Station names vs suburb names

Ideally, station names should match suburb names. (And an opportunity to fix Glen Huntly vs Glenhuntly)

(Pic above: the 2021 version of the train map is starting to be rolled out in preparation for the 29th 31st January timetable change)

There’s a strong argument to name railway stations after the suburbs they serve. It helps as a wayfinding mechanism. You want to go to that suburb – you catch the train to that station.

There’s also an argument to stop messing with suburb boundaries where it means the names don’t match up. I recall being asked by someone coming out of Bentleigh station which way was it to Fairbank Road, Bentleigh. It’s far closer to Moorabbin station. But it’s technically in the suburb of Bentleigh because the boundary has been stretched all the way to Moorabbin.

In some cases, a precinct may end up being known by the station name, or at least known for being adjacent to the station, because it’s the most prominent landmark in the area. That seems to have happened to all the CBD stations. Even Southern Cross, despite the relatively recent pointless name change.

Will that happen with the Metro tunnel’s Anzac and Arden stations? We’ll see.

(Bus and tram stops also have names by the way. Often they are named after cross streets, but sometimes they use landmarks.)

Glenhuntly station

Fixing an error

A while back I lived in Glen Huntly (the suburb) and would catch the train from Glenhuntly (the station).

Over time the suburb has been spelt in different ways. Today it’s got a space, but you’ll find it without in the 1966 first edition Melway.

I suspect the official suburb name settled on Glen Huntly when the origins of the name were determined – it’s from a Scottish ship that arrived in Melbourne in 1840. The crew and passengers were struck down with fever, probably typhoid, and it prompted the creation of Victoria’s first quarantine station.

The railway station name has also changed over time. Originally Glen Huntly Road (1881) then Glen Huntly (1882), it got renamed to Glenhuntly (1937) and has remained so ever since.

So now the station name doesn’t match the suburb name.

Glenhuntly station / Glen Huntly level crossing

An opportunity

Glenhuntly station is due to be completely rebuilt in 2023-24 as part of the level crossing removal program. This means there’s a good opportunity to fix the name so it’s consistent with the suburb.

  • All the signage has to be replaced anyway
  • The maps will have to be redone around that time for the Surrey Hills/Mont Albert merger
  • It doesn’t involve a change in spelling (at least the letters), so it won’t clash with any other name
  • The internal railway code (GHY) could stay the same.
  • It’s of no real consequence if some documentation or old maps still excludes the space. It’s unlikely to cause any confusion
  • It doesn’t involve swapping or moving a name to another location – which was what caused the government to back away from shifting the name “North Melbourne” from the current station to the new Metro tunnel station at Arden

There’s probably a few stations that are outside their suburbs, thanks to boundaries moving. It may be complicated to radically rename them – though it seems to be depressingly easy to get the boundaries moved needlessly.

Are there any other stations with spelling that is slightly incorrect, and a mere tweak could fix it?

Glenhuntly to Glen Huntly is easy. So how about it, decision-makers?

Update 12:30pm. There’s some great discussion on Twitter about this – especially this thread from “railmaps”. Click through to read it all.

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.

23 replies on “Station names vs suburb names”

Agree with changing it to Glen Huntly. Arden could become the name of the new suburb/enclave, so itโ€™s probably ok. And Anzac at a stretch given the proximity to the Shrine.

One to think about is what happens to Burwood station on the Alamein line when the new station in Burwood (Deakin) is built as part of Suburban Orbital.

I remember reading “Glenhuntly” in the Melway when growing up… then to learn the name changed, that was an adjustment. Then the reason emerged (historical) and it made sense!

Should be OK to add a space, after all it happened to Keonpark and Upperferntreegully years ago.

I’m out on the Eastern lines where a lot of stations are on main roads and the names mistaken for suburb names. E.g. there is no suburb called Glenferrie! I think the main station subject to suburb creep is Burwood, which is now within the boundary of Glen Iris (when it increased eastward from Summerhill Rd to Warrigal Rd in 1995). Ashburton is borderline, in fact the Ashburton shops on High Street are now bi-sected by the Glen Iris/Ashburton border (moved from back fences east of Towerhill Rd to fences east of Ward St, as above).

