Rail staff left out in the cold

It’s coming into a cold Melbourne winter, so it means one thing – railway station staff left out in the cold, waiting to assist any passengers unable to pass through the closed ticket gates.

Passengers with paper tickets waiting to exit the platform, as the sole V/Line staff member on the ground having to assist other passengers with directions

Freezing at Southern Cross Station

It isn’t just the diesel fumes at Southern Cross Station causing issues – back in 2017 staff left in the bitter cold got a run in the Herald Sun.

Rail staff complain of the bitter cold
5 July 2017

Freezing ticket inspectors at Southern Cross Station have complained that they’re too cold to work with newly installed heaters not working.

Both Metro Trains and V/Line have provided shelters for their barrier staff but only V/Line has provided heaters.

However, the overhead heaters have providing little respite to shivering staff as they are yet to be connected to power.

Metro Trains says it is planning a new “employee shelter” at the Etihad Stadium end of the station and is “prepared to explore the installation of heating” as an additional measure.

One V/Line staff member, who asked to remain anonymous, said staff were freezing on the Bourke St footbridge.

“It was so cold this morning that I literally could not feel my hands,” he said.

“It’s like a wind tunnel up here.

“As you can see we’ve been given heaters but we are unable to plug them in as there is no power.”

Rail, Tram and Bus Union branch secretary Luba Grigorovitch said she visited the station and it was “freezing”.

“The Bourke Street airwalk is extraordinarily cold, especially when it is windy,” she said.

“This is not something new and both companies should be prepared ahead of the season change.

“Metro has made their staff feel like the poor cousins to V/Line as they are yet to even commit to installing a heater.

“This is absurd given the barrier staff for both operators stand in the same position, just metres apart.”

V/Line spokeswoman Catalina Filip said the heater in the Myki barrier booth was installed about a fortnight ago.

She said V/Line was working with Southern Cross Station maintenance providers to install a power point and connect the heater to electricity.

“We’ve listened to our employees and have installed heaters in the myki barrier booth at Southern Cross Station to keep staff warm during the colder months,” she said.

“The comfort of our team members is a priority and we’re always looking at ways to create a more comfortable workplace for our staff.”

Metro spokeswoman Sammie Black said all its station staff were provided with gloves, scarfs, beanies and a range of winter jackets.

“We are currently commissioning a replacement employee shelter at the Etihad Stadium end of Southern Cross Station and exploring the installation of heating in this shelter as an additional measure,” she said.

The V/Line shelter on the Bourke Street footbridge is a glass cabin.

V/Line barrier staff member shelters from the cold wind on the Bourke Street bridge

With an electric panel heater inside.

Heated booth on the Bourke Street concourse to shelter barrier staff from the cold

Metro staff have a warm booking office to sell tickets from.

Long line of passengers waiting for tickets at the Bourke Street booking office at Southern Cross

But staff on the ticket gates next door are still left to huddle in a glass cabin.

Main gate array for the Bourke Street end of Southern Cross Station: seven normal and one wide gate

Down on the main concourse at Southern Cross the big roof theoretically provides shelter, but the freezing wind still cuts through – so V/Line staff have a heater behind their customer service desk.

V/Line's new customer service desk at the Southern Cross Station ticket gates

But it doesn’t have to be

With good station design, there is no need for station staff to be left out in the cold – just place the ticket barriers beside the station office.

The brand new Reservoir station is one example.

Ticket gates and ticket office at Reservoir station

Bayswater is another.

Myki gates at the entrance to the new Bayswater station

Williams Landing.

Bank of five Myki gates at Williams Landing

And even older stations like Melbourne Central.

Booking office at Melbourne Central, now reopened

And Flagstaff.

Booking office at Flagstaff station closed for the removal of Metcard equipment

So close, yet so far

Yet despite so many Melbourne examples that place staff beside the ticket gates, some stations neglect it entirely.

Ringwood platform 3 put the gates opposite the ticket office.

Myki gates at the entrance to Ringwood platform 3

As did the brand new St Albans station.

Vix ticket gates at St Albans station

Footscray put the ticket gates beside the station office, but a fence prevents passengers from inside the paid area accessing it.

Changing to a City Loop service at Footscray, and you have to touch on again

The staff at South Yarra received a glass shelter instead of a window between the ticket office and the paid area.

Glass booth at South Yarra station to shelter Metro Trains barrier staff from the bitterly cold winds

But the ticket office at Ringwood platform 1 and 2 takes the cake – explicitly designed to put the ticket gates beside it.

Myki gates lead from the overhead concourse to Ringwood platform 1 and 2

But staff still sent out onto a cold bridge, but with a glass booth to shelter them.

Glass booth at Ringwood station to shelter the barrier staff from the icy winds blowing through the overhead concourse

And I missed one

As soon as I shared this post on Twitter, someone pointed out a group of rail employees I’d missed – the hundreds of contract staff providing customer service for rail replacement buses. Some of them get a tent to huddle under.

Dysons bus #749 8181AO and #284 on Sunbury line rail replacement services at Sunshine station

But the bulk of them have to stand around inches from traffic, ready for the next bus to arrive.

Dysons bus 5456AO on a Sunbury line rail replacement service at Sunshine station

Further reading

Daniel Bowen looked into ticket gates in Melbourne further in The ins and outs of fare gates.

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2 Responses to “Rail staff left out in the cold”

  1. Steve Gelsi says:

    They’ve had much more substantial covering at Sunshine for the more recent rail closures – but still cold!

    • Marcus Wong says:

      The big Metro Tunnel and Sunbury Line Upgrade shutdowns saw massive tents erected in the station car park at Sunshine – but minor stations got nothing.

      Shelters in the north-western car park for passengers boarding express buses

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