There are four platforms at Caulfield station:
- Frankston line inbound to City/Werribee/Williamstown
- Frankston line outbound
- Cranbourne/Pakenam/Gippsland lines inbound to City
- Cranbourne/Pakenam/Gippsland lines outbound
Platforms 2 and 3 are an island – one physical structure with tracks either side, so changing between them is easy, just go across the platform. For the others you have to exit the paid area, use the subway, and re-enter.
A reasonable number of people change trains at Caulfield. Some will be changing from inbound Frankston to outbound Cranbourne/Pakenham/Gippsland line trains, and vice versa.
During peak, quite a few change from inbound Frankston trains (especially stopping all stations services) to inbound Dandenong trains, to save a few minutes if heading to the City Loop.
That’s despite it being a fairly ordinary interchange. The station is largely unchanged since the 1910s when there were upgrades to removal level crossings and provide more tracks between the city and Caulfield.
Having to exit the station to change trains is a substandard experience.
(Technically you should touch-off when exiting, though there are no gates on platforms 1 and 4, and the system won’t penalise you if you don’t.)
There’s no weather protection for some of the walk, especially if you have to enter or exit platform 1. The subway has steep ramps that are covered, but are not DDA-compliant, and the ramps can become crowded at busy times.
As noted in this Age story from 2021, when the Metro tunnel opens in 2025, this will be a bigger problem. Far more passengers will change trains here.
Passengers from Dandenong line trains will change to the Frankston line to access South Yarra and Richmond. (For CBD stations such as Parliament, Flagstaff or Southern Cross it may be easier to change in the CBD).
Passengers from Frankston line trains will change here for quicker access to Anzac, Parkville and Arden.
And vice versa of course.
So there’s a lot of merit to Caulfield being upgraded to better cater for interchange – allowing passengers to change trains without leaving the paid area, providing more capacity, better weather protection, and better wheelchair access.
One idea is a new concourse – probably over the tracks at the south eastern end of the station, similar to the one built at North Melbourne in 2007-2009. This left the old facilities in place so overall capacity is increased.
Footscray also got upgrades around that time, with a new concourse replacing an old narrow footbridge. It was an improvement, though most passengers still need to leave the paid area to change trains.
Potentially a new Caulfield concourse could provide a walkway above Sir John Monash Drive directly into the university.
The government knows this will be an issue. And to their credit, they committed $2 million in the 2022 State Budget for planning.
Additional funding is provided to plan for future upgrades at Caulfield Station to improve customer amenity and passenger flows, with Caulfield Station to become a key interchange point following completion of the Metro Tunnel.Victoria State Budget 2022, Service Delivery (Budget Paper 3)
…but it’s unclear what progress there has been on this.
And meanwhile, the Metro Tunnel moves ever closer to opening. It’s expected in 2025.
Let’s hope they get on with ensuring that interchange stations such as Caulfield are up to scratch.