Which are the least and most used stations in Victoria?

As mentioned in a previous post, I recently acquired station patronage data for Melbourne and Victoria for 2013 to 2018.

This means that we can now play with the data!

One of the first questions that comes up when looking at station usage data is which stations are have the highest and lowest numbers of passengers.

Which is the least used station in Victoria?

It should come as no surprise that the 10 least used stations in the state are all in regional/country Victoria:

StationPatronage (yearly)Line
Elmore884Echuca
Talbot1,121Maryborough
Creswick1,143Maryborough
Springhurst1,566Albury
Essendon1,645Seymour
Sherwood Park1,814Warrnambool
Avenel2,118Albury
Clunes2,136Maryborough
Berwick2,140Traralgon
Pyramid2,670Swan Hill

Elmore takes out the title of being the least used station in Victoria for 2016-17 with 884 recorded boardings – that’s just 2.42 people per day! However, if you look at the data in previous years, it was previously hovering in around seventh place. I don’t know why it was particularly low in 2016-17 – it might be a data error or perhaps a local disruption. If any locals could enlighten us please let me know in the comments below!

On the metropolitan network, there are few surprises in the least used station data.

All nine stations on the Stony Point Line almost entirely comprise the list of ten least used stations on the metropolitan network.

For the purposes of the table below, I have excluded them and begun with the least-used station on the electrified network instead:

StationPatronage (yearly)Line
Wattle Glen52,664Hurstbridge
Tecoma56,636Belgrave
Officer75,877Pakenham
Willison97,248Alamein
Seaholme103,446Werribee
Upwey125,371Belgrave
Alamein133,093Alamein
Hurstbridge140,518Hurstbridge
Diggers Rest142,198Sunbury
Darebin145,776Hurstbridge

Wattle Glen comes out as the least used station on the metropolitan electrified network for 2016-17 with 52,664 passengers (143.89 per day).

Including the Stony Point Line, Baxter comes out as the least used with 4,696 yearly passengers (12.83 per day).

In many previous years, up until about 2013-14, Wattle Glen was second to Officer as the least used station in Melbourne (excluding the Stony Point Line). Due to the rapid growth in that area, Officer’s patronage has increased from 21,479 in 2008-09 to 91,956 in 2017-18.

A note on this metropolitan data – I have 2017-18 data as well but have opted to only include the 2016-17 data in this post. This is to ensure accurate comparison with V/Line data which only goes up to 2016-17.

Which is the most used station in Victoria?

Once again, we will start with the V/Line statistics.

Unsurprisingly, Southern Cross Station is by far the most used station on the regional train network with 6,612,020 passengers per year (2016-17).

However, some of the other most used stations may surprise you:

StationPatronage (yearly) - V/Line onlyLine
Southern Cross6,612,020Multiple
Tarneit887,566Geelong
Melton726,339Ballarat
Geelong716,314Geelong
Footscray636,013Multiple
Ballarat604,115Ballarat
Wyndham Vale541,400Geelong
South Geelong527,263Geelong
Bendigo407,417Bendigo
Lara320,915Geelong

For metropolitan Melbourne, the numbers get much higher. Again unsurprisingly, Flinders Street Station comes out on top with 27,859,333 passengers per year (2016-17):

StationPatronage (yearly) - V/Line onlyLine
Flinders Street27,859,333
Multiple
Southern Cross17,470,740
Multiple
Melbourne Central15,724,183Multiple
Parliament9,855,426
Multiple
Footscray5,100,122
Multiple
Flagstaff4,645,648
Multiple
Caulfield4,544,747
Multiple
South Yarra4,517,462
Multiple
Richmond3,803,562
Multiple
Box Hill3,769,046
Belgrave/Lilydale


It’s interesting that Box Hill makes it into the top 10 most used stations as it is not an interchange between rail lines. However, it does have a large bus interchange with frequent services from all directions. According to the latest station access statistics, 2,931 people (26.2 percent) use a bus to get to Box Hill Station every day. This is the second highest in Melbourne – only behind Huntingdale.

Data notes

I will qualify the analysis above with a few notes.

The metropolitan station data include all station entrances and exits – including V/Line and interstate passengers where applicable. The V/Line data is regional passengers only.

This data also does not take into account passengers interchanging (particularly at places like Richmond), staff opening myki gates during disruptions, fare evasion or other irregularities. The gate configuration at Caulfield also leads to an overestimate of patronage, as with previous numbers.

Other notes and details on data collection may be found in the original spreadsheets, available here.

8 thoughts on “Which are the least and most used stations in Victoria?

  1. This is really interesting, thank you. It would be interesting to see a comparison of station data for V/Line stations in what is now clearly metropolitan Melbourne. Your most used V/Line stations table shows some of that data, eg Melton, Tarneit, Wyndham Vale are clearly all metro stations still with a V/Line service. It would be interesting to compare the station data of these stations with the other network anomaly you mentioned – the Stony Point line that is considered metro with a diesel service and not very many passengers.

    Thanks for your work!

