With our local crossing at Bentleigh gone, it’s rather wonderful that the angst of further accidents is gone, and crowds no longer get stuck at the railway gates every second day…
Another benefit is that train users get a brand new shiny station.
But with the wet weather this week we’re able to judge how well that new station deals with the rain.
The entrance is pretty good – shelter along the street is reasonably well aligned with the nearby shops. In fact it’s very pleasing to have the station as an integrated part of the streetscape, rather than breaking it up as it used to.
While before there was a long uncovered walkway into the station, now you walk straight into the concourse, and there’s continuous cover down the steps (or in the lift) down to the platform.
And then it falls down.
At McKinnon and Ormond the sections of platform closest to the entrance are under the road, providing a fair degree of cover. There’s more shelter down the platform, though it’s not continuous; there are substantial gaps.
However at Bentleigh, the only cover close to the stairs/lift is fairly small.
There’s a lot more cover at the northern end of the platform, but the only way to get there is to brave a long section of uncovered platform, or the even longer uncovered ramp from the concourse — which in dry conditions is very useful for spreading people along the platform, by the way, far more useful than at the other stations where the ramp doubles back.
So you have the old effect of many people huddling near the entrance from the rain, and thus concentrating on just one or two carriages of a six carriage train — not much better than the old station.
(All this applies to platforms 1 and 2, which are the most commonly used. Platform 3 seems to have slightly less cover, but nowhere near as many people use it.)
Even where the platforms are covered, modern designs mean there’s a gap between the edge of the roof and the train when it arrives. If it’s pouring with rain at the time, you’re still going to get wet.
Why not cover the platforms completely?
If you’re rebuilding the station anyway, it would only be an incremental cost to have rain cover right along the platform.
The benefits are obvious — by providing shelter and shade all the way along, it encourages crowds to spread along the platform, decreasing boarding times, and more evenly distributing people along the train.
It may also help with PM peak alighting times, as in heavy rain, people don’t pause in the train doorway to find their umbrella. It would also reduce the instances of people running on slippery surfaces to avoid the rain.
It’s helped at Richmond, where full platform shelters were retrofitted (at a cost of $7.28 million), and is provided at our busiest stations Southern Cross and Flinders Street.
Granted, no suburban station is that busy, but if the benefits are numerous and the cost is minimal, then why not?
- PTUA called for all-over platform cover on the Dandenong line “sky rail” stations — as well as for all to be upgraded to Premium status