Caulfield interchange needs to improve

Changing trains at Caulfield is about to become a lot more common

There are four platforms at Caulfield station:

  1. Frankston line inbound to City/Werribee/Williamstown
  2. Frankston line outbound
  3. Cranbourne/Pakenam/Gippsland lines inbound to City
  4. 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.

Screen at entrance to Caulfield station, showing train departures
Passenger Information Display at the entrance to Caulfield station, showing trains departing from the various platforms

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.)

Passengers entering platform 3 at Caulfield
Passengers entering platform 3 at Caulfield

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.

Passengers leaving platform 4 at Caulfield, heading to other platforms

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.

North Melbourne station, showing southern concourse
North Melbourne, southern concourse

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.

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.

13 replies on “Caulfield interchange needs to improve”

“they committed $2 million in the 2022 State Budget for planning.”
And that’s just for planning!
You presented a good case for upgrade (rebuild?) of Caulfield station, Daniel.
Also note that Caulfield is often used as bus interchange for Sandringham line passengers during works on the Sandy line

Unlikely to ever happen, but they should add a couple of flyovers to flip the Frankston line to have both city-bound tracks on the island and the outbound tracks on the standalone platforms.

I’d argue a new overhead concourse at the city end of the station would provide better connectivity to the tram and bus stops on either side of the station, especially if you took it all the way over Normanby Road to the new apartment developments between the station and the racecourse.

I kind of suspect they are keeping the option open of stopping at Malvern to take the pressure off Caulfield, at least in the short to medium term.

It will never happen, but I’d love for them to have an arrangement to allow for cross-platform transfers at one of the MATH stations; probably Malvern.
They should rebuild it with two island platforms, and use flyovers to bring the two city-bound tracks together, and the two outbound tracks together. That way, everyone would be able to access all the City Loop and Metro Tunnel stations with one seamless interchange.
That would leave Caulfield as an interchange only for people wanting to go from the Pakenham/Cranbourne line to the Frankston line, without going into the city, or visa versa. And even then, I reckon most people in 10 years will be using SRL to do that anyway!

going from platform 2/3 to platform 1 in the morning peak i’m often met with a wall of passengers exiting platform 1 through the tiny entrance/exit, causing me and others to miss the train. i’m sure that people going from platform 1 to 2/3 to get on a city loop train will tell you the same thing, the number of myki scanners is inadequate on 2/3 and the exit on platform 1 is too small.

I would hope that passenger movement at Caulfield and other relevant stations has been examined carefully, but it looks like what is required will be a catch up. Busy stations like Richmond, South Yarra and Caulfield are a disgrace.

Definite improvement is needed at Caulfield, but I think more broadly any station that has street access to its end platforms is not well set up for interchanging. North Melbourne works partly because all platforms are accessible from the concourse.

Footscray suffers the same thing, unless you’re changing from an inbound regional service to an outbound Sunbury service (which I do to backtrack to West Footscray, if that’s a better connection than changing at Sunshine) or an inbound Werribee/Williamstown service to an outbound regional service.

At Sunshine, outbound regional is the poor relation. Although before the regional daily cap came in it was actually beneficial to leave and re-enter the paid area!

Expand Caulfield station to 6 platforms (3 islands): north platform outbound; centre platform regional trains and south platform inbound to allow for cross platform transfers.
Have the outside tracks for Frankston trains with a flyover of the Dandenong tracks being the inside tracks.
The central island platforms on the stations between South Yarra and Caulfield could be removed to provide for a fifth (regional) express track

@Warwick, I suspect the window of opportunity for that is passed – given the complete rebuild of tracks around Caulfield plus the Glen Huntly level crossing removal

@DailyCaulfieldChanger, yes, it’s problematic during peak. One strategy I’ve used is on 2+3 to use the opposite platform to the busy one. More walking but sometimes quicker.

When changing off platform 4, if near the front of the train, use the newer steps to exit onto the street. Quicker than getting through the crowd at the main exit.

When changing off platforms 1 or 4 to 2+3, don’t bother touching off, particularly if there’s a queue for the Myki readers. The gates on 2+3 will happily let you touch-on to enter.

@Charles, I think it’s very difficult to justify another 2 platforms (and a complete rebuild of Caulfield) for 2 V/Line trains per hour maximum, with little prospect for an increase.

I would have thought a simple solution would be to widen and extend the subway, so it comes up in the shopping centre car park one one side and in front of or inside the racecourse on the other, with a lift onto each of the three platforms. This would, as I see it, help congestion (widening), integrate the station into the trip generators either side (extend) and provide step free access (lifts).

The interchange will get much busier with the opening of the Metro Tunnel, as a significant number of Frankston line passengers will interchange there onto Dandenong line trains so that they can access Anzac Station and St Kilda road trams, as well as the Town Hall station exit to Collins Street. I think that these numbers of passengers will dwarf those wanting to interchange to go to South Yarra, Richmond or Docklands on a Frankston train. South Yarra will lose a lot of passenger throughput.
They could have all trains stop at Malvern to help spread the interchange load between the two stations. Might be an oppurtune time to also reconsider the tram arrangement at Malvern in conjunction, as was proposed some years back, to make Malvern more of an interchange hub i.e. terminate 16 and 64 at Malvern, and convert the N-S legs of the 16 and 64 into a single N-S tram route up to all the schools around Kew and surrounds.

It is too late now for flyovers and cross platform transfers.
I would suggest a new pedestrian underpass at the southeast end of the platforms with steep, non-DDA ramps or stairs and escalators and with lifts. Provide a new station forecourt in the triangle between Sir John Monash Drive and Queens Avenue, with barriers at the entrance only and no through passage to Normanby Road. Platforms 1 and 4 may need to be extended and widened.
If a new overpass is built, or an underpass with DDA compliant ramps, it will not get used as it would be slower than the existing arrangement.

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