Syndal and Jordanville are historic in nature, the stations being the last remnants of the name. I wouldn’t advocate changing either though.

The general reason seems to be that suburbs in Melbourne are HUGE, they get bigger the further you move out from the city centre. Much larger than most Sydney and Adelaide suburbs.

Is the new map (which should say is being rolled out for the 31st, not 29th January timetable change) simply going to say that Cranbourne and Pakhenam trains don’t stop between Caulfield and South Yarra?

According to Wikipedia, “Lower Ferntree Gully was renamed Ferntree Gully on 1 October 1962, and renamed Fern Tree Gully on 29 February 1972 although in recent times most references to the station use the 1962 version, despite a lack of evidence that it has ever officially been changed back.”

What about route names/destinations? Tram 58 to/from “West Coburg” is a contender as (i) There is no suburb or locality of West Coburg; (ii) the Tram doesn’t run through ANY of Coburg; and (iii) anyone unfamiliar with the area trying to get to Coburg are going to be a long way from the main activty centres. There was a lost opportunity to name this correctly when (IIRC) the 55 became 58

You mention stations that are outside their suburbs. Toorak is in Armadale (well, the locality is Armadale North). True, if the station was on the other side of Malvern Rd, it would be in Toorak, but that would still be a long way from the “heart” of Toorak which would generally be considered to be along Toorak Rd. This must be confusing for the uninformed visitor, but presumably the rest of us have learnt to live with it and the likelihood of any change is remote. In any event, there’s no obvious alternative name, except perhaps “Toorak Park”. This would put visitors “on notice” of the issue and would be a minimalist change, but would the hassle be worth it?

Very interesting. Thanks for your article.
I prefer to stick with the status quo if that’s what people are use to.
Fixing the Glen Huntly/Glenhuntly error can be done simply as the travelling public wouldn’t be confused.

North Melbourne should really be West Melbourne. But after all the kerfuffle with the Arden rename that didn’t happen, I wonder if they’d be game to change it.

Lets hope the Suburban Rail Loop gets destination naming, eg “Deakin University”, “Monash University”, etc. that help people get off at the right station and not some obscure name of historic importance or by someone who won a public naming competition..

Southland will be interesting if the new loop station isn’t connected to the existing Frankston Line station. If you think about London underground stations and how they cross multiple lines, requiring long walks through tunnels, there’s no reason why the rail loop station couldn’t also be Southland. If the loop is a totally separate train line, train drivers won’t get confused, and commuters can walk between stations to transfer lines. Obviously the shorter the distance (the better the integration) the better the passenger experience because I suspect there will be a fair number of passengers transferring to reach Monash University.

Should Caulfield Station be renamed after its location, Caulfield East?

Greater Caulfield (Caulfield, Caulfield North, Caulfield South and Caulfield East) and is relatively geographically peripheral to all but Caulfield East and Glenhuntly is closer to most of Caulfield proper. And it is a relatively easy name change.

@Ant, I hope they’ll call the SRL station Deakin University, or some variation of that, since that’s the reason they’re building an SRL station there!

@Michael I, date corrected, thanks. Even the current map shows the Cranbourne/Pakenham line with no stops between Caulfield and South Yarra (even though until the change, a few early morning and late night trains do stop)

@Jason, I do recall the southern terminus of route 78 was changed from the completely incorrect “Prahran” some years ago. Not sure any others have been changed recently.

@Dave, agree that the SRL station should be Southland – I suppose the same issue will be considered at Clayton, Glen Waverley and Box Hill (and others later)

@Tom, given there is no other Caulfield X station, and the station serves Caulfield, Caulfield East and Caulfield North, I don’t see the point of a name change.

I think the best option is to leave station names as they are, as making changes is likely to lead to confusion.

To suggest that all stations should be renamed after the suburb they are in is too simplistic, as in many cases the location of the railway station is much more well known than the location of the current suburb boundaries. Moorabbin is a good example of this. When most people think of Moorabbin they would think of the area around the junction of Nepean Highway and South Road (unless they are thinking of the airport which is well to the east of the suburb). However as Daniel has pointed out, much of the area people think of as Moorabbin is now technically in Hampton East or Bentleigh due to suburb boundary changes.

