Melbourne’s Metro train system is wide reaching, but starting to show its age. As the rail infrastructure in the city and outer suburbs has not grown in proportion to the population, the last decade has been particularly tough on trains. In hot summer months, breakdowns and line closures can become common as the decaying tracks flex in the heat, or electric engines suffer from power failure. Some lines regularly experience overcrowding as the neighbourhoods they service have grown, but the number of carriages have not. However, these problems are not felt by all travellers on the rail system. Connections to the outer suburbs in the east generally have very new trains with adequate space for all commuters, and more recent additional lines and sidings to allow for better system management.
For more information, or to determine stations, routes, lines, timetables or use a journey planner, see http://www.metlinkmelbourne.com.au/
Displayed Destinations / Line Information
Working out which line you will need to take to reach your destination is notoriously hard for newcomers to Melbourne’s rail network. Main displays at stations will generally only mention the name of a line’s final destination, leaving you to guess if your stop is along the way. Under no circumstances should you trust the displays on trains that show the train line you are on and the next stop. These displays are like a joke played on the uninitiated, with frequent inaccuracies. Major stations (such as Flinders St) have officials who you can point you in the right direction, but asking other passengers will generally get you to your destination.
Melbourne once had conductors who sold tickets and watched over their passengers. Due to deregulation this is no longer the case, but uniformed and plain clothes ticket inspectors prowl public transport looking for fare-dodgers. These officers are intensely disliked and most Melburnians will have a bad story about them. They have extraordinary powers, including the power to remove you from the vehicle and physically detain you. This is common if a passenger is found without a valid ticket or any ID. They will ask you for phone numbers of those who can verify the details you have given them (and you are obliged by law to offer your name, address and telephone number). Pleading ignorance of the system will almost never work and the fines are steep (around AUD$160).
All Metro Trains use both the Metlink Ticket and the Myki system. The price* of a ticket is dependant upon the amount of distance travelled between end points (as split into 2 Zones the train system operates across), and the amount of time the ticket is valid for (2-hour or all day). Zone 1 covers all inner city destinations in the CBD and inner suburbs, with further outer suburb and regional destinations covered by Zone 2. Travellers commuting from the outer suburbs to the inner city will be required to purchase a ticket that covers both Zones (Zone1+2).
* Discounts are available for students, children under 12, and senior citizens.
Metlink tickets are cardboard with a magnetic strip. They can be purchased in 2-hour, daily, weekly, monthly and yearly variations. 2-hour and daily tickets can be purchased at machines in all train stations (make sure you bring coins). Weekly, monthly, and yearly passes must be purchased from major train stations or newsagents advertising them with the colourful Metlink banner.
Prices as of May 2010 are as follows. For current prices, see https://www.metlinkmelbourne.com.au/
|10 X 2 Hour / 5 X Daily / Weekly||Full Fare||$29.40||$20.20||$49.60|
|Yearly||Full Fare Only||$1173.00||$785.00||$1808.00|
The new electronic Myki system currently operates under the same cost principles of the Metlink Ticket system, however the Myki system calculates fares and automatically charges users the lowest possible fare. Myki cards must be purchased online and then posted to you. Once you’ve received your Myki card you can register online and allocate funds to your Myki account*. Alternatively, credit can be added to your account at major stations in the CBD with new Myki hubs, or at the Myki Branch (currently the only branch) in Southern Cross Station.
To purchase a Myki card, Register your Myki account, or for more information, see http://www.myki.com.au/
*Be forewarned, funds added to your Myki account online can take up to 72 hours to be credited, which often leads to confusion, frustration, and the eventual purchase of a short-term Metlink Ticket.
V-LINE TRAINS (Long-Distance)
Long distance trains servicing Victoria (V-Line) depart and arrive from Southern Cross Station. V-Line trains can connect you to more regional destinations, and in some cases out-of-state areas (such as Adelaide). While the idea of travelling a large country by train can be romantic, the reality is usually less so. With distances between points of interest being quite large in Australia, the prospect of paying equal to (or in some cases more than) the cost of airfare to sit in an increasingly uncomfortable chair for 12 hours or more does not appeal to many people. While long distance travel by plane is highly recommended whenever possible, travel by train does allow a unique view of the country and wildlife that cannot be experienced from the air.
All tickets for V-Line trains can be purchased at the main ticket office in Southern Cross Station, or online at http://www.vline.com.au/