Last the weekend I got to take a quick look at the recently opened new stations at Mentone (opened 20th July) and Cheltenham (opened 16th August). Previously they’d been outside my 5km radius, but that recently lifted to 25km.
Click any of these photos to view them larger.
The train line goes under Balcombe Road, with Mentone station just beyond being just below ground level.
Further towards Frankston the line quickly comes back up to street level, with a pedestrian-only crossing just to the south. The designers have missed an opportunity to provide southern exits off the platform similar to Gardiner station – perhaps a consequence of providing Mentone with fare gates.
There are stairs, elevators and ramps to the concourse – the latter (as at Bentleigh) helping to distribute passengers along the platform – this could be important at peak times, including school peaks, as there are a number of big schools in the vicinity.
For those who haven’t seen it, the new standard for signage is present on the platforms and concourse. Fewer logos and serifs – and note the Frankston line green on the station signs.
There’s a waiting room on the concourse, as well as toilets, and a bus departures screen – not yet working. The back of this shows train departures for people entering the station.
Being what used to be called a Premium station, there are fare gates and customer service staff from first to last train.
I find the concourse entrance specifically very aesthetically pleasing. The sign above the fare gates, the patterns on the ground and brickwork underneath the customer service window.
Above the entrance there’s a high roof – I know from a similar structure at Bentleigh this doesn’t provide much cover from Melbourne’s angled rain, so it’ll be interesting to see this in action.
The station concourse is not adjacent to Balcombe Road – it’s further south. The trench is dull grey like they all are these days, though sections of it are already becoming more colourful thanks to unofficial additions.
The concourse is actually above street level, so steps and ramps get you to Como Parade East or Como Parade West. Some locals were already using this as a shortcut – the old station had an underpass with (non-DDA-compliant) ramps to cross the line.
On the western side, there are still works going on, but this will link directly into the Mentone shopping centre.
In fact there are still some works happening right around the station precinct, including a proposed plaza on the northern end, but overall it looks good.
However the bus interchange hasn’t been moved, and is several hundred metres up the road – so if you have a tight connection, I hope you’re a fast runner.
And – apart from a southern entrance off the platforms – there’s a missed opportunity to join up some of the pathways on the western side of the line.
To the north of the station is a shared path along the railway line towards Cheltenham.
Alongside the line is this trench, apparently designed to deal with heavy rain events.
Midway between Mentone and Cheltenham is a ground-level pedestrian-only crossing (upgraded?) – and further along is the Latrobe Street level crossing, presumably not likely to be removed anytime soon now.
A Cheltenham to Mentone skyrail would have put paid to this, but it was not to be. Thankfully it’s only a minor road. It does appear some new traffic calming measures (which also help people cross the street) have been installed.
On approach to Cheltenham is sign with its official code of CTM which appeared to be stuck there with tape. I’m guessing something more permanent will be used at some stage.
I also presume this is not an official art installation. Marcus Wong identified it: it’s a dust deposition gauge (eg a monitoring device).
The entrance to Cheltenham has a similar style to Mentone. But unlike Mentone where it connects directly into the shopping strip, at Cheltenham the entrance is down a pathway, midway between Charman Road and Park Road – the train line now goes under both roads.
Interestingly there’s an emergency staircase and gate from platform 3, but not appears to be secured, not for regular use. The focus on a single entrance/exit for these new staffed stations is not surprising given the recent focus on including fare gates.
While the main Charman Road bus stops remain close to the station, just south of the path to the entrance, the Park Road bus stops (serving route 822) remain frustratingly distant. It would be good to see them moved closer as the works finish up.
The station concourse includes a screen for buses/trains, and there are lifts and stairs down to the three platforms.
Three platforms? Yes – the track layout allows trains from the City to terminate here and head back inbound.
For some reason however the layout doesn’t allow trains from Frankston to terminate here, for instance during works or disruptions. A assume they’ll aim to still use Mordialloc (to the south) or Moorabbin (to the north) for that.
The main platform is nice and wide.
If you compare these designs to the 4 year old stations at Bentleigh/McKinnon/Ormond – they’re all similar in that they’re below street level.
But it’s good to see the designs have been refined a bit along the way. The strong branding above the entrance, the newer style of signage, the varying patterns in walls and floors, the displays showing live bus departures, the bigger screens on the platforms… and the less of an abundance of shades of grey in the colour scheme. It all helps.
As the recent RACV stations survey found, the station upgrades we get when level crossings are removed do make things better for passengers. It’s a reminder that motorists aren’t the only beneficiaries.