Stupid train tricks at North Melbourne station

Each morning at North Melbourne station passengers headed for the City Loop have a question – which train will be first to depart, and which one will be stuck in the platform?

Passengers change between direct and City Loop trains at North Melbourne

Trains for the City Loop depart from platform 1 and 3.

Pair of City Loop bound services at North Melbourne, the train on platform 1 having the signal to proceed

But there is only one track towards Flagstaff station.

Comeng train about to depart Flagstaff station, as another Northern Loop train approaches in the tunnel behind

So trains have to wait their turn.

Life extension EDI Comeng 540M waits at North Melbourne platform 3 for a path into the City Loop

You could try looking at the screens on the platform to see which one leaves first.

City Loop train also listed at North Melbourne as an option for the next 'Flinders Street' train

But instead you can head up to the overhead concourse.

With the platform for the next City Loop train from North Melbourne unknown, passengers wait on the overhead concourse

And look towards the departure end of the platform.

Two trains waiting to enter the City Loop at North Melbourne

Looking at the same thing train drivers are looking for – signals!

Any combination of red, yellow or green lights means go, while two reds mean stop.

EDI Comeng 511M arrives into North Melbourne platform 1 with an up City Loop service

With your newfound knowledge, you can now pick the first train to depart.

And now City Loop trains are running again from North Melbourne, so everyone heads down to platform 3

And save a grand total of a minute. 😛


You can read more about how Melbourne’s railway signals work at Vicsig and Victorian Railways.

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4 Responses to “Stupid train tricks at North Melbourne station”

  1. andrew says:

    It’s an even more fun game in the evening peak. All three platforms are in use going in towards the city; which platform will get you into the city first?

    The lines on Platforms 1 and 3 join just before Southern Cross, so you can pick the train that comes first at North Melbourne, only to sit outside Southern Cross for a couple of minutes while the later train on the other line races past. Protip is to look at which train is *late*(r) at North Melbourne; Metrol will usually let that train through Southern Cross first.

    You absolutely win in the frustration stakes on the (somewhat rare) occasions when there is a platform blockage at Southern Cross or Flinders St. On those occasions trains bank up. It’s quite possible then to sit between North Melbourne and Southern Cross and see trains on the other route happily pass. Or, if you’ve picked correctly, sail past three or four trains stationary on the other line!

    • Marcus Wong says:

      You’ve also got the extra challenge of trains on platform 6 – will the backlog at Flinders Street lie on the Northern Group tracks towards the City Loop, on the Cross City Group tracks through to Frankston.

  2. Liam says:

    This reminds me of 2012, when they would do works and reverse the direction of Footscray originating trains to enter loop first. It would run so much better, and would save me 20 minutes interchanging to Bellgrave/Lillydale group.

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