Categories
transport

Evolution trains: First impressions

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.

HCMT/Evolution train arriving at Caulfield

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.)

Evolution/HCMT train: view between carriages

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.

Evolution/HCMT train automated signage
Evolution/HCMT train carriage interior

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.

Evolution/HCMT train signage

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.

Seating in a Evolution/HCMT train

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.

Evolution/HCMT train carriage, including automated signage

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.

Walking through an Evolution/HCMT train

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.

Evolution/HCMT train door signage

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.

Evolution/HCMT train external CCTV and intercarriage connection

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.

Evolution/HCMT train arriving Caulfield

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.

HCMT Evolution train: Real (2021) vs prototype (2018)

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.

Evolution/HCMT train leaving Westall

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.

20 replies on “Evolution trains: First impressions”

On the doors if both sides go red when the train stops at a station it generally means the train hasnt read the ASDO beacon.

That same beacon tells the train what side doors open and displays it on the screens.

“you can walk from end to end”. Wow. This is the first 6-carriage train I can do that.
Thanks for your review.

Is there any way to see online when a scheduled service is meant to run with one of these bad boys?

I wonder what’s the update on the X’Trapolis 2.0? Is it in the pipeline? Is it happening or is it not on the table anymore?

@Brad, today I learnt about the acronym ASDO! Thanks!

@Roger, this train is 7 cars.

@Mat, unfortunately no I don’t think there’s a way. You just have to wait and see what shows up.

There’s a surprising number of people not wearing masks in your photos/videos. Isn’t there still a mandate on public transport on Victoria?

They need more hand rails along the middle. Shorter people in the middle have nothing to hold on to.

Also, I hope their cooling/air circulation is a lot better than the current Cranbourne/Pakenham trains – they’re really sweaty, even in winter! The Sandringham line trains are way better.

I had one ride a few weeks ago, Richmond to Pakenham. Generally, my ride was a good one.

One bother I see is, that display says ‘announcement in progress’ when it is announcing the name of the station it is at. It replaces the text that shows the station name.

While this feature is good when an important announcement is being made, its pointless for station announcements, and, when many people need the display to show the station name, such as deaf people. I hope they fix that.

I have noticed a lack of Siemens trains on the Pakenham line recently. It may have been just the lucky chance of my many recent visits to the station, but, I cant help but think, are they getting the Comeng trains ready for quick 1:1 replacements as each HCMT enters service, or, has Metro gone to recent plans where they want the Siemens trains to be fixed to the cross city lines?

I got to ride one yesterday, and I agree, the doors are the most annoying part of the train. Also it might just be me, but the button doesn’t seem to travel much (if at all) when pressed, which isn’t actually an issue, it just annoys me

@L2, yes mask wearing is still compulsory on public transport in Victoria. In peak hours the compliance is very high. Outside peak hours… not so much.

@Campbell Kerr, which trains did you have in mind? The Sandringham line runs Siemens and Comeng trains – the same ones as run on the Cranbourne/Pakenham line – at least until the new Evolution trains started.

(Here’s a summary of which is which)

In Sydney last week (on a pretty old train) I noticed they have an extra handhold in the form of a cavity in the ceiling, next to the doors. It would be useful for people standing in the doorway when the train is packed, and provides something to hold onto without protruding from the ceiling. Any clever tricks like that in these new trains?

@mat

If you want to have a ride, the best place to go, is the HCMT fan group on Facebook. sometimes you may get somebody posting times of a train the following day, or, you can be alerted to when a train leaves Pakenham. You may get that in time, to catch it on its return to Pakenahm?

I had my first ride on the new train today. I like the displays and the carriages are very spacious. In pre-pandemic times I would never have got a seat, but these days I always can so I can confirm the seats were comfy. And yes, I had the issue with opening the door.
Mask wearing is declining – I’d say about 30% of people are not wearing them. I don’t understand why they don’t have reminder signs on trains like they do on platforms. It’s a shame, as the trains start to fill up again it is more important.

Looking at the timetable, I can see 3 “regularly” scheduled HCMT services that are extra to the regular 20min / 3tph frequency from Pakenham on weekdays.

They are (Dep Pakenham):
0920
1319
2212

And Dep Flinders St:
1045
1439
2342

I haven’t seen an HCMT run on a proper service, only these extra ones (I assume to avoid fines for cancellations).

See them go past our place in Hughesdale very couple of days, but very infrequently. I haven’t managed to catch one yet, but catch trains so rarely it’ll be some time for that.

From outside they seem much quieter than the other suburban trains, I’m not sure if that’s just because they’re new or something to do with the design.

They also have *blindingly* bright lights, a real problem for walkers & cyclists on the adjacent bike path all built as part of skyrail, you pretty much have to stop and face away when they’re coming towards you at night

I have caught two of these trains in the last couple of weeks. Both times they did not appear on the PTV App, although there were scheduled to run as per the timetable and did show up on the Metro website, perhaps a bug? Anyway, nice trains, plenty of room with 7 carriages.

Leave a Reply