Metro Trains has announced it will schedule extra services this weekend to relieve strain placed on the system by popular events such as the AFL and comedy festival.
People were delayed in Melbourne’s CBD last weekend as fans tried to board trains home after the opening round of the football season.
Andrew Mase, who attended the Melbourne International Comedy Festival on Saturday night, which clashed with the Western Bulldogs vs West Coast game, told the Newsroom he was forced to board a crowded train. “I thought that with the footy on there was a chance I would get on a pretty empty train because they would have more [trains] running because the city was so busy being a Saturday night, but I was left squashed up against about five other people,” he said.
“It wasn’t a very comfortable ride home. It wasn’t like the city was that crowded, it just became so when there weren’t enough trains to hold everyone.”
Richmond station was most affected: some fans waited nearly an hour for services. The AFL and MCG have acknowledged the issue but say it isn’t a serious problem.
Metro last year closed myki gates to minimise fare evasion but there were complaints that slowed down traffic through the gates and made already busy platforms more crowded. Metro announced this week that the gates would remain closed unless crowding endangered public safety.
Jose Robert, who attended the Thursday night season opener at the MCG, told the Newsroom he waited 45 minutes to board a train home. “I got to the station straight after the siren went and I waited for a good 45 minutes and missed 2 trains before I finally squeezed on.”
Mr Robert said added services would be a must this weekend. “If I’m going to keep coming to the footy every week, I need to know I’ll be getting home as quick as possible. Otherwise I will just stay home and watch it.”
Metro has promised it will make improvements. Extra services will run on several lines to and from the CBD this weekend to coincide with sports fixture start and finish times.
The Eltham, Sandringham, South Morang, Cragieburn, Upper Ferntree Gully, Pakenham, Mordialloc and Glen Waverly lines will all run extra services for the three games in Melbourne – at the MCG (served by Richmond station) and Etihad Stadium (Southern Cross station).
The AFL’s general manager of clubs, Travis Auld, said the AFL was aware of the situation.
“Metro Trains have changed their processes around having to scan your card as you exit into the train station on the way out from a game,” he said.
“Their view is that it didn’t cause any significant issues on Thursday night but they’re certainly, as we are, mindful that they want to make it as easy for supporters to get in and out of the stadium as they can.”
This weekend there are again several major events coinciding in the city. The Newsroom will monitor traffic to see if the extra services prove enough to ease the congestion. – Photo and report by Jake Benoiton