Suburban Rail Loop: station locations confirmed

Yesterday the State government announced funding for early works for the Suburban Rail Loop (SRL). Being a huge project, even early works are pricey – it comes out at $2.2 billion.

At the same time, they’ve announced more detail on the station locations for Stage One. This map shows them.

SRL Stage one - tunnel route and stations map

So the stations will be at:

  • Southland (in Cheltenham, but not at Cheltenham station) – and seems likely to prompt Frankston line timetable changes so express trains stop there
  • Clayton – interchange to Cranbourne/Pakenham and V/Line trains
  • Monash University – north side of campus, which apparently is where they expect the next stages of campus development to be.
  • Glen Waverley – the existing station will need an upgrade or rebuild due to very narrow platforms
  • Burwood/Deakin – name to be determined – Deakin University has multiple campuses, and there’s already a Burwood station
  • Box Hill – the northern terminus of Stage One, but with provision for Stage Two extension further north. Set to be a very busy interchange given the existing lines through there.

In an ideal world, the new stations would be directly below the existing ones and/or directly below the major traffic generators they serve. It appears they’ve varied this a bit to make construction less impossibly difficult. A high quality pedestrian environment will be key to making this work.

I’m told local buses networks in each area will be redesigned when the line opens. This makes sense. In many cases trips parallel to the line will switch to the train, so some bus routes should be reoriented to feed into the new stations.

However it’s unclear if existing major bus interchanges such as at Box Hill, Monash and Southland will be relocated.

They’re also looking at how the proposed Caulfield to Rowville light rail might connect with the line. (Yes, that idea is not dead!)

Remembering that SRL will be an entirely new independent line, there’s going to be a stabling yard at Heatherton at ground level, and there’ll be provision for extra stations to be added later somewhere around there (which I suspect would make a good urban renewal site) and potentially at Mount Waverley. Provision for a station meaning, in this case, a section dead straight level track long enough for platforms.

Stage Two (Box Hill to Airport) is away in the future, but works could start while Stage One is underway. The route beyond that still seems very vague, but I think is good opportunity to do some good urban planning and design new major western suburban centres around new stations, rather than just waste an opportunity by following the existing RRL line with barely any stations along the way.

Indeed, in the shorter term, the State Government’s terrific plan to build 12,000 social housing units is a reminder that urban planning and transport need to be done hand-in-hand. It would be a pretty poor outcome to place thousands of homes so far from jobs and education and services and good frequent public transport that all the residents have the burden of driving everywhere.

Suburban Rail Loop - route map as of 2020


There’s often talk about “city-shaping projects”. SRL is one that will shape the city in a positive way, enabling cross-suburban trips by public transport that are impractical or very time-consuming today by any mode.

All this is years away of course. Stage One works will start in 2022, but it could easily take until 2030 for it to open.

Meanwhile they will also need to progress other major rail projects – the Metro (1) tunnel is progressing, Airport Rail Link is long-anticipated, and other projects such as Melton electrification and Metro 2 will also be key as the city continues to grow.

And massive spending on SRL and other mega-projects is not an excuse to neglect local bus services, which desperately need service upgrades now, and will still be important even after SRL opens, to help residents reach the new stations.

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.

20 replies on “Suburban Rail Loop: station locations confirmed”

Have they given any indication as to why it doesn’t continue past Cheltenham through to Sandringham? Obviously it would be technically challenging due to the proximity to the bay, but if they are pushing that it links “every major train line” so it seems odd to me to leave Sandringham out of the plan, especially because it’s almost a straight line from Cheltenham. And given the massive pricetag of the overall project, whats an extra couple of billion?

If they have to rebuild glen Waverly anyway why would they detour so far east rather than drawing a nearly straight line between Monash and Box Hill?

Also it seems kind of ridiculous that in many parts of Melbourne we have stations every 2km or so and this new super expensive line will only have 6 stations very spread out. If you want people to stop driving (which is the only way this project makes sense) you need to have the stations a walk-able distance apart not just put them at junctions of existing stations which will do nothing to increase the catchment.

“The route beyond that still seems very vague, but I think is good opportunity to do some good urban planning and design new major western suburban centres around new stations, rather than just waste an opportunity by following the existing RRL line with barely any stations along the way.”

