The new Frankston station

The other day I went and took a look around the new Frankston station, upgraded last year by the Level Crossing Removal Authority alongside the nearby Skye Road level crossing removal, and in parallel with Vicroads upgrades to Young Street.

In a similar manner to Southern Cross, there’s been an extensive renovation and replacement of all the buildings, though it does not appear to have changed the basic platform/track layout.

Frankston originally opened in 1882. As you approach (by train) it appears the only structure left is the old signal box, dating back from 1922, the year that electric trains arrived. Apparently this is one of the last lever frame signal boxes on the network.

Frankston signal box

Frankston station has two main platforms, with arriving trains from Melbourne alternating between them. As it’s a terminus station, this allows some recovery time before they head back towards the City.

Frankston station, looking north along the platform

New landscaping, seats and shelters were part of the upgrade, along with water taps – good idea!

Frankston station, looking south along the platform

The new main station building is impressive, with one of those high roofs that unfortunately provides very little shelter along the platform when it’s raining. It’s also got a waiting room and toilets accessible from the platform.

You could argue that the station has two and a half platforms. Platform 3 is at the southern end of platform 2, with the Stony Point diesel sprinter trains terminating next to the Frankston line electric trains from Melbourne.

Trains to Melbourne and Stony Point waiting at Frankston

Large new LCD screens have been installed along the platforms. These seem quite readable, even in bright sunlight.

Passenger Information Display on the platform at Frankston

As you exit the station, you’ll see a big screen showing bus departure times – three screens worth (a lot of buses connect here), though it doesn’t tell you which bus leaves from which bay – it would be handy to see this added, though I suspect it may not be in the current data feeds.

Bus departures board, Frankston station exit

The flip side of that sign shows train departures as you enter. There are eight fare gates, and it was good to see that on a quiet New Years Day afternoon, these were closed and staffed – not much point in having them otherwise.

Fare gates at Frankston

In the station foyer is also a kiosk, booking office, two Myki vending machines, a Myki quick top-up machine and network status board.

Once again, the high roof is impressive, but I wonder how much shelter it provides when raining. (On the platform there is an enclosed waiting room, though for most passengers, heading towards Melbourne, it’s likely the train will be waiting for them when they arrive at the station.)

The main entrance too is visually impressive. I have no problem with this at all – the station should be a local community landmark. As long as it’s functional!

Main entrance to Frankston station

The pedestrian crossing adjacent to the station exit gives access across Young Street. Silly me, I didn’t look to see if there was a list of bus routes and which bays they use, given the screen inside the station doesn’t show them.

Just to the south there’s some creative wayfinding to help people find their way towards the beach, via Wells Street.

To The Beach - wayfinding in Frankston

Unlike the new skyrail stations on the Dandenong line, no indications they’re going to put up an Instagram-worthy sign with the official three letter station code… not surprising given it’s “FKN”, though I’d bet it’d be popular as a photo opportunity!

Either side of the station entrance/pedestrian crossing (but mostly to the north) are numerous bus bays. There were claims during the upgrade works that the design wasn’t actually sufficient for buses.

Young Street bus terminus, Frankston station

Each bus bay has printed timetables as well as screens.

Bus departure information display at Young Street bus terminus, Frankston station

The bus shelters have been criticised for their lack of capacity – they look like the standard design, and there’s one per bay. One could argue this is not sufficient shelter at peak times. There certainly seems to be plenty of space to install some more or larger shelters if they’re needed.

Young Street bus terminus, Frankston station

I also wonder how they’ve prioritised which buses are where. In the photo above, that’s the 788 in the distance – the main route to the Mornington Peninsula, and one of the busier bus routes. It’s a long way from the station entrance, and you won’t want to miss it, with a wait of 40 to 70 minutes between services.

Quibbles with bus bays and shelter aside, overall I think the upgrade looks good. It’s a more pleasant environment, and hopefully more efficient at moving people through and around the station.

