Upside down wheelchairs at Melbourne stations

Melbourne’s trains haven’t always been the most accessible for wheelchair and scooter users, but Metro Trains has made some recent changes – some of which seem a little odd.

Train driver assists a scooter user board the train via the portable ramp

Public Transport Victoria has this to say on their website:

The driver will help you board the train by placing a ramp between the platform and the first door of the front carriage.

Customers who need help boarding trains should wait on the platform near the front of the train.

When you reach your destination station, the driver will use a ramp to help you off the train.

At most stations there is a wheelchair waiting area at the end of the platform for that express purpose.

Wheelchair waiting area and rubber platform gap filling strips at the down end of Mitcham platform 2

In addition, at a number of stations the relevant section of the platform has been raised.

Wheelchair ramp added to the Parliament end of Melbourne Central platform 3

This provides ramp free access to the train.

Ramp free access for wheelchairs at the east end of Flinders Street platform 1

A more recent change is adding directional signage at station entrances, directing wheelchair users to the end of the platform.

Backwards facing directions to the wheelchair waiting area of the platform at Seddon

Unfortunately the people doing the work were given dodgy instruction – the signs face a wheelchair passenger that has fallen onto the tracks!

'No bikes in first carriage door' notice at the end of the platform

Thankfully someone in charge noticed, as more recent additions now face in the correct direction.

'Wheelchairs here / no bikes first carriage door' sign at West Footscray station


Note the addition of the ‘no bikes in first carriage door’ signs – it has been a rule for many years, but the only way passengers would know about it was if they went digging on the PTV website:

Bikes can be carried free on metropolitan trains.

You cannot board at the first door of the first carriage, as this is a priority area for mobility impaired passengers.

Make sure you keep passageways and doorways clear and try to avoid busy carriages when travelling with your bike.

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19 Responses to “Upside down wheelchairs at Melbourne stations”

  1. Beren Scott says:

    Bikes should not be allowed on the train fullstop, they are left in the doorway area, and block passengers all the time, the rider generally leaves the thing tucked on the carriage frame, and goes and sits down, and the things fall over all the time. There is no suitable places on trains for bikes, maybe if someone had been intelligent and perhaps provided roof hanging clips, maybe, but honestly, a bike literally takes up 4 people spots, and then bottlenecks the carriage, falls over onto people, possibly children too. I say enough with the bikes, maybe consign bikes to carriage 3 and 4 at the middle section, and then actually give them some hooks to hang them, some method of getting them the hell out of the way. Besides, the irony of taking a bike on the train, where’s the dedication? A true rider needs no trains. We don’t allow bikes on buses, why trains?

    • Julian Calaby says:

      Clearly I must be a much more responsible bike rider than average.

      On suburban trains, I stand with my bike, (or sit within touching distance of it) move it for everyone who might be blocked by it, use an end door where possible (blocks less people) and try to keep it tucked into the doorway on the opposite side of the train from the platform, moving it where appropriate. I thought everyone did that =)

      I take my bike on suburban trains because I’m either not fit enough or lack the time to ride the same distance.

      As for country trains, they have a dedicated spot and the conductors (in my experience) will help you stow your bike appropriately.

      • Marcus Wong says:

        “I take my bike on suburban trains because I’m either not fit enough or lack the time to ride the same distance.”

        A common scenario is when both your origin and destination are a long way from a railway station. If you are a regular commuter, owning two bikes and parking one at each end might work, provided that secure bike parking facilities are available at both stations.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      Over in San Francisco, their Caltrain system offers dedicated bike carriages:

      With the decentralised office parks the fill Silicon Valley, the bike and train combo is the only workable form of public transport.

  2. David Stosser says:

    The obvious thought is that all seats could be removed from the area behind the driver’s cabin. Then the section at the front could be allocated to wheelchairs and prams; the middle two, while they still exist, could be for more passengers, and the rear for bikes.

    I’ve found the best way to stow my bike is with the front wheel in the handrail for a southside Comeng, and it’s usually possible to wedge it alongside the door of a Siemens with one tyre behind the the wheelchair ramp box – dependent on knowing which side the next platform will be, and moving when necessary. Northside Comeng and Xtrapolis are harder, and I’d guess that fewer cyclists use the former Hillside network because of the local terrain, so back in 2000ish there wasn’t as much of a need to provide space. Usually the best option on a northside Comeng is to sit opposite one of the long folding seats and rest the bike against that, and similar for an Xtrapolis.

    Saying that “a true rider needs no trains” is like saying “a true walker needs no car”.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      I like the “a true walker needs no car” line. 🙂

    • Tom the first and best. says:

      Hand rails are not for bike wheels. They are for hands. Bike wheels get all kinds of dirt on them.

    • Beren Scott says:

      the major issue with our trains is that only 50 – 75% of the seats are ever in use, then the only standing room is the door area, and then when seats are abandoned, nobody from door area bothers to sit in them. realisticly, should just run the seats down the wall with standing room in the middle. maybe make two out of six carriages like this. another issue is two doors instead of three per carriage. should have massive doors as well. also overuse of air conditioning, the trains are freezing and its a waste of electricity.

