Today I'm gonna start something a bit out of nowhere and unexpected. I'm gonna start reviewing train stations.
I really like trains. Call it the "Thomas the Tank Engine Effect" but I think that trains are pretty neat. Apparently, when I was a toddler my dad went well out of his way to drive across railway crossing in the event that a train would be crossing, because I would start cackling with joy like a maniac.
I have been taking trains since I can remember. I've always like trains.
Some notable train rides have been
- Coming home from Wangaratta with my family. It was dark outside but I remember having a good time. I had to take a toilet break at Seymour and I thought you had to leave the train to use the toilet and I was scared that the train would leave without me. I don't really remember if I ever made it to the toilet but I didn't miss the train.
- Riding the whole Frankston line for the first time. I was going somewhere on the Mornington Peninsuila but I could only get picked up in Mornington. Anyway, I rode the gauntlet that was "Stopping all stations to Frankston", including those between South Yarra and Caufield, all 27 of them. It was a lot. For some reason, I remember riding home far more clearly, probably because I was dreading the trip the entire time because I knew how frustrating it was.
Anyway, I'm gonna review some random train stations I've recently been to.
The recently updated Coburg station? It's so nice.
From the train, you might just see Coburg station as two platforms up in the sky, but it's so much more. I was at the station last Thursday when it was 15 degrees and bucketing rain, and I was so happy to see a waiting room that was heated and had seats for me to warm up in. They also had bathroom access from this waiting room, which I couldn't access when I visited. I imagine they were equally nice though.
Each platform has two lifts to provide Wheelchair and other stair-resistant patrons access to the station, and I gotta say, two lifts per platform is very generous of them. The stairs are equally spacious. There's a perpendicular bunch of steps before splitting parallel in both directions to create space for peak time travelers, which is neat.
My favourite part, though, is the water basins available on the platforms. There's a small basin, about 15 - 20 cm diameter available on both platforms with a drinking fountain. This is so nice. Any means of water hydration is welcome, and it's super welcome when the water is this refreshing. My favourite part is that the basin is only a metre off the ground, meaning that young kids also have access to the basin. I love this.
I know the back entrance is still currently under construction, but if they finish it up and make it similar to the elevated stations after Caufield on the Dandenong line, I think we'll be in for a treat.
To my surprise, Cheltenham station is incredibly similar to Coburg station. This does make sense as both stations were massively overhauled by the Level Crossing Removal Project but it is a bit strange and a little sobering to see a "standardised" station across all of Melbourne. But hey, at least the standard treats the passenger pretty well.
The rail line for Cheltenham is underground, and it harbours 3 platforms, two for direct travel and one for limited express. Like Coburg, there are four lifts, two for platforms 1 and 2 and two for platform 3. Logically I thought this made little sense as the distribution for the direct travel was less than the limited express but then I realised that during peak hour everyone would be scrambling for that limited express to get to the City. I still think it is cool that they have four lifts and not just two.
I did not take the stairs but from what I saw it was a bit of a walkabout to get to the end of them, with the top of the stairs at the very back of the station. It might split into two stairs when heading to the platform just like in Coburg, but I was in a rush and I couldn't see. Someone tell me if it does. Sorry.
I will say that the elevators are incredibly sound-proof. When I was in there the blaring train horn was a good 20db lower. That was nice if not interesting.
Once you travel above ground things are very similar to Coburg. They have a waiting room as well, and while I didn't have time to sit in and feel its vibe it did look cosy, and a little larger than Coburg's, probably with toilet access there too. They did have designated Myki gates, which I thought was strange for a station so far away from the CBD, but I guess Cheltenham is a limited express stop.
Outside the station you have some beautiful sites. You've got some outdoor seating next to bike racks to lock up your bike. Any bike racks at a station are welcome so I do wholeheartedly appreciate it. It does look like security is well monitored for these bike racks but if you're still cautious about losing your bike they do have devoted secure bike parking close nearby.
Like Coburg they're still finishing the works above ground but it's cool to imaging the outdoor space that will be available once it is finished.
So all in all, a pretty good station. Very accessible and caters for its large volumes of commuters quite well. If you were still worried about the vibes not being quite right, do not worry because the cemetery is still nearby.
South Kensington is probably one of the worst stations I've ever been a part of. There's incredibly limited access to the platforms. On the Platform 1 side you have to exit right next to the BLARING train horn. There's a tonne of ways that this station ticks me off.
You feel incredibly unsafe. The platform is so thin you could feel the wind blow you straight onto the tracks. The express Werribee trains passing through don't help either. Neither do the V-Lines or Sunbury trains expressing through at swift speeds. That's right, this station is so trash even the SUNBURY line gives you a miss. How embarassing.
Westside Melbournians are so used to "Stopping all stations except South Kensington." I honestly don't know if this station has a future with the construction of the Metro Tunnel,
as the tunnel has further limited access to the station.
I know this station has been around for 130 years, but no one likes this station. While housing has popped up near this station pretty recently, this station still acts as if it was for labourers and worker, similar to General Motors and Paisley stations. Both General Motors and Paisley are now closed, even if Paisley has suburban areas around it now.
If South Kensington is still open, why hasn't it been upgraded? It SORELY needs it.
This image I stole from Wikipedia is from 2005 and the station actually looks pretty nice here. There's a little brick building on Platform 2 and the trees do make the view more bearable. Alas, they are no longer there.
As other stations around Melbourne have been upgraded, South Kensington has not. Will it stand the test of time? Will it stay mediocre? Until then, I will never mind skipping it.
These are some train stations. If you want me to review any particular station in the future please let me know.
Until next week!