How To Get The Best Seat On Your Train Trip

There's a new feature that makes catching crowded public transport slightly more relaxing.

What you need to know
  • Data will be available for 600,00 daily trips on Waratah trains
  • Apps displaying the data include TripView, NextThere, Anytrip, TripGo and the Opal Travel App
  • The data is refreshed each time the doors close

Your daily train commute just got a little bit more comfortable with a new feature telling you how crowded your train is before it arrives.

As part of several apps, including TripView, the data for 600,000 daily trips on Waratah trains will be available, showing passengers which carriage is the best to board.

The Australian-first technology was released on Wednesday morning to the delight of train commuters who welcome anything that helps lessen the burden of crowded public transport.

"It would be handy to know as I have a long trip and need to transfer trains, I'm always looking for a  less crowded carriage," train traveller Alex Arnott told ten daily of his one-hour daily commute.

This screenshot, taken this morning, shows the availability of seats in each carriage. Image: Nadine Carroll

The data is based on the weight of each carriage and is calculated each time the doors close at a station. The app then calculates how full each carriage is, determining whether you're likely to get a seat or if it's standing room only.

With passengers coming in all different shapes and sizes, the app bases its data on the average weight of an adult of 78.05kgs, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

On the day the new feature launched, ten daily took a trip to test how reliable the app was -- and the results were surprisingly accurate.

On a trip from the western Sydney suburb of Meadowbank to Central, the app showed that the incoming train had plenty of available seats and, as more passengers boarded at each stop, the app updated to show seat availability in real time.

Left: The app shows that all carriages have plenty of available seats. Right: Once on board, the majority of the seats are empty, showing the accuracy of the app. Image: Nadine Carroll

The feature has been used with success on Sydney buses since 2016 and it's hoped introducing the technology to train travel will allow passengers to make better choices and ease congestion on the overcrowded network.

“Letting customers know which services might be full or which carriages still have seats will make commuting choices easier," said Transport and Infrastructure Minister Andrew Constance.

The data will be available to customers on transportnsw.info andTrip Planner as well as the apps TripView, NextThere, Anytrip, TripGo and the Opal Travel App.

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Contact the author: ncarroll@networkten.com.au