V/Line stations trumps Metro for passenger information

I visited Wyndham Vale station recently, and was pleasantly surprised by the amount of next train information made available to passengers.

VLocity 3VL47 and classmate lead an up service into Wyndham Vale

On arriving in the waiting room I found a summary board listing the next three departures in each direction.

Summary board listing the next three departures in each direction from Wyndham Vale

When walking along the footbridge towards the platforms, each platform had the next three departures listed, including stopping patterns.

PIDS displaying the next three departures for each platform at Wyndham Vale

While down on the platform, the stopping pattern of the next train was again displayed, as well as the following three trains.

Platform full of passengers at Wyndham Vale wait for a citybound Geelong service to stop

Now compare Wyndham Vale with your average station on the “suburban” network – lucky stations get a single LED matrix display per platform that displays the time until the next train, with the stopping pattern scrolling along the bottom line.

Next train display at Burnley station platform 3

While everybody else gets stuck with the hopeless “talking bricks”.

Timetable information / emergency assistance intercom on the suburban platforms

V/Line might be in denial about their status as a suburban rail operator, but whoever specified their new real time train information system knew what they were doing.


On second thoughts, the main reason that V/Line’s new passenger information screens are “good” is because the systems in suburban Melbourne are so woefully inadequate. Over at V/Line the hardware itself looks fine, as is the information provided to passengers, but the layout and display of the data could be much improved – larger fonts and the use of colour would make a world of difference.

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7 Responses to “V/Line stations trumps Metro for passenger information”

  1. Somebody says:

    V/Line’s screens might look nice but they’re hopeless when there are service disruptions (which we all know are common!).

    I’ve been caught out before when my train displayed as arriving in 1 minute never showed up before the screen defaulted to “there are no services within the next hour”, before a check of V/Line’s website on my phone showed that the service had been canceled!

    Presumably the system runs off timetable data if a train can’t be located on the system, but since then I’ve also noticed that even with the current planned cancellations, the most useful information their PIDs will provide is “there are no services within the next hour” if you turn up for one of those trains!

    • Marcus Wong says:

      I haven’t been down at Geelong since the new screens were turned on, but with the new 20 minute inter-peak service V/Line has a habit of cancelling trains a few minutes before departure time, then telling passengers to wait for the train in 20 minutes time.

  2. Alan says:

    As “Somebody” says, the V/Line screens do leave a little bit to be desired in terms of the accuracy of the countdown timer. It doesn’t help that they’re up against the suburban PRIDE system, which, in spite of its age, is surprisingly reliable. The only flaw I have ever been able to find in that system is its tendency to overestimate the arrival times of V/Line services on suburban tracks. And it does tend to get a bit confused at complex junctions like Newport. Other than that, you can almost bet your life on it.

    I contacted V/Line some time ago to ask them to increase the size of the estimated arrival time (e.g. “3 min”). When you’re standing out on Footscray platform 4, it’s often easier to read the Metro screens over on platform 1 than it is to read the V/Line screens on your own platform! Unfortunately they haven’t done anything.

    They really need to install one of those “summary” screens at Geelong station! Melbourne-bound services depart from platform 3 on weekdays after about 9am, and you can’t see the departure information until you go over the footbridge.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      On a cold and windy day walking up and over to platform 3 just to find out what time the next train to Melbourne departs would suck, given the waiting room is on the other side.

  3. Lynda says:

    Wow! 🙂
    Harsh feedback Alan and Somebody lol!
    ………..But I happen to know an engineer who had something to do with those V/Line screens and I’m pretty sure V/Line didnt pass your feedback on to him. He’s snoring next to me right now, but I’m going to ‘copy and paste’ your exact words and make sure he has them front and centre on his “screens” the moment he wakes up!!!
    (…..also……I know how long and how hard he’s hard to work to get those screens to work AT ALL given what the VIC State Government will PAY to get this sort of work done! And what they will PAY to keep it updated / maintained. And how much we are all prepared to PAY in the form of our taxes to have “modern” services that perform as they should, I mean the damned things should have holograms by now, right? :-)…….)
    But yes…..your feedback is going direct to the “source” this lovely Thursday morning!

    • Alan says:

      Don’t get me wrong, I think the new V/Line screens are great, and most certainly a vast improvement on what we had before! I’m just fussy, is all 🙂

  4. Lynda says:

    “V/Line might be in denial about their status as a suburban rail operator, but whoever specified their new real time train information system knew what they were doing”

    Thanks Marcus Wong – he doesn’t need his ego inflated any further and I believe he would say he “engineered a solution” rather than “specified” the real time information system, but I’ll make sure I tell him what you said….. 🙂

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