Noble Park station and the first section of skyrail is open

For two weeks the Cranbourne/Pakenham line was shut between Westall and Dandenong, allowing construction crews to complete the ramps and connect the first section of skyrail to the line.

It re-opened on Thursday. I and other stakeholders got a preview on Wednesday, but we weren’t allowed to take photos inside (because construction work around the station was still proceeding apace, so they didn’t want anybody distracted by their phone or camera).

So I went back on Thursday afternoon to see it in action. After all, what is a station without trains and passengers?

If you’re travelling outbound, the line starts to rise after Sandown Park station, to go over Corrigan Road, and then over Heatherton Road. The two tracks diverge as they approach Noble Park station with its island platform, but this has also been done to maximise light and rain below, to help future vegetation growth.

View towards Sandown Park at new Noble Park station

The view from the train is certainly better than that in a below-ground level trench/cutting.

View from train on skyrail

There are barriers along the tracks that prevent you seeing anything of ground-level at close range, though it appears not all of these are in place yet. This is the view over Heatherton Road.

View over Heatherton Road, Noble Park

Noble Park station has an island platform, designed to cope with the new 7-car High Capacity Metro Trains when they come into service next year. There seems to be provision for extending the platforms for future 10-car trains, but this will come later.

Platform at new Noble Park station

The wraparound structure is quite impressive, providing good weather cover along part of the platform at the southeast end — though there’s plenty of ventilation in it, so it’ll be interesting to see how well it deals with Melbourne’s diagonal (sometimes near-horizontal) rain.

Citybound train arrives at new Noble Park station

Some of the structure is wood, which gives it a warm appearance. The top of it includes transparent plastic-like sections which let the light in, and move about slightly in the breeze, a bit like sections of the Southern Cross station roof. Apparently they wanted to avoid glass for safety reasons — perhaps weight too.

Outbound train at new Noble Park station

Train departs new Noble Park station

Beyond the end of the wraparound roof, there is less cover — more is being installed, but at the moment much of the platform is out in the open.

New Noble Park station

Apparently this is some kind of architectural flourish. It’s unclear if it’s actually useful for anything.

New Noble Park station

At the northwest end of the platform is this structure, which is contains an emergency exit down to street level.

Emergency exit at new Noble Park station

The escalators are in place, but not yet operational. Lifts and stairs are being used between the platform level and the concourse.

Escalators not working yet at new Noble Park station

Escalators not working yet at new Noble Park station

The concourse is still a work in progress, but is functional. Fare gates (the newer fast Vix design) are installed.

Concourse at new Noble Park station

Concourse at new Noble Park station

The view of the station from Mons Parade. Pedestrian access is currently limited to this side. As this diagram from PTV shows, it will open up to the other side (Douglas Street) later this month as work progresses. In the mean time, access is via the old pedestrian underpass.

New Noble Park station diagram (from PTV brochure)

New Noble Park station

From below, you can certainly hear the trains, though it’s not particularly noisy — certainly no worse than when they were at ground level. Hopefully there will be a proper study comparing the volume of ground/above/below.

After leaving Noble Park, the line goes down to nearly street level, goes over the Mile Creek, then starts to rise again as it approaches Chandler Road.

Note the track structure, which is designed to absorb vibration and noise.

View towards Yarraman at new Noble Park station

View from Mons Parade near new Noble Park station

The bridge over Chandler Road almost looks like it could have been standalone, but obviously it made sense to do it with the other two crossing removals in one project. From this angle it looks steep, but presumably meets the 2% gradient standard — it doesn’t feel step when you’re actually in the train.

Skyrail bridge over Chandler Road

Either side of the skyrail are Sandown Park and Yarraman stations — destined to remain their drab selves, alas.

Yarraman Station

But Noble Park? I think it looks good.

It’s not complete yet. Works will continue, including bus replacements right through from Caulfield to Dandenong after 8pm each night from Sunday to Thursday next week.

The Noble Park section of skyrail is the least controversial, thanks to most of it being a reasonable distance from residential properties — an exception being at least one gentleman who was eligible to have his property acquired, but chose not to take the option, and continues to complain about the project.

This first section of completed skyrail will be the litmus test. The government has shown they can deliver on crossing removals, a new station that looks and works pretty well, and fewer (but not zero) rail disruptions to do it.

But can they also deliver on the promise of more open space, structures that don’t get constantly tagged, and privacy for residents?

And can they convince people that overall it’s been a good project, before the November election? Time will tell.

  • PTV information and brochure on the opening of the new Noble Park station
  • The Coalition’s plan from 2014 proposed removing 4 out of the 9 crossings. It wouldn’t have removed any of the crossings around Noble Park, but it would have included planning and early works.
  • The Labor Government continues to push the line of “more trains more often” being possible once all nine crossings are removed. They’ll need to be held to this, especially given the horrendous peak hour crowding on the line. It’s unclear if this could include the Dandenong to Cranbourne section, given it’s still got single track.
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22 Replies to “Noble Park station and the first section of skyrail is open”

  1. Ilove the skyrail design but I really hope the government keeps to its word and makes sure the space underneath is not neglected or vandalised.

  2. Great summary and photos of the (almost) completed project. Thanks Daniel.
    PS. I agree with Phil, especially his use of the word “vandalised” in place of “tagged”.

  3. Tim-

    There’s a third track at Oakleigh and at Westall, though apparently the Oakleigh third line is due to be removed soon.

