Peak hour overcrowding rife on Melbourne trains

Overcrowding on Melbourne trains is on the rise during the morning peak, according to a new Public Transport Victoria (PTV) survey.

PTV’s annual “Metropolitan Train Load Standards Survey Report” showed a 9% increase in morning peak congestion from 2015 to 2016. Across the six years surveyed, overcrowding has risen from 42 trains over capacity in 2011, to a total of 51 congested services in 2016.

This means 27.7% of total passengers experienced congestion during their morning commute.


Professor John Stone, Lecturer in Transport Planning in Urban Planning Program at the University of Melbourne, said this data is unsurprising.

“We don’t have enough trains during the peak periods and we also have regular delays on services, which causes on a knock on effect of overcrowding,” Professor Stone said.

In the morning peak, the Craigieburn line was the single line with the highest number of overcrowded trains. A total of 10 trains recorded over capacity, equating to 50% of all Craigieburn services during the 7:01am to 9am period.

The Sunbury line also had significant overcrowding, with 40% of trains over capacity. The Dandenong Corridor, which includes the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines, also had a total of 12 overcrowded trains, equating to 37.5% of total services.


But congestion is on the decline during the PM peak period. There are now only 22 trains considered over capacity across the board, compared to the 39 services in 2011. This accounts for only 7.3% of total recorded services.

The Dandenong Corridor once again featured among those lines with the highest number of overcrowded services. These services included 10 trains above capacity during the 3:31pm to 7pm period.

But there have been improvements on the Werribee line. Numbers have fallen from 42.9% of all services being overcrowded in 2015, to only 18.2% of total services over capacity in 2016.


But there is still a widespread issue of overcrowding on Melbourne trains.

“PTV is working with the Department and Metro to develop timetable changes that will help to reduce overcrowding on trains at peak times,” a PTV spokesperson said.

And the Minister for Public Transport, Jacinta Allen, said the Victorian Government is focused on improving Melbourne’s public transport.

“After four years of neglect and under investment by the former Liberal Government, we know there is pressure on Victoria’s train system,” Minister Jacinta Allen said. “[Our] record investment in better public transport will reduce waiting, crowding, and delays for passengers across Melbourne and Victoria.”

Professor Stone said there needs to be more direct action from the government and transport operators to reduce congestion.

“Signalling and timetabling are important areas in need of investment,” Professor Stone said. “But it needs to be done in a way that we can be sure we’re getting value for money.”

“My fear is if we don’t have a very open process in articulating exactly what we want from the signalling system, and what we want the timetable to look like in the future, we might end up cutting corners.”

The public, and the power of social media, could also prove to be the catalyst in creating improvements across the board.

“Every time you can’t get on the train because it’s overcrowded, make sure you tweet the minister and make it known on social media,” Professor Stone said. “In the cities where public transport has improved, it has come out of people not putting up with it anymore.”

“So don’t just complain about it. We really have to get angry and organised.”


You can view the interactive graphs from this piece here:


(First published on the City Journal on October 3rd 2016)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: