Making the most of the Metro tunnel when it opens includes boosting services, and ensuring that not just the new tunnel and stations are up to scratch, but also the existing line and stations out to Sunbury and Cranbourne/Pakenham that the trains will serve.
Some stations, apart from planned platform extensions for the 7-car trains, seem to be getting nothing, and it’s striking. Middle Footscray is one of them. It doesn’t have a level crossing so it appears not to be a candidate for rebuilding.
I assume “Middle” was convention at the time for a station that was in the geographic middle, but wasn’t the “main” shopping/business area of a suburb. Middle Footscray is between Footscray and West Footscray stations.
After originally opening in 1906, Middle Footscray was rebuilt in 1927 as part of works to provide a parallel goods line and grade separate Victoria Street. This Parliamentary report notes that the station was moved across the street at this time, which explains why it was so close to West Footscray until that station moved slightly west in 2013 for the RRL project.
This 1926 Age article says patronage at Middle Footscray was 489,319 in 1925-26. Assuming the numbers are comparable, patronage immediately pre-COVID (in 2018-19) was a fair bit lower, 279,700, but probably more concentrated in peak hours. There are more trains running now than in the 1920s, but off-peak service needs to be more frequent to compete with widespread car ownership.
The station is largely unaltered since 1927. The entrance is in the Victoria Street underpass, with a ramp leading up to the ticket machines and old booking office.
Unfortunately when I was there recently, the old building was extensively tagged on one side.
I suspect this is one of the very few stations left with absolutely no Passenger Information Displays at all. Most have at least LED displays, or small flat screens, and many have network status screens. Real-time information is available on phones, but having it displayed to passengers is very valuable.
The entrance ramp is quite steep. But at the top there is a fair bit of level space – perhaps enough to rework it to meet modern DDA standards of a 1:14 gradient and a maximum 9 metres between landings. The other issue might be the street access that leads to the entrance.
The island platform is surrounded – by the RRL (V/Line) tracks on the south side, and the Standard Gauge freight/North East line on the north side.
The platform is tapered towards the western end, and there isn’t a huge amount of shelter – just the old building and a small additional shelter further along the platform.
So with passenger information, shelter, and accessibility, there’s a few potential upgrades that could be made.
Importantly, the recent State Budget included investments in upgrading the train service to run through the Metro tunnel, as well as planning money for upgrades at Caulfield to help passenger interchange.
Hopefully there’ll continue to be service and station upgrades around the network, to bring all stations up to modern standards.