And hopefully there’s plenty of capacity in the bus interchange to allow a big increase in bus frequencies, to better connect the surrounding suburbs to their new improved railway station.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

17 replies on “The new Frankston station”

Overall I’d say it’s a poor and unfinished effort. One of those projects where one could argue they did too little or they did too much. Some have complained that the large hole in the roof lets in the rain. There is no obvious bus information for those leaving the station (there is something around the corner but it’s not well placed and it lacks even a network map as stations like Sunshine have). Much of the bus real time information does not work – often showing just scheduled times not actual times. Some bus routes still leave from bays a long way south of the station since the Young St situation does not appear to be fully resolved (you’d allow 5 min walk, 10 min for the less mobile). There is poor permeability/visibility between large parts of platforms 1 and 2 – and that’s essential when the next city train could depart from either platform. While not the case when you took the photo the displays of the next train don’t always appear in order, meaning that the normal 10 minute frequency is not immediately obvious. And the restricted scope meant that the most urgent upgrade of all – a second entrance at the Beach St / Bayside Shopping Centre end – was not done.

Sometimes you accept the good since the great will never happen. But in this case the benefits are marginal. What was done was poor value and if funding wasn’t available to do the job properly then it should have instead gone to upgrading a station more deserving of an upgrade – eg Broadmeadows.

Can confirm the track layout wasn’t changed at all, which mystifies me given the plans to electrify to Baxter in the coming years. Though conceivably the plan would be to terminate every second train at Frankston and continue every other train to Baxter, giving Baxter a frequency of 20 minutes during the day (a big improvement on the current service).

The station building is impressive, though I wonder about some of the design choices. It doesn’t provide enough shelter given the huge size of the roof. Also from memory the rail employees at the ticket counter have to contend with direct sunlight coming into their windows in the late afternoon.

The bus bays seem like a bit of a compromise and don’t feel like they work as well as the old ones for bus passengers. Are there fewer shelters for waiting bus passengers than there were before the upgrade?

I suspect bus routes with high frequencies are given priority in terms of proximity to the station exit, though from memory the bus bay for route 772 (hourly) is closer to the exit than the 788 bus to Portsea (sub-hourly).

On the positive side, Young Street has been made much more pedestrian-friendly.

There weren’t any upgrades done to the Fletcher Road side of Frankston station. I suspect this might be done as part of the Baxter electrification.

When Skye/Overton Road overpass was built, a bike path that runs parallel to the train line was constructed. It currently runs between just north of the Boonong Avenue (corner Wells Rd) , south to Cricklewood Avenue (corner Dandenong Road East). I’m hoping the plan is to extend the bike path that runs parallel to the train line so that it meets up with Kananook station in the north (and even better, continue north to the Seaford Road path), and extend it south through Frankston station on the Fletcher Road side to connect with the Baxter Trail.

My own experiences of the station (everyday commuter through Frankston):

– the high roof does provide good rain cover, but I’ve only seen a few wet mornings so far, and none with any wind
– the bright white colour of the station building is blinding on a sunny day
– one or more of the toilets are usually out of service

In terms of the actual station design, I still prefer it. The street is much more open and cleaner than it was and I find it easier to walk places after leaving the station. The scramble crossings are great!

But the biggest problem for mine is that the 775 and 782 buses still leave from near the corner of Young and Playne St, where they were moved during station construction. They were supposed to be outside the station proper, and signs and timetables were installed, but the rumour was that the design of the bays didn’t allow enough room for buses to swing in and out, so every second one had to be removed. The signage seems to have been removed, so I guess this is never happening.

For me, the main issue here is that they didn’t update the timetables to allow a couple of extra minutes to get to the bus. the 16:29 train from Flinders St, while scheduled to arrive at Frankston at 17:28, usually arrives around 17:35. Getting to the 17:40 775 bus was already tight (as we all know, bus departure times are more guidelines), now its a couple of minutes tougher. At least one day a week I miss the bus.

