Bridge strikes, and other tales of Patterson station

It’s not Montague Street, but trucks keep hitting this low bridge

I’m not absolutely positive, but Patterson Road in Bentleigh seems to have had a rail bridge since the railway line opened in 1881.

EDIT: Turns out no, it was originally a level crossing.

A terrific old undated photo at PROV from perhaps the 1910s (but presumably no later than 1922 when the railway was electrified) shows an unsealed road and a wooden rail bridge, without much clearance at all:

Patterson Road Bridge, perhaps around 1910. Source: PROV

A later photo showing a Ford Zephyr shows the old bridge survived into the 1950s.

A Weston Langford photo from 1960 indicates the bridge was replaced when Patterson station was constructed between 1958 and 1961, including provision for a third track which didn’t come into use until 1987 – now that’s forward planning!

Low clearance

Despite the greater road clearance these days, there’s still a height limit of 3.2 metres. Perhaps unsurprisingly given some Melbourne motorists’ lack of awareness of their own vehicle heights, the bridge has been hit at least twice recently.

In 2022 the bridge was hit on the eastern side, apparently bringing the station sign down.

As of last week, the sign still hadn’t been replaced.

Patterson station - rail bridge, eastern side

…and then in June 2023 it got hit on the western side, leaving the station sign at a noticeable angle. Presumably it’s been checked and won’t fall on anybody, but it’s not a great look.

Patterson station - rail bridge, western side

The yellow beams are protection devices, to take the impact rather than the bridge itself. But hopefully this doesn’t become a regular occurrence.

The mural was installed in 2011-12, and is mostly still in good condition, though a few tiles have fallen off over the years.

Patterson used to be the least-patronised station on the Frankston line, and being just over the zone 1 boundary didn’t help. A lot more people use it since the big zone 1+2 fare jump was removed in 2015 – patronage grew by 68% between 2014 and 2019.

Last year, Passenger Information Displays were installed under the bridge, so you know which platform to head for and if your train is imminent… though unfortunately they have a long-running fault: some trains mysteriously aren’t shown.

The bigger problem with the station will be trickier to fix: the ramps up to the platforms aren’t DDA-compliant, and are too steep for some people to use. This is a problem at many stations, but hopefully there’s a plan to resolve it.

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.

2 replies on “Bridge strikes, and other tales of Patterson station”

I used to catch the train from Patterson at one stage (even buying my weekly or monthly at the newsagent – I think – nearby). But then I clued on that it was cheaper to keep walking to Bentleigh! It was also a bad spot to leave a bike.

@Steve, you definitely weren’t the only one! There were people I used to see regularly boarding the train at Bentleigh, who disappeared when the fare cut came in. I later saw them at Patterson (during 2016 when Bentleigh was closed but the line was still open, due to level crossing works).

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