train carrying bikes in walkway

Narrow Capacity

Melbournes government operated passenger trains have a mixture of rolling stock in use dating back only 30 years, receiving frequent internal updates they provide good levels of comfort though as with Melbourne in general attract more than the usual graffiti. The newest of the designs was previously shown with an unusual bike in Hooked on Trains, while this image is more representative of reality.

train carrying bikes in walkway

Advertised as having a higher passenger capacity than the existing trains which are a 2+3 layout, the fewer passengers seated in this 2+2 configuration leaves all the gains in wider isles that can be tight packed with standing passengers. Which might be a good idea on an inner city route with short journeys, but several of the Metropolitan lines in Melbourne extend beyond an hour of travel. Within the image are 3 different attempts to travel with a bicycle.

The first bicycle is hooked into the handrail so the cyclist does not have to hold the bike, it however blocks the isle completely in the 2+2 layout where as in the 2+3 layout a clear 600mm remains for passage.

Obscured behind is the second bicycle which is being held upright along the isle by a rider seated in the seats, narrowing the isle with the protruding handlebars though just the seat is visible in the image which is already reducing the width to an uncomfortable squeeze.

Finally in the next doorway along a pair of cyclists are standing holding their bicycles across the train and again blocking the isle. Standing along the train with the bike simply blocks the doors and requires the same constant shuffling to move people through the area.

From my counting on several services bicycles are brought onto the train by between 1% and 4% of the users. Having a bicycle they are not travelling one or two stops before getting off but on these new 2+2 layouts are forced into holding the bicycle and standing amongst the short distance travellers. Even when trying to be as considerate as possible an occasional passenger will still get offended by the presence of a bicycle in their way, immediately jumping on the cyclists as the problem without a pause to consider the infrastructure and lack of options available. Their usual reply of “don’t bring your bike on the train” is hardly a solution as the roads just like the trains would of course be much more pleasant if there were no other users.

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