network. “Metro has an important responsibility and genuine opportunity to contribute to a more liveable, inclusive and sustainable city.” You can access Metro’s Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Report 2019/20 here.

Stopping trespassers in their tracks

10 Mar 2021, James Ireland
As more Melburnians return to public transport a joint operation between Metro Trains and Victoria Police is cracking down on illegal, dangerous and disruptive trespassing. The operation throughout March aims to catch trespassers in the act, educate people about safe behaviours on the railway, and keep services running reliably for those who depend on them. Authorised Officers from Metro’s Network Security and Surveillance team and the Victoria Police Transit Division will focus their efforts on key trespassing hotspots in the city’s west, east and north including Werribee to Hoppers Crossing; Yarraville; Bayswater to Boronia; and Craigieburn to Coolaroo.

Journey info a the tip of your fingers

19 Feb 2021, James Ireland
New smartphone technology lets you make informed choices about how and when you travel on Melbourne’s trains. After months of extensive testing and trials, the new online tool called RideSpace provides real-time information for passengers on Metro’s trains – showing how busy, or quiet, the train journey will be before boarding. RideSpace is now available via a dedicated website – and its capacity data will soon be made available in third party journey planning apps to help passengers make informed choices about travelling safely on the network. The tool shows the current and predicted level of busyness for trains, stations and platforms to support public health settings and help passengers decide which service they are comfortable using. RideSpace was launched alongside the new train timetable, which provides 280 more services each week around Melbourne. Until the end of April a 30 per cent fare discount is available for Metro passengers travelling outside of peak periods. The off-peak discount will be automatically applied to myki fares for passengers touching off between 9.30am and 4pm or after 7pm on weekdays.