(I expect this is worse if you’re not as physically mobile as I am).

I have asked, but PTV, LXRA, VicRoads and Frankston Council all point the finger at someone else, so I’m not expecting this to change anytime soon.

I was also pretty disappointed in this result, and the Young St improvements. It’s definitely an improvement, and just building a nicer and more open station makes a world of difference to your arrival in Frankston. But take a moment and compare the results to the initial station renders, which showed a grand architectural statement, a huge and stunning station, richly complemented by abundant greenery and a beach aesthetic. It was the result of a competition too, which had some really interesting results. Instead of transforming Frankston we got a much smaller and less impressive canopy, new white boxy station buildings and a general clean-up and improvement. That’s great but its not the radical transformation promised.

Similarly the Young St renders showed what looked like sandstone, with lots of new planting, greenery and exciting pedestrian spaces. That all seems to have been dialled down, though the increase in trees is certainly welcome. I don’t know why they insist on those ugly palms though, they provide no shade and look terrible, though that’s just my preference…

Overall its an improvement, but we’d been promised a transformation and I was really hopeful we’d see one.

The ever growing mishmash of PTV/Metlink style and Transport for Victoria style signage across the network is really starting to bug me.

Agreed about another entrance not being added at Beach St. There are few things so annoying as knowing you could’ve made a train if you didn’t have to walk an extra 200m to the only entrance at the other end of the station. Bonus points if the exit at your destination requires you to walk those 200m back again.

I’d only give the development a B. As stated, lack of shelter at the station is a problem. The new myki readers don’t tell you the balance on your card, which I find annoying although other people may not care.

The bus services are problematical ( although, that is not the new station’s fault). Mt Eliza and Mornington are serviced by 4 different routes, each of which only runs hourly, most of the time. Four buses an hour is a pretty decent level of service to Mt Eliza and the central part of Mornington. Less so, if you live at Mt Martha or the eastern parts of Mornington, and only 1 of those 4 hourly bus services goes to your actual destination.

These buses should be roughly evenly spaced around the hour, but they are not. They should depart from the same stop at Frankston . They don’t. The stops are not even adjacent. You can get off a train, see a 788 bus down the end, walk down there and the driver might tell you “I’m not going for 25 minutes”, and meanwhile a 781 to Mt Martha via Mt Eliza and Mornington quickly comes and goes , three stops down the road. Or a 784 or a 785. Annoying.

There should be a big map of bus destinations. There should be a big sign showing which route stops where.

Travelling to Frankston from Mornington is worse. There is usually, roughly, 4 buses an hour from downtown Mornington, they depart in 4 different directions from three different main stops, at an irregular schedule. It’s harder than it should be, to catch a bus in a timely fashion from Mornington to Frankston.

Buses from anywhere in the Mornington Peninsula Shire, to Frankston, should stop at a set-down stop which is close to the station, because a large proportion of the passengers on those buses ( inbound to Frankston ) probably want to transfer to a train. They don’t.

And then there is the ridiculous situation with the late start on Sundays. Again, it is not the new station’s fault.

It’s ridiculous that in summer, with the sun blazing away, you are catching “night bus” services, with a completely different route number, at 6:30 in the morning, because the first normal bus, with a notmal route number, isn’t until after 8 AM.

@Peter – “displays of the next train don’t always appear in order”
During normal peak timetable operations, a mix of stopping and express trains depart from Frankston, and the frequency is often better than 10 minutes. Express trains arrive at Flinders Street 10 minutes faster than stoppers. If your destination is Caulfield, Malvern, South Yarra, Richmond or the CBD stations, you’re better off getting an express service, even if it counterintuitively means watching a stopper depart, and waiting 5 minutes until the next express. Is it possible that Frankston train departures are shown in the order in which they are due to arrive at Flinders Street, rather than the order in which they depart?

@Michael Bell – thanks. The times I’ve visited have been off-peak or Sunday mornings with no express services running.