I’d love to see stations at Sunshine North, Keilor East, and Airport West with a connection through to the northern/eastern SRL stations AND the Airport link. But I will file this under “would be nice but unlikely to happen and this area will continue to be underserved by PT”.

Daniel, is it your understanding that the stage 1, 2 and 3 sections are all going to be built as essentially separate lines that just so happen to connect together, thus enabling the south/east segment to be built and opened as its own self functioning line until the other segments come online?

I’m also sad and perplexed that the line won’t extend the 4km extra to Sandringham. If we can get frequent, direct-route buses to Southland Station then it might not be so bad, but the current Southland bus stops are nowhere near the train station and trying to make that connection would be a nightmare.

On the subject of the Caulfield–Rowville light rail, my dad (who lives in Carnegie) got a robocall this week that he thought was trying to manufacture data that people support making that a “trackless tram” – lots of questions about how strongly he agrees or disagrees that the project should be built faster and at a lower cost etc.. I’m not sure if you’ve heard any rumours about that, but it would be interesting to hear about if you had.

Thanks for the post Daniel. As an Eastern suburbs resident (Croydon currently, soon to be Doncaster) this is exciting.

I think Harley is on the money with the technicial challenges being the reason Sandringham is not being connected, but it’d be nice to have them explain the decision. One imagines tunnels + sandy soil is not a good mix.

I wonder if they will have an underground pedestrian connection between the new stations and old stations. This would address the very valid concerns about pedestrian connectivity between the different lines. Ideally we want to see minimal distances required to connect between the loop and the older lines.

I wish Doncaster had been included in stage 1 because that area is crying out for a train connection. Currently its heavily reliant upon bus connections down the Eastern Freeway, which runs into congestion issues, or commuters have to drive to the closest station (normally Blackburn/Laburnum/Box Hill) driving parking congestion in local streets. But I appreciate they have to draw the line somewhere. One suspects they’re quite concerned about how much infrastructure work they’re doing in Melbourne and whether this will drive costs up due to skill and material shortages.

From the renderings, I’m hopeful that a light metro will be chosen (Singapore have a couple of good light metro lines). Light metro should be able to give good capacity and frequency at a lower cost base then our existing broad gauge trains which will hopefully allow for more of the project to be completed sooner rather than later.

In regards to tunnel to Sandringham, it still might be possible to have one as the station would not need to be too close to the bay and the ground conditions don’t appear to be the worst as there is less clay in the area. Another option could be to have a cut and cover under Bay road but that might cause some grief during the construction.

I am glad of the provision for a future extra station around Heatherton/Clarinda. I don’t know the area too well but am thinking it is a pubilc transport void and very car dependant. I know these projects take a long time, but it will be good to get it off the ground (or underground, in this case!), and hoping that the stage 1 terminus at Box Hill is built with provision for the tunnels to continue to Doncaster and beyond!

For the western leg, they are a bit off track trying to force it through Sunshine en route to Werribee, because that is basically just paralleling the MARL, and then would pass through industrial wasteland around Laveton North.

I think a western stage should be a proper loop, first going under the runway. then to Caroline Springs Square, Caroline Springs (Vline), Boundary Rd, Tarneit, Werribee Plaza and finally Werribee.

Thanks for this post. Anyone have thoughts and views on the fact that there are so few stops? You only need to look at that map to see how the stations on the older line are far more and far closer together. We know that optimally, a proper underground metro should have stations much closer to encourage walking and cycling too and from the stops.

Whilst you can argue that the SRL isn’t a real “metropolitan area metro”; it does have a number of “metro” characteristics including smaller trains, smaller stations, turn-up-and-go frequency, and being entirely underground. The smaller trains and therefore smaller underground stations would keep constructions costs much lower than say, the large Metro Tunnel stations or Sydney Metro stations. The would be more in line with the Copenhagen Metro.

Without knowing Melbourne too well, surely there are at least two areas between Cheltenham and Clayton that would benefit from an underground “metro” stop on the line?

Encouraging people to use the SRL to not only transfer between the historic train lines, but to also activate other neighbourhoods and encourage people to leave their car at home, by ensuring there are more stops throughout the SRL seems logical. If we’re going to spend $50 billion on a huge underground line, it should be more akin to a proper “metro” line with stops 1 – 2 km apart.

Wow so excited for this! 100% agree with the comment regarding buses and the need for improvement there. This is a great opportunity for the govt to see this as an integrated transport and city planning project.

