Footscray’s useless next train displays

The newly expanded Footscray station – last week I dissected the new but misleading next train displays on the V/Line platforms, but now I’ll look at a bigger problem – the useless next train displays on the main concourses.

Six platforms at Footscray station, yet passengers are only told the next four trains!

The problem – Footscray station now has six platforms, yet passengers are only told the next four trains!

How many different destinations could a passenger at Footscray station be intending to travel to? Let us take a trip around Victoria from south-west to north, from the suburbs of Melbourne all the way to the Murray River, and look at all of the rail services that pass through…

  • Williamstown
  • Altona
  • Werribee
  • Geelong/Marshall
  • Warrnambool
  • Watergardens/Sunbury
  • Bacchus Marsh
  • Ballarat
  • Ararat
  • Maryborough
  • Bendigo
  • Swan Hill
  • Echuca

That is 13 different destinations headed away from the city, and we can add two more citybound ones to the list:

  • Flinders Street via Southern Cross
  • Flinders Street via City Loop

So what kind of information should passengers at Footscray receive?

Southern Cross has a massive next train display, displaying suburban trains on a per line basis and the country trains ordered by departure time.

Spare screen on the PIDS turned over to yoghurt advertising

Flinders Street Station has a dozen platforms, with a large display displaying the next two departures on every route. Unfortunately it is ordered by the name of each ‘parent’ line, which makes things confusing when a short working service is the next one to depart – such as a Broadmeadows train on the Craigieburn line.

PIDs at Flinders Street Station

Richmond station has ten platforms, and LCD next train displays scattered around the station displaying the next departure for every line, as well as a next few departures for the city.

New LCD next train displays above the centre subway at Richmond

South Yarra station has six platforms but only has a LED display installed, but at least the number of the visible departures matches the number of platforms, which suffices for the half-dozen different routes possible for a passenger headed away from the city.

(also note the newly installed TramTracker LCD screen alongside for the route 8 tram along Toorak Road – Footscray could do with the same for the connecting route 82 service)

New TramTracker LCD screen installed at South Yarra, beside the LED next train display

And finally, North Melbourne. It has six platforms and an array of LCD next train displays visible from different locations, displaying the next two departures for each line passing through.

New LCD next train displays

North Melbourne also has a number of dedicated screens to display V/Line departures – now useless since Regional Rail Link altered all Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo services to bypass the station!

Empty V/Line services board at North Melbourne, now that Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo services all bypass the station!

So back to Footscray…

At a minimum at Footscray a passenger should receive the same level of information they used to get at North Melbourne – the next two departures on each suburban line, the next few departure times for the City Loop and Flinders Street direct services, and a list of the next half-dozen V/Line services to pass through.

Displaying the next departure for each possible route through Footscray might be nice, but I’m guessing that knowing the next Echuca service is eight hours away won’t be of much use to passengers!

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4 Responses to “Footscray’s useless next train displays”

  1. Chris Gordon says:

    V/Line will be rolling out a real time passenger information system over the RFR lines and including RRL in the near future. Currently all the V/Line pids run on timetabled times and when often the PIDs clear prior to the train coming.

    The main problem at Footscray is there are two different systems for Metro and V/Line and they need to be integrated, lets hope they don’t just add V/Line pids to the concourse.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      I’ve noticed that issues with the current V/Line PIDS before – you’ll be waiting at North Geelong station for the next train, the departure goes by, and then the details of the train disappear, leaving you in the dark!

      Given all how difficult it seems to be for Metro and V/Line to cooperate on anything, I wouldn’t be surprised if Footscray station ended up with parallel next train display systems, split by operator.

  2. Anthony says:

    I don’t see this as such a big deal. Once RRL is fully operational all outbound metro trains to Newport and Sunbury will leave from platforms 6 and 2 respectively and all outbound VLine trains will leave from platform 4. Inbound metro customers will want to know which of platforms 1 or 5 has the next train into town but as service patterns are standardised, platform 5 will always go to Southern Cross and platform 1 will always got to Flagstaff.
    The new network map is going to be the vanguard for a range of measures using the new designated line colours to simplify customer expectations and direct then to appropriate services. In the short term there may be some confusion but long term I don’t think this is going to matter too much.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      Simplifying the network will help things a little – even today operations are consistent enough that passengers for most destinations know they can just turn up to platform ‘X’ at Footscray and find a train which headed their way.

      The problems occur when service frequencies are poor – if you know your train is still 15 minutes away, behind three other services, you can use the time to go to the toilet, top up your myki, or grab an Olympic Doughnut from the kiosk!

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