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The pot of gold the Napthine government is splashing on the Frankston railway line will soon lead to rainbows.
"Rainbow boards" - multi-coloured, live service information screens that are a feature of the London Underground - are coming to Melbourne's rail network too, starting with the line that helped deliver the Coalition to government.
Frankston line passengers will be the first in Melbourne to get the London-style information boards, when they are installed as part of the three-year, $100 million bayside rail project the government announced in May. It is expected rainbow boards will eventually appear at all Melbourne stations as part of a new, city-wide system to inform passengers on the status of the public transport network.
The boards will display live updates about train delays on the network, as well as information on the status of connecting trams and buses.
''All stations on the Frankston line will have new passenger information screens installed which display service status updates for trains, trams and buses, providing improved information for commuters as they arrive at stations,'' a Public Transport Victoria document obtained through freedom-of-information laws states.
The screens will ''not take the place of 'next train' information - but rather provides a high-level overview of disruptions that are occurring across the network''. The boards will use different colours to differentiate between lines and modes.
The $100 million bayside upgrade - which includes some works on the Werribee and Williamstown lines - will pave the way for the state's newest train type, the X'Trapolis, to run on the Frankston line.
The X'Trapolis can only run on some lines, because the positioning of the train driver's seat in the middle of the cab instead of the left means there is no clear line of sight to signals, platform mirrors and CCTV screens.
The government has ordered 15 new X'Trapolis trains, seven of which are already in service. Once the next eight arrive, some older Comeng trains will be moved from the Frankston line to the Belgrave, Alamein, Lilydale and Glen Waverley lines.
The Frankston line runs through four state seats that swung from Labor to Liberal at the 2010 election.
Tony Morton, president of the Public Transport Users' Association, said the rainbow boards would be a welcome innovation, but had ''an element of window dressing''.
''Especially if there is more information about connecting services, trams and buses, there is a value to that but it doesn't detract from the need to do larger improvements on the public transport system,'' Dr Morton said.
''While we appreciate all these incremental improvements it needs to be done in a context where we're also fixing up the fundamental problems with the system. And that of course requires more money.''
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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