“Anyone have thoughts and views on the fact that there are so few stops?”

I suspect that they want the line to be “fast” – connecting major centres/destinations with each other. It’s the only way that orbital service will be attractive. If the line had a station every 250m, it would be faster to route your journey via the CBD!
Something like light rail/tram/high quality bus service is better suited to serve local neighbourhoods between these major centres/destinations. More info here!

Questions is what is the minimal gap between stations and more so how many stops can you add before there’s too many stops making the overall journey from stage 1 end to end to be too slow.

For example the Monash stop imo should be the current Frearsons Oval (just moved the oval to the new expansion area or buy land elsewhere for it) simply because it’s smack bang behind the new Heart Hospital which easy health access for those who don’t/can’t drive is political wins and really a good location for every aspect of the campus both old and expansion area which the double win; alternatively have two stations in the Monash precinct.

Also while it tunnels under industrial and the tip around Moorabbin a big whatever, it’s long leg without stops so unless there’s plans to go 200km and have time saving factor as the marketing push than ideally a Clarinda station needs to be added, of course it has provision for one day when hell can be frozen and Clayton Tip can be used for housing then yeah station to be add too thanks.

As for the rest so after Monash adding stations is just going to require lots of land requisition however second Mt Waverley and Ashwood SRL station would also be nice if it’s possible.

Finally I too will join in the mob of boos.. the SRL definitely should’ve include the Sandy leg, with a stop somewhere in between because isn’t best practices in PT is all about accessibility *shrug emoji*.

That’s my two bob’s worth.

Good comments!

@AF, yes, stage 1 (Southland to Box Hill) will start service before stage 2 (Box Hill to Airport) opens.

Once stage 2 opens, the trains will run all the way from Southland to the Airport.

But it seems likely that beyond that will be a different service, with through passengers having to change trains. At least that’s what I’ve heard – it could be a decade before stage 2 is even under major construction, let alone open.

@Jessica, very interesting. The last I heard, Caulfield to Rowville was still intended to be light rail. (“Trackless Tram” is, of course, a guided bus.)

@Chris, certainly they are saying the station connections will be entirely within paid areas (eg you won’t have to exit to the street, then come back in), so it seems likely the will be mostly underground.

I agree, it’s a shame Doncaster wasn’t included in Stage 1 given no existing heavy rail access there.

@Paul, they’ve been very clear that the technology to be used will not be dependent on the existing heavy rail network.

@Stan, they’re very clearly focussing on longer orbital trips between existing centres, and want to meet particular travel time goals. But I agree it’s a shame a few more intermediate stops aren’t included – there are some pretty long gaps.

This is the first article I’ve seen on this to mention that there’s a Burwood station already, kilometres to the west of Deakin U. Since the planned new one is deep into EAST Burwood, why isn’t it called that on the diagrams ?

The Monash Uni site just looks strange — off campus and to the north. Its a kilometre at least from the university bus interchange, its on two minor roads through light industrial Notting hill business, the precise location seems to be on top of (underneath?) one of the Uni’s childcare centres, and it is a hell of a walk from almost all of the buildings on campus and the new heart hospital which are all central to south of the campus. The “apparently is where they expect the next stages of campus development to be” is a very vague statement that doesn’t seem to be based on any of the long range plans Monash has made available to staff. Is there any other info. available on why that location was chosen?

I think definitely to add to other posters comments that a station is needed between Cheltenham and Clayton in the Clarinda area, to service this large residental population and may also drive other forms of investment such as commercial and industrial in the area. The southland location of the Cheltenham Station is good and with a new relocated bus interchange at Southland will definitely boost public transport usage in the area.

Ideally the first stage also should have gone to at least to Heidelberg or Latrobe Bundoora in my view to service Doncaster, which is a public transport blackhole (besides bus services).

SRL is as much a land use project as a transport project hence the stations are located within proposed new precinct developments and focus is more around improving accessibility to the precincts. Hence the lack of intermediate stations

For the new Burwood/Deakin station, if it is going to be built on the land that will be vacated by Mount Scopus College (cnr Burwood Hwy/Station St), perhaps it could be named Scopus Station? Or after the Kindergarten (on the corner of Burwood Hwy/ Milford Ave), Stanton Station? (Disclaimer: I worked at Scopus for over a decade and the Kindergarten was named after my grandfather. )

Comments are closed.