Seems like we’re now stuck with the rather dull term HCMT (High Capacity Metro Train) for the new train fleet to run initially on the Cranbourne/Pakenham line.
The first train was out and and about taking passengers just after Christmas (for one return trip), but more are expected to be running when the new timetable takes effect at the end of January.
The question has been repeatedly asked: how many seats will the HCMTs have? Some people assume it’ll be far fewer than the existing trains, but it’s not really the case.
Unlike the existing fleets, which consist of just Motor and Trailer cars (hence the M and T suffixes you see on the carriage numbers) the HCMT will have several different carriage types:
(Edit: Revised after I messed this up the first time)
- Tc – Trailer car with cab
- DMp – Motor car with pantograph and intercar door
- Mp – Motor car with pantograph without intercar door
- DT – Trailer car with intercar door
The consist of a seven car train will be: Tc – DMp – Mp – DT – Mp – DMp – Tc
This means the end carriages with the cabs are actually trailers – the motors are in other parts of the train.
Presumably the slightly complicated carriage type acronyms are to help cater for future expansion of the trains to 10 cars each.
The passenger area will be continous, and the intercar doors will normally be open, but can be closed in an emergency (to stop the spread of a fire, for instance).
The different HCMT carriage types have different numbers of seats. There’s some sections of longitudinal seating (along the walls) which adds space for standing, luggage, wheelchairs and bicycles, but reduces seat numbers compared to the transverse seating more commonly seen in Melbourne.
Why not have the entire train filled with longitudinal seating? Because unlike on some inner-city metro systems, a lot of Melbourne train passengers travel for 40, 50, 60+ minutes, so seats are important. (Even on metro systems like London Underground, trains on some lines include some transverse seating to cater for longer journeys.)
How many seats?
Squirrelled away on Metro’s web site is this technical document, which on page 13 has a summary of seats and total capacity in the different types of trains. Unlike some sources you might find, it takes into account the seat reductions from a few years ago – that was the change that increased the “load standard” from 798 to 900.
For the sake of comparison, I’ll include the old and new seat counts, and also the numbers from the retired Hitachi trains.
|Train type||Train length (cars)||Previous seats||Current seats||Current average seats per car|
So the HCMT has about the same number of seats per carriage, and more seats in total per train. But it’s also a longer train (which is why some platforms have had to be lengthened), with more continuous usable area for passengers, and without mostly unused driver cabs halfway along the train taking valuable space.
And that’s where the “High Capacity” in HCMT comes from. It’s not magic, and it’s not fewer seats – it’s about making more space, and more efficient use of it.