The other day I had cause to catch a train from Gardenvale to Balaclava.
It’s interesting to compare these two stations.
They are both elevated over main roads. Both have shopping centres that have built up around them.
Both have connecting street-based public transport.
Parts of the platform are also quite narrow. Apart from additional Myki readers on the outbound platform, it looks like no major works have been done here for many years, though the building on the citybound side was rebuilt following a fire in 2009.
Balaclava is three stations north – this station opened in 1859, and like many streets of the streets in the area is named for the Crimean War. It was my nearest station for much of my childhood, and I remember the old ugly pebble-mix building well.
But Balaclava has had major work done on it. Between 2012 and 2014, the entrances and buildings were entirely rebuilt, and parts of the platforms were widened. The station was upgraded to Premium (full-time staffed), filling a gap between full-time staffed stations, and there’s a coffee stand on the citybound side.
The old entrance ramps were replaced by DDA-compliant ramps, and stairs, and there is provision for future lifts.
Cleverly, there are Passenger Information Displays at street level to advise when the next train is expected. (Memo to self: go back with a real camera and get a proper photo.)
Even better: the tram stop below the station has been upgraded since I was last here, with accessible stops.
Unfortunately none of the trams on route 3/3a are low-floor, but some on route 16 are, benefiting those with prams, wheelchairs and luggage – as well as cutting stop dwell times. Over time, we can expect more low-floor trams to come into service. The bike lane along the platform is a nice touch too.
It’s good to see Balaclava get this investment. Apart from Prahran, it’s the line’s busiest station south of South Yarra, so access is important.
Perhaps it’s hardly surprising that the line’s busiest stations are all in the inner section: they have the best connecting services (mostly tram), and serve higher-density (and most likely less car-dependent) neighbourhoods. Note that of the top five, apart from Elsternwick, none have any parking!
So, Balaclava looks good. It’d be great to see similar upgrades at other stations around the network to achieve DDA-compliance, as we move towards a more accessible transport network.