      • Marcus Wong says:

        On Sydney’s rail network the air conditioning is even more wasteful – their train doors are not passenger operated, so they stay open the entire time that the train sits at the terminus, blowing cold / warm air out into the open.

  3. Beren Scott says:

    Another thing, they put the disabled paint the wrong way. You do know the average person can read upsidedown? But, another issue with trains, is that technically only a set number of wheelchairs are allowed per train, and once exceeded, said passengers are forced to wait for next train. Not joking, my ex used to take a bunch of wheelchair bound passengers to the city for her job, and it would be a large group and on average, they would miss one maybe two trains based on this rule alone, and the number is well below what that area can handle. But, this policy goes against the law on equal access for the disabled, because essentially the train has 4 areas like this for disabled, and the driver could put people on board at the other 3.

    • Tom the first and best. says:

      It would be quite time consuming to get wheelchairs and drivers to other sections of the train because they would have to walk along the train. If we still had guards then they could let wheelchair users use more of the train.

      The ability to use more than one wheel chair section would be one of the reasons why Brisbane guards are in the middle of the trains where they have easy access to 2 wheelchair areas.

      Putting the level boarding sections in at as many stations as possible (I believe they don`t work at curved platforms) would allow faster wheelchair boarding and they could be put at both ends of the trains, and possibly even in the middle, to allow wheelchairs to board at multiple points on the train (unless they were going to a platform without the requisite ramp).

      • Beren Scott says:

        The disabled have equal rights to public spaces including trains. saying that only x number of wheelchair bound passengers can ride the train due to them being only allowed to ride at the front door area of a 6 carriage train is not equal access. i think it is ironic, we get rid of guards and manned stations, so fare evasion goes up, we then fix that by employing brutes on trains, rent a cops at stations, police state boxes at every station. what about if you just manned all the stations again? no more brutes, rent a cops, police internment boxes, can you see where i am going? someone who assists patrons, helps them, informs them. the fare evasion thing only exists because the stations arent manned. we got to this place because of that. slowly over time. cheaper not employing staff, but the end result being this thugery.

      • Marcus Wong says:

        The deployment of level boarding sections along the Frankston line have caused an unexpected problem – some platforms see trains in both directions, so the ramp also lines up with the *rear* door of trains.

        This means wheelchair passengers can roll aboard the last carriage without assistance, but run into difficulties if there isn’t a ramp at their destination, as the train driver is still at the front of the train.

        A similar situation applies to low floor trams and platform stops, but without the fallback of the driver having a manual ramp to deploy.

        • Tom the first and best. says:

          Have their been many cases of wheelchair users getting stuck like that?

          I have seem low floor trams in Melbourne with fold up ramps stashed in near the seats.

          • Marcus Wong says:

            I don’t have exact numbers as to the number of Frankston line wheelchair passengers getting stuck – just third hand stories from train drivers.

            In the case of low floor trams, they do have ramps, but I believe they are for emergency use only.

  4. DavID Payne says:

    I guess Marcus’s comment about Frankston line explains what I was going to ask, if they can make part of a platform level with the train floor why not all of the platform?

    I guess until all platforms were like that there would be such problems but the authority relys on signs and rules to deal with other problems (often unsuccessfully). Meanwhile some platforms eg Strathmore still have huge gaps to the train, is that related to the curvature of some platforms but never the carriage?

    • Marcus Wong says:

      I’m guessing cost is the main reason – instead of just a plain steel or concrete edge, rubber gap filling sections need to be accurately fitted to the platform.

      In addition, the platform height needs to be accurately positioned in relation to the top of the rail, which given our poorly maintained track is also an extra expense.

      • Beren says:

        Further to the above, the reason you only want wheelchairs getting on at one door on the front carriage is, you can’t get the driver to walk all the way down to assist you getting off at every possible station. Therefore if you did make the entire platform like this, then you’d have to do this at every station in Melbourne, and the loop stations are perfectly straight. Honestly, I would settle for some damn seats in Melbourne Central. Platforms 1 and 2 literally have no seats, and 3 and 4 only have a few under where there is no express escalators taking up the space. It’s terrible, they have these stupid side wall things, and two of my children almost ruined their legs attempting to climb into them, getting caught in weird positions. Bad idea. Trams with this design are terrible, no protection from stop and start acceleration. They really need rollercoaster seats in them. And one tram design has literally only 1 seat either side and no standing room, you’d think we could piss the seats off as there is only 8 seats in an entire carriage, and people could sit on the side wall.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      Strathmore station sounds like a ‘legacy’ platform that has never been brought up to modern standards.

      A 'thoroughly clean' Siemens train arrives into Strathmore station to pick up Premier John Brumby and Public Transport Minister Martin Pakula

      Heyington station used to have a similarly large gap, until Metro upgraded the platforms following a fatality in 2014:

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