Tracking the Protective Services Officers rollout

Since 2012 the Victorian Liberal Government has been deploying Protective Services Officers to railway stations across the Melbourne suburban network, and as of this week we have a total of 682 PSOs patrolling 104 Melbourne railway stations – or so says the self congratulatory media release.

With 207 stations to be guarded between 6pm and last train each night, a total of 940 officers have to be recruited and trained to meet the target date of November 2014 – so how is the program actually tracking?

Three PSOs and a police officer on the beat at Southern Cross Station


The idea of Protective Services Officers at railway stations was first proposed by then-opposition leader Ted Baillieu in November 2009, as part of a pledge made in the leadup to the 2010 Victorian State Election.

Originally costed at $200 million over four years, by 2011 the cost of the program had increased to $212 million, as well as an additional $85 million to provide upgraded facilities at each railway station to house the deployed PSOs – $18 million in the 2012/13 State Budget, and $67.8 million for 149 station refits in the 2013/14 State Budget.

Another money pit for the program is advertising – in January 2013 a three month long marketing campaign costing $2.7 million was launched to help recruit additional PSOs, which followed $2.67 million spent on advertising in 2012, as well as $1 million in fees paid to recruiters.

The advertising

So what did over $5 million worth of marketing get us?

Television commercials that make catching a train look more dangerous than it actually is:

Advertisements in the newspaper:

Protective Services Officer recruitment advertisement in the mX newspaper

Billboards beside freeways:

Protective Services Officer recruitment billboard beside the Eastlink freeway

Posters onboard trains:

Protective Services Officer recruitment poster onboard a Comeng train

And trams:

Protective Services Officer recruitment poster onboard a tram

And even recruitment booths outside railway stations during the evening peak:

Two men running a Protective Services Officer recruitment drive outside Newmarket station during the evening peak

How is the rollout tracking?

Melbourne’s first group of Protective Services Officers were deployed on February 22, 2012 to Flinders Street and Southern Cross stations, with other stations on the network following.

I’ve been tracking the rollout across Melbourne with a spreadsheet – the government usually issues a media release each time PSOs are deployed to a new station, mentioning the current number of officers across the network, as well as the number of stations covered.

The result is this graph showing the number of Melbourne suburban railway stations that have PSOs deployed to them. Note the 207 stations to be covered by the target date of November 2014:

A second graph shows the current number of PSOs deployed across the network – again note the target of 940 officers and the upcoming November 2014 deadline.

Looks like Denis Napthine’s Liberal Government are going to have throw some big money at the program if they want to meet their November 2014 targets!

Raw data

Here is the raw data in Google Spreadsheet format – inside you will find the date that PSOs were deployed to each station, the number of active PSOs across the network on that date, and the original source of the data.

More sources

February 2016 update

On 24 February 2016 the Victorian Auditor-General’s released their report Public Safety on Victoria’s Train System – with Appendix A featuring a list of PSO deployment dates – the first 177 stations up until June 2015.

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13 Responses to “Tracking the Protective Services Officers rollout”

  1. Kane says:

    In regards to the Spreadsheet, Dandenong has a Baillieu Box on Platform 3.

  2. Julian Calaby says:

    On the subject of PSOs: I was driving during peak traffic eastbound along Flinders Street past Flinders Street Station and saw an unmarked grey people mover ahead of me behaving erratically: hazards on, pulling into the tram lane, then performing a u-turn.

    It then stopped in a bus zone, the driver seemed to realise that this was a bad idea, so they reversed as far as they could to the rear of the bus zone (there was _no_ parking and even if the park behind the bus zone was free, it was a disabled zone.) so they ended up practically blocking the car behind them, still in the bus zone, at which point it disgorged three or four PSOs who collected their equipment from the rear then, I assume, walked off into the station.

    Why not spend money on proper vehicles for them and somewhere for them to park? IIRC there’s some private parking at the west end of platform 1. Why couldn’t they park there and not block buses?

    • Marcus Wong says:

      The PSO appear to be using a mix of HiAce vans and Korean-built people movers to get to and from their workplaces – even at railway stations where only a pair of PSOs are on the beat.

  3. scott says:

    I find it amusing that a fortune was spent installing toilets at train stations for PSO use yet the general public are not allowed to use them!

  4. Alex says:

    To follow on from Kane’s post, some of the stations and the office type missing in the spreadsheet:
    Coolaroo – on platform 2 in the station building
    Jacana – in the station building, no entry door on platform 1
    Glenroy – Baillieu Box on platform 1 next to the station building
    Strathmore – Baillieu Box on platform 1 behind the waiting area
    Gowrie – Baillieu Box on the island platform next to the station building
    Merlynston – Baillieu Box on the island platform next to the station building
    South Morang – incorporated into the concourse building
    Epping – incorporated into the concourse building
    Thomastown – Baillieu Box on platform 2 near the South Morang end
    Regent – Baillieu Box on platform 1 next to the station building
    Preston – Baillieu Box at the entrance to platform 1, where the former goods dock was
    Bell – in the station building on platform 1
    Croxton – in the station building on platform 1
    Clifton Hill – Baillieu Box, weatherboard structure on platform 2, next to the station building
    North Richmond – in the station building on platform 2
    Jolimont – next to the station building, weatherboard type

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  6. derek says:

    just got off a train at seddon 9.15pm.pso (x3)didnt even show their faces.waste of money if they dont do their job

    • Marcus Wong says:

      Sometimes you can’t see the PSOs from the train is because they are moving between platforms – to get from one side to the other at some stations requires extremely convoluted routes. They are also supposed to patrol the car parks and bus interchanges around the station.

      Back in the early days of the rollout, my train driver mate would occasionally see PSOs who hid in their ‘office’ until the train pulled into to the platform, stand in the doorway while the passengers walked past, and then duck back into inside once they walked past. That seems to be less of an issue these days.

      It does raise the question around the usefulness of the PSO deployment – two PSOs wandering around randomly at every railway station won’t be effective as a smaller team of police roaming the network based on known trouble spots.

  7. […] a slow start, the Protective Services Officer rollout on the rail network started to accelerate in mid-2012, with Channel 9 using this interesting […]

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