A two cars train has been fitted with new MetroCard system last week to make sure rail environment was confirming good results obtained on board buses in Adelaide hills. Tests are on-going at time I am writing this article and no major problem has been detected.
One of Adelaide’s ticketing particularity is installing equipment on board trains rather than equipping stations. Main reason behind this is that most stations of Adelaide rail network do not have adequate building infrastructures to accommodate an efficient classic entry/exit control with automatic barrier gates. This “onboard” arrangement is perfectly adapted to local operation, it is very efficient reducing vandalism and optimizing maintenance. Furthermore current passenger traffic is average by heavy mass transit standards and doesn’t justify such investment. Adelaide railway station is the hub for all rail routes, it is equipped with automatic barriers allowing full control of a good 90% of the traffic.
Each railcar is fitted with tri-technology validators (magnetic tickets LoCo, HiCo, contactless cards), mono-technology validators (contactless cards), automatic vending machine and a Driver console in each driving cabin. Vending machines accept coins, give change and in very near future credit cards will be accepted. Passengers can obtain a pre-validated magnetic ticket for their trip or recharge their MetroCard. Note that recharging MetroCard doesn’t wave necessity to validate trip using validators.
Train drivers use the console to identify themselves and to set next trip to be done, then everything is automatic thanks to GPS, 3G transmission and inter car communication line.
The unprecedented rail upgrade program currently ongoing will undoubtedly generate a patronage increase in very near future. This has been taken into account by increasing number of validators per door: current system features one validator per door, new MetroCard system has four validators per door. This greatly improve boarding times making it possible to reduce the time spent by the train at each station.
Like for buses, railcars connect to MetroCard computer centre via 3G which provides rich and reliable means of communication. Credit card module is directly connected the bank via a GPRS connection to ensure security and confidentiality of transactions.
Rollout on all trains is scheduled to start at the end of this trial period.