Drinking water at Melbourne railway stations

Summer has started, so Metro Trains have started to remind passengers to keep hydrated.

But one problem – nowhere to get a drink.

If you’re happy to drop a fiver for a plastic bottle of water, you’re in luck.

Vending machines are everywhere.

Coca Cola branded drink and snack vending machines

Even at stations without staff.

Coke vending machine at Ascot Vale station

And for a period – tram stops in the CBD!

Coke vending machine installed at the Bourke and Spencer Street tram stop

With vending machine operators raking in the cash.

Red Engine Group electric buggy refilling the vending machines at Southern Cross Station

But it wasn’t always this way – drinking fountains could once be found on station platforms, like this one still at Caulfield.

Drinking fountain at Caulfield platform 1

If you’re a dog, then Metro Trains has you covered on the hydration front.

Rubbish bin, dog poo bags and a dog drinking fountain at Footscray station

Drinking fountains having been provided at Footscray, Parliament, Caulfield, Showgrounds and Flemington Racecourse as part of new ‘Assistance Animal Relief Areas‘.

'Assistance animal relief area' at Footscray station

But the recent Mernda rail extension is a hopeful sign – each new station on the line has a drinking fountain on the platform.

Drinking fountain on the platform at Mernda station

As have some recently rebuilt stations, like Frankston.

One of two drinking fountains on the platform at Frankston station

And Reservoir.

Meanwhile with V/Line

Country trains have had water fountains onboard for decades, and V/Line continues the tradition today.

Drink fountain and emergency telephone / intercom

Originally VLocity trains were delivered without them (dead link) but after some bad publicity, they were retrofitted.

Meanwhile on the Gold Coast

The Gold Coast light rail system is flashy and new.

Flexity #15 arrives at the Broadbeach South terminus

And it has drinking fountains at each light rail stop.

Drinking fountain at a light rail stop

Just the thing for a trip back from the beach.

And in the ‘Old Country’

Australian railway operators are stacked with managers imported from the United Kingdom – pity they didn’t bring Network Rail’s enthusiasm for water bottle refilling points over with them.

March 2021 update

Now City West Water and Metro Trains have gotten together, and installed ‘Be Smart. Choose Tap’ water fountains at railway stations, including Sunshine.

'Be Smart. Choose Tap' water fountain at Sunshine station

Further reading

City of Melbourne drinking fountain map – south-east corner of Spencer and Collins Street is the closet one to Southern Cross Station.

In 2016 VicHealth published Provision of drinking water fountains in public areas – a local government action guide.

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15 Responses to “Drinking water at Melbourne railway stations”

  1. Tramologist says:

    No first aid at SCS?

  2. albert3801 says:

    That’s interesting. No Sydney station has drinking fountains. They were also removed from all long distance trains a few years ago amidst fears that the water was often contaminated. Most drinking fountains were also removed from public locations and parks amidst fears of contamination and law suits. Similarly they were removed from schools. An extremely limited number of new drinking fountains have appeared in tourist areas but none on any railway property. I’m always fascinated how different states view things.

    • Tramologist says:

      It seems that my wife & I were lucky to have got some drinking water at the beginning of the RNP trail near Bundeena.
      15 years ago when I travelled on the Melbourne to Sydney XPT I was astonished to find that the buffet car sold hot water for 60 cents per cup. Providing complimentary hot water is probably the most common courtesy at most venues in China, including bank branches, mobile phone offices, long distance trains and stations, airports. Metro stations also have them although not always in publically accessible areas, but staff are happy to get you some.

    • Smeagol Cheesecake says:

      Sutherland and Waterfall stations, south of Sydney, certainly have drinking fountains.

  3. Tom Jenkins says:

    They might avoid them due to coronavirus now. Any ploy to get your to buy some plastic you’ll discard 5 mins later.

  4. Yakston minor says:

    Marcus! Your blog made it into my google news feed – that’s the big time.

  5. Alan says:

    Southern Cross coach terminal is the worst for this. Something about the air in there always makes me thirsty, and it seems that I’m not the only one – there is at least one vending machine there which is filled exclusively with Mount Franklin bottled water. Not a drinking fountain in sight.

    Luckily there is a City of Melbourne drinking fountain on Lonsdale St just across Spencer St. It’s easy to nip out the top end of the coach terminal for a drink while you wait if you know where to go.

  6. Joe Stosser says:

    We lobbied hard (PTV Case#2019/281354) to get at least one water fountain included in the ‘floorplan’ for every new Train Station build. This has now been achieved.

    Case No: 2019/281354 also requested that:
    1. ‘Choose Tap’ app info and links be added to the relevant PTV and Metro websites that discuss hot-weather hydration, and
    2. Call Centre and Station staff also be made aware of the app so they can advise commuters.
    The app is endorsed by the Victorian State Government – https://www.vic.gov.au/mobile-apps-list

    3. MTM consider adding “Drinking Water ->” directional signs to stations where the location of the closest hydration point is not clear.
    I also reminded them that the tap/basin designs in the new stations do not allow enough clearance to refill a water bottle, so separate hydration points are necessary.

    Separately, I have asked South East Water to explain why they are not a ChooseTap Partner when so many other water utilities in Melbourne & Victoria are already on board.
    Their participation would significantly add to the number of public hydration points in the app for the South Eastern suburbs.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      The need for Melbourne to have three separate government owned water retailers is a whole other question – another thing we can thank Jeff Kennett for!

      https://www.afr.com/politics/user-pays-in-kennetts-1-3bn-water-reform-19971010-k7q8t

      • Joe Stosser says:

        I need to update my previous post.. stuff I’ve learned in the past few days..

        1. South East Water is now a Choose Tap partner.

        2. The Choose Tap mobile phone app is discontinued, even tho it’s still listed on the Vic Govt website I mentioned earlier. I’ve escalated to Yarra Water to rectify as they are owners of Choose Tap.

        3. Choose Tap service is now website-only and quite comprehensive.
        Worth bookmarking this free service on your mobile device: https://choosetap.com.au/tap-finder

        Hope this info is useful.

        • albert3801 says:

          The app is in dire need of updating to support the screen resolution of iPhone X, 11 and 12 and I assume that’s why it’s been taken down until such tie as it can be updated.

          The website it terrible for use on a mobile phone – very poor contrast and the map is extremely fiddly to navigate.

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