Camberwell is another example where most people would expect Camberwell to refer to the area nearby Camberwell Junction. However, since a suburb boundary change in 2000 it now stretches all the way to Warrigal Rd taking in parts of the former Burwood. This can be confusing as the ‘Burwood Village Shopping Centre’ on Toorak Rd near Warrigal Road is now technically split between Camberwell and Glen Iris according to current suburb boundaries, yet most people would think of this area as Burwood. It can be quite confusing when there is a shop addressed as ‘Toorak Rd, Camberwell’ as it could be in the Burwood Village shopping centre near Warrigal Rd, the Harwell shopping centre near Summerhill Rd or the Camberwell South shopping centre near Burke Rd. These locations are quite some distance apart!

My understanding is that formal suburb boundaries only came into effect sometime in the 1990s and that prior to that there were only postcode boundaries, with some postcodes shared between multiple suburbs such as Surrey Hills and Mont Albert which both share 3127. This can be seen in older editions of Melway where there are no boundaries between suburbs sharing the same postcode. When suburb boundaries came into effect, some municipalities like Glen Eira defined suburb boundaries around nearly all of their localities, hence each railway station within Glen Eira is located within its own suburb boundary with the exception of Patterson, which for some reason was not split from Bentleigh.

The other reason why changing station names to reflect the suburbs they are in would be confusing is that there are some suburbs which are very large and contain multiple stations. The current suburb of Camberwell, for example, has 5 separate stations which obviously can’t all be called “Camberwell” Unlike Glen Eira, when suburb boundaries were first introduced in the 1990s, Boroondara failed to define suburb boundaries around each of its localities. Localities such as Deepdene, Greythorn and Hartwell all missed out and disappeared into other larger suburbs such as Camberwell and Balwyn. It was only after residents kicked up a stink that Deepdene was eventually recognised as its own suburb around 10 to 15 years later.

So, what to do with the current Burwood Station, which since 2000 is technically within the suburb of Glen Iris; and the proposal for a new station within the remaining suburb of Burwood near Deakin University as part of the Suburban Rail Loop. In my opinion, the best solution would be to leave the current Burwood Station as is and instead call the new station ‘Deakin’. It is only fair that if a new station for Monash University (located in Clayton) is to be called ‘Monash’, then a new station for Deakin University should be called ‘Deakin’. This avoids any potential confusion between a new and an old ‘Burwood’ station, resulting in someone potentially going to the wrong place. Also, it is not as though the existing station could be renamed ‘Glen Iris’ as we already have a ‘Glen Iris’ station which is on a different line.

@Daniel If you can edit your own comments, please change @Michael K to @Michael I. If not, just remember that that’s how to address something specifically meant for me only :-)

— Done, thanks! I’m just churning out the typos today! —Daniel

Another good article Daniel,

Thanks for sharing. I’m happy with all the names for the stations on the new tunnel, except for Anzac. It’s a terrible idea.
It should just be called Domain, seeing as that’s what the tram interchange in the same location has been known as for generations. Additionally, it is more or less located where Domain Road meets St Kilda Rd, so it makes sense geographically too. Given that there is no street or landmark called Anzac in the area, it could be confusing for interstate/overseas visitors or even just people who are not regular users of the system. They still have time to fix this mistake, I hope they do!

I’d agree that the station names should be linked to location, although that can be hard if there are multiple stations in a suburb, as others pointed out.

However as people more and more use Google Maps and other such services to find their way around, the need for accuracy becomes less important, I think. The train map is already an abstraction anyway.

I was riding along the Caulfield end of Neerim road yesterday and noticed at least one cycling direction sign giving direction & distances to “Glen Huntly Station” so it appears that even the station name isn’t consistent.