I use Frankston Station and a connecting bus service quite regularly for work.

Overall I like it. The community feel and the greater pedestrianization of Young Street is definitely positive, and the station generally looks more inviting. However, the biggest issues for me are (in order of importance):

1) Lack of a second exit/entrance point at the northern end.
This would make a huge difference to those connecting to additional services. That extra 100m-200m being imposed on people could easily be avoided.

2) Lack of/inadequate bus shelter.
Is there a law that states bus shelters have to look like an IKEA flat pack? I feel as though once the new canopy trees mature this may solve some shade problems, though the wet weather problem eludes designers somehow. Currently, I find the best way to avoid a drenching is to wait on the western side of Young Street.

3) Toilets.
These shouldn’t be that hard to design. When I use a bathroom I want to touch the least amount of surfaces as possible (ideally zero!), and if locks are required then they should actually work!

4) This isn’t an issue with the station, but increased frequencies and separated bus lanes are required NOW! To those policy makers and people with power who comb blogs like this, please treat buses with the respect they deserve. Why are bus travelers left waiting on the side of a road not knowing if their bus is actually coming? Why can a few cars hold up a bus of 50+ people? These real, everyday problems need to be addressed NOW!

The roadway widths on Young Street were intentionally narrow to reduce speeds and reduce pedestrian crossing distances, all good things except Vicroads own standards say those are inappropriate treatments for a bus route (as the busses have a hard time squeezing though the narrow points). As originally built the busses did have trouble fitting through even with the forgiving kerbing. For comparison of the old and new bus shelters there are slightly fewer seats in the new layout, and fewer (none at all?) covered sections without seats, so it has been a reduction in shelter for rainy days.

I just don’t understand why they have not prepared for both tracks to be extended through to Baxter. I thought the days of installing single track was relatively over? I understand that it is only single track currently, but surely they would just duplicate the track to Baxter at the same time as the electrification?

@Harley Baxter to Frankston is about ten minutes one way. If they were penny pinching, they could run a service every half hour with a ten minute layover at Baxter, assuming the train has arrived right on time. Or maybe they’ll add a passing loop at the new Langwarrin station which would be about 4kms either side of Frankston and Baxter. This could allow a 20 minute service, but isn’t desirable due to any cascading delays forcing alterations (ask anyone from Altona and they’ll tell you their frustrations about this method).

I can’t imagine how hot it’ll feel with all that concrete and asphalt with today’s weather. Hope they get that all under shelter some time in the future.

And speaking of rail and bus connection, I think Mernda station has set a benchmark to be followed by others. Plenty of space for buses and within close walking distance, not having to make commuters walking through a car park like in some stations.

@Harley @Daniel @Nick – The line will be duplicated, that what they are looking at doing as well as the Electrification project. There won’t be any single track. There will be stations at Frankston East (around the hospital/university) and also Langwarrin.

There may be a third platform at Frankston, sidings demolished and moved to Baxter with Platform 1 being a terminating platform.

Using the toilets was very problematic. There was only one working toilet for a start, and I feel that the toilets would be very confusing for people. I didn’t know which buttons to press and in the end I had to ask one of the staff.
Overall, I would have expected better from the station designs. A second exit towards Young Street and the shopping centre would be great, as it would cut the walk all the way down to the southern exit. And yes, the bus interchange can be improved, more shelter and a shorter walk would be great.
On the good side… I like the landscape of the station, and there is plenty of information (e.g. on PIDs) on the platform and outside the station. There’s pedestrian crossings over to the other side of the road where the shops are.
I am fine for how Frankston station is now, and good effort to all the people to created it.

Those new style toilets are appearing everywhere.

I don’t know exactly what kind of political correctness problem they are designed to solve, but they are a fail. A large proportion of male users are just in and out of a quick slash with a minimum of complications and hygiene hazards, not wanting to deal with queueing, other people bad aim with #2s, vomit, dirty taps and very dirty and complicated door locks.

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