Commuters stunned by little-known detail at Sydney train stations: 'Game changer'

The feature was introduced in 2019, but scores of Aussies say they've 'never noticed'.

Being crammed on a crowded train is no doubt high on the list of things commuters hate about public transport, but scores of Aussies are just learning there's a simple way to avoid it — even during peak hour.

Standing at a busy platform at a station in Sydney's CBD, one traveller noticed a tiny detail on the overhead screen which showed the next train to arrive. Beneath the name of the service is a colourful diagram showing the occupancy of each carriage.

"I was today years old when I noticed that this shows how full the carriages are," the woman named Carolina wrote in a video shared on TikTok, suggesting she's a regular Sydney trains user but had never noticed the feature.

Screens on platforms at Sydney train stations.
Sydney commuters were stunned after realising what the occupancy indicators on the platform screens mean. Source: TikTok

The diagram shows several carriages numbered one to eight on the screen which are colour-coded according to the occupancy of the carriages. Red indicates that a carriage is full, amber shows there's standing room only and green means there's plenty of room and that seats are available.

"How did I not pay attention to this? "she questioned in the caption — and she's not the only one.

Commuters stunned: 'Never noticed'

Loads of others were shocked to learn of the feature despite travelling on Sydney trains regularly.

"I never ever noticed this and I catch Sydney trains all the time," one said in the comments. "Mad so I'm not the only one who only found this out?" another joked.

Another admitted they only "got this now after 15 years" of commuting. Meanwhile, another Sydney woman shared her own video showing the same thing, dubbing it a "game changer".

How does the feature work?

Amazed by the helpful feature — which launched in 2019 — many wondered how the occupancy is measured.

A spokesperson for Transport for NSW spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia "the graphic is produced using the carriage capacity indicator, which uses data from weight sensors built into each carriage".

It's currently only available in Waratah trains and is able to "calculate how many passengers are on board and where space is available," the spokesperson continued.

"For other train set types across the network we use predictive data based on Opal data. It does this by predicting congestion to 90 per cent accuracy.

"Passengers can view that information on the indicator screens on platforms when a train is arriving and choose where to stand to board carriages with the most available space. The carriage capacity indicator is also available on real-time apps and is a great way for passengers to quickly find out where seats are available on a train."

Do you have a story tip? Email:

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube.