Vic, Platform danger overstated: Connex
Platform danger overstated: Connex

    * Clay Lucas
    * September 25, 2008

CONNEX has rejected claims that overcrowding on city train platforms has become so bad that passengers risk falling on to the tracks.

Commuters have told The Age of fears they would be pushed into the path of trains by surging crowds at Flinders Street Station this week.

On Monday night, bad weather forced hundreds of extra commuters into the station at rush hour, leading to severe overcrowding.

But Mark Paterson, Connex's head of corporate affairs, said in a letter to The Age, that there was no danger to passengers and that the overcrowding was not as severe as it had seemed.

"Examination of closed circuit television (footage) confirms there was plenty of space up and down the platform, but that people were congregating around the escalator end to escape the bad weather."

Mr Paterson said the train operator was investigating "innovative methods" of moving passengers through Flinders Street station more quickly.

Patronage on the city's trains has increased 38% in the past three years.

Acting Public Transport Minister Tim Pallas said Monday night's overcrowding at Flinders Street had lasted for only "seven to eight minutes". "We will be putting on, in co-operation with Connex, an extra 20 staff to manage crowd issues," he said.

But The Age believes the staff have been employed to diffuse commuter anger over plans to change the running schedule of morning trains through the City Loop. From November, all Epping, Hurstbridge and Werribee line trains will run direct to Flinders Street instead of going around the loop.

The Age received hundreds of letters and emails in response to reports of overcrowding on platforms. Many complained of dangerous situations on escalators as passengers poured into City Loop stations. Others told of seeing passengers faint.
"How long will the next train be? Six cars would be my guess."

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