This seems to cause endless confusion: A figure of 798 (or 133 per carriage) is often incorrectly implied to be the capacity of a Melbourne train.
According to Victorian government standards, a six-carriage train is considered “full” if more than 798 passengers are aboard.
— Age 17/5/2011: Peak-hour trains still a horror trip
But 798 is not a capacity figure, it’s a “desired load standard”.
It’s saying if you go above 798, then things are reaching a crowded level and something needs to be done to resolve it and cope with further growth.
As one government document describes it:
Suburban trains are deemed to be overcrowded if the average load over a one hour period as counted at the city cordon exceeds 798 passengers. This load standard has been set to avoid excessive loading (greater than 1100) on individual trains at the peak loading point on the route. Beyond this load, passengers regularly complain about overcrowding and it becomes very difficult to maintain the reliability of the service as loading and unloading times become excessive.
— East West Rail Link: Analysis on rail capacity, March 2008
Part of the confusion is that the operator contracts are worded to say “Maximum capacity”, which is extremely misleading. Perhaps the intent (when this was originally instituted, which I think was back in 1999 with privatisation) was to ensure that “load breaches” (going over the limit) are taken seriously.
Volume 1 of the Train Franchise Agreement, section 6, has a lot of detail, including what happens when a load breach occurs — basically PTV and the operator review it and figure out what they should do (if anything) in response.
It also notes that the load standard can be varied, for instance to account for different designs of train (or, as may be relevant at some stage, longer trains if we end up with 9-car services). Schedule 6 (in volume 2) gives a bunch of detail about the methodology in calculating it, and on page 48 it specifies the 133 per carriage figure (83 for Stony Point trains, which are run with diesel sprinter trains).
There is a PTV page with recent load survey results — they manage to be completely vague on precisely what it is they’re measuring. No wonder people are confused.
So what is the capacity of a train?
The actual absolute capacity (the “crush load”) is much higher, and would be very unpleasant to experience.
Vicsig has some capacity figures (6-cars):
|Train type||Seats||Crush load|
|Comeng (Alstom refurb)||536||1526|
|Comeng (EDI refurb)||556||(not specified)|
My guess is the X’Trapolis figures are from before the recent programme of removing some seats (which also matches the newer carriages in the fleet). Note also that one Comeng 3-car set was altered as a trial by Connex.
- Trainspotting: how to tell the different types of train apart
- A blog post from earlier in the year which looked at the number of seats in different types of trains
- Update January 2016: New seat layouts, and the train load standard is increasing from 798 to 900
Hold off on comments about the Myki card expiry thing — I’ll look at this in a day or two.