A few of the Evolution trains (aka High-Capacity Metro Trains, or HCMTs for short) are now out and about in passenger service, with more being delivered into the stabling facility at Pakenham East.
Last week I got to ride one for the first time. Here are some photos and first impressions.
The one I caught appeared to be an extra trip – it wasn’t in the app, and the time didn’t match up to anything in the timetable. They might be being cautious about running them as services for which Metro would get penalised if something goes wrong.
Externally it does look a bit different from the rest of the fleet, with a pointier nose, and smooth sides.
The train accelerates nicely, and the ride feels pretty smooth… at least on the newer tracks. No surprise but it’s a bit bumpy on the older sections of track. The carriage ends have lots of open space, making it easy to move around. (Total seats are about the same as older trains, but this train is a bit longer.)
There are some pretty nice displays showing the next station, which stops the train will call at, and which side of the train the next platform will be. While I was on the train (from Caulfield to Westall), everything seemed to be showing the correct information.
Maps in the train reflect that these trains only run on the Cranbourne/Pakenham line, and the Loop direction for this line is anticlockwise all day, every day.
If you hunt around, you can find the seats in the train which are slightly larger than those next to the doors. The seats themselves seem comfortable enough – not too hard, not too soft – at least based on my short ride.
I think the backs of the seats are intended to be graffiti-proof. Hopefully that works. There are a lot of handholds, though note this train (like the older ones) appears to have the centre false ceiling preventing lots of handholds in the middle.
The aisle is pretty wide, and the longitudinal seating near the ends of carriages makes it fairly easy to walk through the train. With no driver cabs midway along the train like the older fleets, you can walk from end to end if you want.
Warning signs on the doors. I didn’t think they were noticeably faster than others in the fleet, but maybe I wasn’t fully paying attention.
On the outside of the train, you can see some fairly chunky CCTV cameras, and between the carriages are guards to help prevent people falling through the gap.
The train does have one very noticeable issue: the doors, and how they work. People are used to holding down the button before the doors are released. On other trains, the doors open as soon as they are ready.
But on these new trains, this causes the button to not respond for an additional half a second, causing confusion. It prompted our driver to make an announcement about it – but I hope they can change the programming and fix it.
And this is when everything’s working as intended. There have been instances of all the doors locking, unable to be opened.
I didn’t check, but I assume the doors are designed to provide level boarding at the newer stations. There’s likely to be a small gap at older ones, necessitating a ramp for passengers with wheelchairs.
Overall the train looks very like the mockup I saw back in 2018 – which is good, as this was used for some fairly extensive usability testing.
Apart from the problems with the doors, the train looks pretty good.
Hopefully they’ll get the issues sorted out, and get more of them in service soon.
The Evolution trains will run on the Cranbourne/Pakenham line initially, then onto the Sunbury line when the Metro tunnel opens around 2025. (New power upgrades are currently appearing on that line in readiness.)
Eventually they’ll probably find their way onto some other lines too.