Both Hughesdale & Murrumbeena stations are in Murrumbeena (suburb); Hughesdale station moved across Poath road and out of Hughesdale as part of the LXRA work

I must say, I’m not a fan of the proposed names for the CBD metro stations. They’re in the same ticketed area and so should have the same name as Flinders st and Melbourne central, IMO.
Different names is going to make the map a mess and cause endless confusion. When metro 2 happens, there’ll be nine station names in the Hoddle grid! And I can imagine staff constantly explaining to people that they don’t need to leave Flinders st to enter town hall. Only the Russians seem to name stations that way.
I don’t find any of the reasons given for this approach compelling.

Glenhuntly is such a mess I’d be in favour of changing the suburb back to Caulfield South and the station to match. I don’t know what your experience was living there, but when I did in the 1980s just northwest of the station we had not much success getting large companies to send letters addressed to “Glenhuntly” (as it then was, without the space), and none at all with utilities. As far as they were concerned it was Caulfield South, and they would not budge. Google Maps shows Glenhuntly as consisting of just two blocks west of Jasper Rd and east of Booran, with a population of only 5000 despite all the apartments. The 1963 Melways 1st ed. has it as a completely disjoint two blocks east of Jasper bounded by Neerim, Koornang and Oakleigh.

When I lived there neither the road, the suburb, nor the station had a space and I was unaware of the origin in the typhoid ship. Adding the space to the road makes sense because it restores the historical link. But I’m not sure it’s a win to do it for the suburb, because then people will assume Glen Huntly Rd. is the road that goes to Glen Huntly, and Glen Huntly is exactly the kind of bland name too many new suburbs get in Melbourne. If you change the name of the suburb to be unrelated, it’s a hint that there’s a less mundane story behind the road name. We all prefer to live in places without mundane names.

Presumably the station was originally Glenhuntly Rd or Glen Huntly Rd, which must have been confusing with Elsternwick Station also being on that road, and the “Rd” was dropped when all the other “Rd” and “St” suffixes were (I think sometime in the 1920s).

Another station that happened to on the Frankston line is Patterson. I’d love to see that change back to Patterson Rd. There is only one landmark on that line called “Patterson”, and that is the Patterson River (really a canal, and originally the Patterson Cut). But you won’t find a river near Patterson Station. For that, you have to go to Carrum.

@Anthony Young: Have to agree with the CBD Stations. Just keep the names as they were intended – Melbourne Central and Flinders St, reason being same ticketed area.

I also wonder why is there the obsessive need to keep names short. Domain (Remembrance Shrine) and Parkville (Melbourne University SW) works just fine.

Other than Spencer St and Museum, when was the last time a station name was changed? Maybe when Sydenham was electrified and moved to Watergardens?

I’d imagine there are fewer and fewer trips being made without the assistance of Google Maps or other journey planning tools. That doesn’t mean that station names shouldn’t be meaningful.

On the Sunbury line, the only stations that are completely where you think they should be are Footscray, Sunshine, St Albans (all where the Central Activities Districts are), Watergardens (shopping centre), Diggers Rest and Sunbury (both self-contained urban areas outside of Melbourne). Although you don’t need to travel too far further on the Bendigo line before even that falls away, with Gisborne not actually in Gisborne!

Of the others – North Melbourne (in West Melbourne), South Kensington (for completeness, partly right, the Kensington/West Melbourne boundary is the rail line), Middle Footscray (not in the middle of Footscray), West Footscray (partly right, the boundary is the rail line – the other half is still Footscray), Tottenham (just in West Footscray, then the rail line goes through Braybrook not Tottenham), Albion (partly right, again the boundary is the rail line), Ginifer (in St Albans) and Keilor Plains (still in St Albans).

And just to confuse everyone further. Sunshine Hospital is in… St Albans (make sure you get off the train at Ginifer, though!).

@Steve: Do you think some of these suburbs should be renamed into compound station names? Like:
– Tottenham NW or Tottenham-Braybrook (since West Footscray is already taken, and West Footscray SW sounds a bit too ridiculous…)
– Keilor Downs-St Albans North
– Ginifer (Sunshine Hospital)
– New Gisbourne, or Gisbourne North

And others could be:
– Glenferrie Road

That’s what Tokyo Metro sometimes does when a subway station straddles over two district/neighbourhood boundaries.
…Or maybe just use the Street name and the proper suburb name(s) (and put nearby landmark in brackets)!

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