  2. Hi Phillip, (copying from twitter) – great stats. I’m sad Elmore is last though. But I can add some semi-local knowledge. 1) Elmore has 1 service to and from Melbourne per day on weekdays. On weekends there’s a morning and an evening service. There’s no MYKI you buy it a ticket from the post office or conductor. 2) Eyeballing it, you’d normally be surprised if there were like 10 people getting on the train. It’s usually more like 5 but does vary. Insofar as the 2016-17, I dug up a complaint email I sent in May 2017 about how long the bus replacements had been going on for. 3) It’s a kinda funny complaint (and no I very rarely send complaints) so I’m pasting it here on your blog. But it reveals that bus replacements on that Echuca line had been going on for months in early 2017 (signal works). This meant I/we couldn’t get the train 4) Because we usually bought our cat along in a box and they’re not allowed on the bus. The email also reveals how the Elmore train seems like our own personal weekend/cat service so I’m wary of revealing this lest the 1 service get cut off again but maybe it sheds some light!
    This speaks to your question of the drop-off in Elmore in 2016-17, from 7th last to last. I’m not sure if other stations on the Echuca line were so impacted also? Anyway here’s the complaint, verbatim, I submitted May 12th 2017.
    Comments on past me:
    I am rude about buses but hey often it’s true (I still dread bus drivers and can’t be the only one)
    Saying “Elmore values its train” conflicts with your stats on it being such a low-use train. It’s probably true they like to have it (certainly they fought to get it back), but they don’t use it. More accurate woudl be to say that *I* value it.
    Finally, there is now apparently a realistic prospect of some additional services on the Echuca line, mainly leveraging off Bendigo’s growth.

    2017/100296

    We appreciate you taking the time to contact us.

    Details of your case are below. If you did not submit feedback to V/Line, please ignore this email.

    Your name:

    Elizabeth Taylor

    Case summary:

    Reservation number:

    Myki number:

    Date:

    Time:

    Hi V/line,

    I write to ask whether there is any end date in sight to the coach ‘replacement’ services from Bendigo to Echuca? The Vline website still just says “4 to 7 weeks”, as of some indeterminate point in the past (I think back in April sometime). We have a weekend home in Elmore on the Echuca line, traveling regularly between Melbourne and Elmore. We sometimes have to travel with our pet cat in a carrier box if no-one is available to look after him in Melbourne. As pets are not allowed on the coaches, the past few weeks/months have been very disruptive. We prefer to use public transport but have been driving at some expense and against our wishes because of the pet restrictions.
    I understand the signal works are necessary but it doesn’t help that there is not clear information on the end date. Normally V/Line is quite good on the updates but this time around it has been much more confusing.
    As an aside I think ‘replacement’ is a strange word to use when substituting buses for trains – a bus is not a replacement for a train, especially if you happen to have a pet or bike. Most people don’t of course – but it’s also much harder to do work on a bus. Not to mention that the bus drivers are incredibly fussy about things like food, drinks, using the toilet etc. It’s like being in high school again. They might work with getting from A to B but a bad bus experience can turn people off public transport, whereas the comfortable Vline trains are a real selling point. You probably know all this but given that we pay the same fare for the buses, and the buses have been replacing Echuca trains for weeks now with no clear end date, sometimes I wonder if these decisions are made too lightly and without considering the real experiences of V/line’s country customers.
    Also as an aside (and this isn’t on V/line) I think it’s telling that signal faults don’t result in any changes or inconvenience to car drivers, including those somehow inclined to drive onto train tracks in front of trains unless physically restrained by a number of elaborate but still seemingly insufficient means – lights, boom gates, noises, and finally the train itself which is hard to miss at least for sober drivers. Instead the signal changes cause inconvenience to the few dwindling die-hards – like us – who insist on using the limited Echuca train services. Which, I see, still have no new trains on the horizon in spite of the budget investment in all other regional lines! These kinds of drawn-out disruptions are bad for country towns like Elmore, as are long term disinvestments in its train services. The Elmore community values its train and the train’s return has been very important to having drawn in new Bendigo commuters, retirees, and weekenders. With things like the Rochester dairy closure, the economic viability of places like Elmore and Rochester is also increasingly dependent on connections to major centres like Bendigo.
    My larger complaint is that there should be more train services, not less, and that track works resulting in bus ‘replacements’ should at least a) have an end date and some certainty around them and b) result in improved services for PT users.
    On the smaller and more manageable complaint – I’m hopeful there’s at least an answer on the end to the track works on the Echuca line? Look forward to a response!
    Many thanks,
    Elizabeth

      1. The 2015 dataset states:

        “These estimates are indicative of the magnitude of entries into the station for infrastructure planning purposes and as such they are the best estimates currently available. They are not a precise estimate of entries or growth.These estimates are intended to provide a useful disaggregation of average daily entries around the suburban network. They are appropriate for ranking stations in term of volume of activity.”

        The data in the daily and weekly columns is refered to as “entries” and the annual patronage columns reflect the multiple of these columns.

        The annual patronage numbers in the dataset you obtained matches the pre-2015 data very closely. So PTV is wrong in relation to one of them.

      2. Also, the sum of all the station data is roughly equal to the total patronage figure for the whole metro train network taken from the FY17/18 PTV annual report. 229m vs 242m.

        1. Hmm that’s very interesting, thanks for that information – I’ll follow it up with PTV and see what they have to say.

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