  4. David, why is the third track at Oakliegh to be removed? They have just replaced the overhead wiring on all three tracks. Mad to remove that flexibility too.

    TIM: Further to what David said, you could almost say, the section between Springvale and Westall has a third track too.

    I like the project. Being a user of the railway for most of my life, and living using Noble Park and Sandown Park in the 80s, it sure is a change to what I am familiar with. Although it is a good change for sure.

    Does anybody know when the Clayton one will have its turn?
    That one looks in a greatly advanced stage, and I trust will be the next one to open, perhaps before Easter? The Murrumbeena section has a fair bit to go yet.

  5. The Yarraman end looks like such a wasted opportunity to straighten out platform 1 and have a straighter route to the start of the ramp, although some parking spaces would be lost.

    The overhead wiring has not been replaced through Oakleigh yet, although they are clearly preparing to put up more of the masts soon. I think it is also likely that the third track space under the Warrigal Rd bridge is the likely location of the shared path as part of the Caulfield-Yarraman bike trail.

  6. “โ€ฆat least one gentleman who was eligible to have his property acquired, but chose not to take the option, and continues to complain about the project.”

    There’s a story there I have missed, I would guess?

  7. Really interesting. I don’t like concrete flyovers, be they road or rail. They are so ugly. Ok, I will wear that they are necessary at times, but really, they should be avoided.

  8. It’s good to see some more new infrastructure being built, but I wonder about the alignments at either end of some of the viaducts. Why would they build the easements on curves so it takes up the entire width of the corridor? This will make quadruplicating the line extremely difficult, and that kind of expansion will probably be needed sooner rather than later.

    It’ll be interesting to see how the occasional Gippsland freight and V/line passenger service will handle the rollercoaster grades. V/locities will likely cope OK, but the N-class are so sluggish in their performance I doubt they’ll be able to keep track speed along the section. With nowhere to overtake (or be overtaken) the line capacity will probably remain the same as before.

  9. Good snapshot Daniel, thanks.

    Positives: planning & construction timeframe. Off-the-scale good. Political courage. Design standards. If we must have concrete viaducts, it and the one just finished on the new north-west metro in Sydney are good looking beasts.

    Negatives: continues the expensive Australian trend of station monumentalism. (Some of the best suburban railways in the world – Zurich, Munich, Stockholm – have just platforms, weather shelter and simple ramps, whether at grade or in a trench or on a viaduct, unless it’s a main interchange. Think what else in transit we could invest in instead). Also, all work on core rail corridors should be planned to accommodate, not preclude, third or four tracks.

  10. The Caulfield-Dandenong Skyrail spans are nicer than those of the Mernda extension.

    Station monumentalism has a long tradition in Australia, rather than just being a trend. There is the famous Mark Twain quote about Maryborough station having a town attached (rather than the station being attached to the town) from the late 19th Century.

    Grade separated stations are also going to be more complicated because of the need to provide more complicated access to the station and elevated stations need more deliberate weather protection because they have less automatic weather protection.

    Skyrail has been designed with an additional pair of tracks in mind. Between Clayton and Noble Park there is space on the southern side of the line (including at the 2012 rail under grade separation at Springvale). Between Oakleigh and Caulfield the existing reserve is narrower and so any additional tracks would involve land acquisition (with or without Skyrail, which is not obstructing extra tracks).

  11. I believe that the Caulfield-Hughesdale section of Skyrail will open before the stations on it because the ends of Skyrail will probably not take as long as the station access because everything directly bellow the platforms has to be started from scratch after the track through and (in the case of Murrumbeena and Carnegie) existing ground level platforms of the stations are removed.

    I suspect there will be weeks of Skyrail open but stations closed.

  12. Tom, according to the LXRA’s Building Five New Stations factsheet (which I can’t locate on this week’s re-designed LXRA website), temporary staircases will be constructed at Carnegie and Murrumbeena. This will allow the stations to open while the permanent stairs, escalators and lifts are constructed. Alternative arrangements will be made for those who can’t use stairs.

  13. I am in Bangkok as I am reading this right now, and I can say that the city is a far cry from what it was on my last visit some 15 years ago where it was virtually all traffic based. Bangkok now have a growing metro system. While the MRT runs underground, the BTS and Airport Rail Link run above ground with step-free access to the trains and stations.

    Seeing the first few photos reminds me of it. Also interesting here where they have kilometre-long elevated walkways above road and road intersections that connects shopping centres with the train stations (in contrast with Singapore which has kilometre-long underground walkways).

  14. Speaking about the gentleman who was eligible to sell his property to the government but chose not to…

    I wonder if it was rail under road, would his property have been compulsorily acquired seeing that the trench would take up more space on either side compared to rail over road?

  15. The third track at Oakleigh is being removed, partly at least, to allow for the construction of the shared use footpath on the south of the lines from Galbally reserve Hughesdale to Oakleigh station — a missing half kilometre of the “continuous bike path”. With magnificent ineptitude LXRA will construct a bike path that removes a rail line and ends on the wrong side of the rail lines, forcing cyclists to dismount and walk through the crowded station underpass at Oakleigh, ride through the commuter car park, then rejoin the existing bike path on the north side of the lines. This is apparently “best practice” and the various “dismount and walk” sections and “ride through car park” sections can be green washed as a “continuous bike path”.

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