Melbourne's drab train stations reimagined
From Burnley to Reservoir, these designs from the new "Dream Stations" exhibition breathe new life into the city's drab train stations.PT1M32S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-3aaa4 620 349 June 17, 2014
Some of Melbourne’s most drab and dysfunctional suburban railway stations have been reimagined as vibrant public transport hubs serviced by London-style elevated train lines, in a new exhibition that posits a future transport network designed to cope with the city's relentless population boom.
The exhibition, Dream Stations, is an attempt to breathe new life into nine stations around Melbourne that have been nominated by local councils as unattractive places disconnected from the local community.
Central to reviving the stations and their often-derelict surrounds is a proposal to elevate Melbourne’s rail lines, as an efficient way to remove level crossings and create spaces below for shops and community crossing points. Elevated rail lines already run through inner parts of Melbourne, including Richmond, Collingwood and Hawthorn.
Melbourne Train Stations Now And The Future
Newport Train Station as it is today. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones
Project leader Ian Woodcock, research fellow in urban design at the University of Melbourne, said most Melbourne railway stations ''are difficult to find and difficult to get into'', while newer stations mostly have soulless designs focused on safety and vandal-proofing.
''We can do so much better,'' Mr Woodcock said.
The design for each station included a set of core requirements well above the general Melbourne standard; full weather protection, toilets, staff and ticket offices, a small supermarket, 10 small shops, community facilities, space for potential commercial and residential development, and improved tram, bus, bike and walking connections.
The exhibition is part of a two-year, $156,000 project that was partially council funded and was supported by transport authorities and operators including Public Transport Victoria, VicTrack, VicRoads and Metro.
How the Melbourne School of Design would turn nine ugly railway stations into great places
An important interchange station for three eastern suburbs rail lines, but also a major barrier between communities in Richmond and Burnley. A 1960s road overpass casts a gloomy shadow over the station and severs it from the local pedestrian network. The only way to cross the railway line is via two narrow underpasses.
Solution: Remove the road overpass and elevate the station to open up the area to cyclists and pedestrians. Consider a development of eight to 10 storeys on VicTrack land at station’s western end. Add new high-frequency bus service.
Busy station on South Morang line is ‘‘at the centre of Reservoir but not at its heart’’. Surrounded by a complex tangle of arterial roads, station has just one 140-metres wide pedestrian crossing point across several hundred metres, which is arduous and unsafe to cross. Station sits on a large parcel of VicTrack land considered to have low development potential due to lack of station amenity.
Solution: Challenge is to turn station precinct into the heart of Reservoir’s community. Elevate rail line and introduce new retail. Extend tram route 112 from Preston terminus through Reservoir to Latrobe University.
Quiet suburban station in low-density residential area, one stop north of Reservoir. Rail line forms a major physical barrier; no nearby road crossing and one narrow pedestrian underpass. Primitive, shed-like station building provides minimal shelter and amenity.
Solution: Reimagine station as heart of a new activity centre, with retail and community space. Add new east-west bus route. Raise or sink rail line.
Crucial interchange station for Melbourne’s west. Narrow station underpass is the only pedestrian crossing point for more than a kilometre in each direction. Access to buses is via an underground tunnel.
Solution: Station could be elevated or put underground. Improve retail and community function of the station precinct. Consider light rail service to CBD via Fishermans Bend.
Upfield line station sits in the attractive Gandolfo gardens, which have heritage significance, is close to two tram lines and a bus route. But it only has two crossing points, at level crossing and a steep footbridge.
Solution: Preserve existing station building but shift station south of Moreland Road, where there is a dishevilled parcel of VicTrack land. Raise station as part of project to elevate Upfield line between Brunswick and Coburg, which would remove 12 level crossings.
Abuts Bell Street, one of Melbourne’s busiest arterial roads. Level crossing causes terrible congestion and is the only local crossing point. Transfers to buses are difficult and pedestrian movement is dangerous and constrained. The station building is charmless and non-descript.
Solution: Elevate rail line and intensively develop VicTrack land to the station’s west to connect the station to Darebin Performing Arts Centre.
Quiet station on Craigieburn line is served by a single meandering bus route that follows the Craigieburn line to Roxburgh Park. Station sits at the bottom of a valley, with long-term plan to grade separate the level crossing.
Solution: Elevate line and add high-capacity east-west bus route.
Elevated Upfield line station is difficult to get to, with major arterial roads on two sides. Narrow, tightly curved platform is unsafe and fails disability standards. Overlooks Moonee Ponds Creek concrete drain. Two nearby tram routes are disconnected from station.
Solution: Move station north to connect with tram route 59 and form part of gateway to Melbourne, alongside CityLink’s sculptural flyover.
Elevated station in Abbotsford sits on an embankment, and is non-descript and invisible. Feels unsafe after dark. Transfers to Johnston Street buses are difficult. Large parcel of disused VicTrack land.
Solution: Intensive development around station of five to seven storeys will connect it with local neighbourhood as heart of a high-density retail, commercial and residential district in the inner city.
Proposals to improve the amenity of Melbourne’s stations were backed by key transport advocacy groups.
Public Transport Users Association president Tony Morton agreed that too many Melbourne stations were badly designed and discouraged people from using public transport.
''Some of the recent station designs in Melbourne almost look as though they’ve been more inspired by prison architecture than public facilities,'' Dr Morton said.
But he said making stations aesthetically pleasing was less important than getting the basics right, such as passenger access and amenity.
The RACV said accessibility and comfort were most important. Surveys found passengers considered toilets and ample parking, particularly at outer-suburban and regional stations, to be vital.
''The RACV believes the most important feature to consider in the construction of a new railway station is ensuring accessibility to the station itself, whether it be by vehicle, bus, bicycle or on foot,'' said Thanuja Gunatillake, RACV’s manager public transport and mobility.
Transport consultant Chris Hale said it would be challenging to overcome a cultural resistance to elevating rail lines in Melbourne, despite many successful overseas examples, including the light railway at London’s Docklands.
''Elevated rail is, in many respects, the best option,'' Dr Hale said.
Dream Stations is at Chapman & Bailey Gallery, 350 Johnston Street, Abbotsford, June 19-July 5.