Melbourne’s trenched railways are also ugly

This week the Herald Sun ran a piece titled “Suburban sky rail: Spin vs reality”, featuring ugly examples of elevated rail in Melbourne, covered in graffiti and littered with rubbish. For the purposes of comparison, here are some equally unattractive examples of railway lines being sunk beneath the road.

EDI Comeng 439M heads a down Sydenham train at Footscray

We start at Footscray, where the tracks at both ends of the station run in a ‘slot’ beneath the road.

EDI Comeng arrives into Footscray on a down Laverton service

The cutting at the city end was recently expanded to six tracks as part of the Regional Rail Link project, but the graffiti vandals have already left their mark.

Hitachi 282M leads the train at Footscray

Even a steam train chugging past doesn’t make the cutting look any nicer.

D3 639 heads towards Southern Cross at Footscray, using the Werribee suburban tracks

Windsor is another railway station located below ground – with a brick walled cutting runs between Chapel Street and Dandenong Road, covered with graffiti.

Alstom Comeng 601M in the cutting between Dandenong Road and Chapel Street at Windsor

The tracks between East Richmond and Burnley are located in a concrete walled cutting beneath the streets of Richmond, where graffiti features heavily.

Graffiti along the concrete cutting walls between Burnley and East Richmond

Even when the graffiti finally gets painted over, it reappears soon after.

Relatively clean retaining walls between Burnley and East Richmond

Nearby at South Yarra, the railway towards Caulfield passes beneath Chapel Street next door to the Jam Factory and again, graffiti and litter features.

Siemens on the up passes the Jam Factory at South Yarra

At Camberwell the tracks were lowered beneath Burke Road almost a century ago, but the brick walls that line the cutting are still a magnet for graffiti vandals.

Cutting at Camberwell looking up the line

The concrete walls on the other side are just as unsightly.

3-car X'Trapolis set on the Alamein shuttles shunts into siding 'A' at Camberwell

And don’t think putting railway tracks underground is a way to stop graffiti – even the City Loop tunnels are full of painted scrawl.

Junction of the City Circle and Clifton Hill tunnels in the underground loop

A graffiti covered railway viaduct gives passengers a clear view across suburbia, with the ugly side facing local residents and road users; while a graffiti covered railway cutting hides the urban blight at the bottom of a hole, where only train passengers will see it.

Sounds like the Herald Sun is pandering to their key demographic of road users and NIMBYs, and doesn’t give a stuff about people who actually use public transport?


From the original Herald Sun piece:

Proposed sky rail plan under cloud after existing elevated lines revealed as vandalised eyesores
February 10, 2016
Kara Irving and Tom Minear

the Premier’s vision of a “beautiful” parkland oasis beneath the proposed Cranbourne-Pakenham sky rail is under a cloud as it emerged that existing elevated lines are neglected and vandalised.

Premier Daniel Andrews has promised “community open spaces, parks, playgrounds and netball courts” beneath the controversial tracks, being built to remove nine level crossings. But a Herald Sun analysis has exposed a reality of concrete pillars and elevated track beds covered in ugly graffiti tags.

West Richmond, Clifton Hill, Hawthorn, Oakleigh, Gardenvale, Elsternwick and Balaclava overpasses have all fallen victim to vandals and open spaces have become desolate litter-strewn wastelands avoided by residents and traders.

Fighting development with the ‘paedophile card’

There are many reasons to oppose development in your backyard – some reasonable, others plainly ridiculous. An example of the latter is the ‘paedophile card’ – a new weapon in the NIMBY arsenal.

Rubbish ledge at North Melbourne station, thanks to the removal of rubbish bins

In October 2015 NIMBYs on Sydney’s northern beaches deployed the ‘paedophile card’ to fight a proposed eight-unit boarding house.

In an online submission to Warringah Council dated August 25, Samantha Mapp wrote: “My kids will be walking past this house twice a day without supervision in the next few years and I don’t trust the type of people staying in boarding house.

“Most are filled with ice addicts, heroin junkies, paedophiles and jail birds. Please stop this from happening asap [sic].”

Other residents appear to also believe there is a link between boarding houses and paedophiles.
Cromer Public School principal Maureen Gray, who lodged a personal submission against the proposal.

Cromer Public School principal Maureen Gray, who lodged a personal submission against the proposal.

“This area is simply not suitable for a boarding house and I fear for the safety of our children,” Ulrike Kohn wrote in her submission.

“Not only because there is no control over who will be living there (pedophiles???) but also because the children might be exposed to drug/alcohol related problems.”

Residents of the leafy Melbourne suburb of Balwyn also played the ‘paedophile card’ when objecting to a three-storey apartment development.

More than 450 residents and objectors had registered their opposition with the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to a small apartment project behind Fintona Girls School in Balwyn. The 16 units were part of a three-storey development in Balwyn’s Cherry Road.

Opponents had argued, among other objections, that “perverts” in the apartments might overlook the school’s playground.

And most recently, local residents opposed to the construction of elevated railway viaducts on the Dandenong line have also discovered the ‘paedophile card’.

No Sky Rail president Karlee Browning said she had grave safety concerns regarding the proposal. Ms Browning, who lives one metre from the existing railway corridor, said at least 200 houses in just her neighbourhood would be affected by the proposal.

“You’ll directly look from top of this nine-metre structure into my swimming pool, where my children and my family play in the backyard.

“I am worried about the safety and privacy of my children, that they are not going to be preyed upon by paedophiles looking into the pool when they are swimming.”

According to Godwin’s law invoking a comparison to Hitler means you’ve lost the argument – by that logic does playing the ‘paedophile card’ in a planning dispute mean the objector has no leg to stand upon?

Car advertisers playing it safe

A common theme in advertisements for new cars is speed and the open road – and this recent Holden Commodore television commercial is no exception. However, it was the speedometer that caught my eye.

Holden Commodore television commercial

Out on the open plains and foot to the floor, yet only 98 km/h on the speedo.

98 km/h on the speedometer

The reason for such a low speed – the Advertising Standards Board prohibits the depiction of the following activities in motor vehicle advertisements:

  • Unsafe driving,
  • Driving in excess of speed limits,
  • Driving practices or other actions in breach of any law,
  • Driving while being fatigued, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and
  • Deliberate and significant environmental damage.

With nitpickers reporting anything and everything objectionable to the Advertising Standards Board, small details such as the speedometer reading can’t be missed by advertisers!


You can find the Voluntary Code of Practice for Motor Vehicle Advertising on the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries website. The Advertising Standards Board also has a page on common vehicle advertising complaints.

The full Holden Commodore commercial can be found here:

Measure twice, cut once at Laverton station

You’d think preventing trains from hitting a new railway platform would be easy – there are standards for how close you can build to the tracks, so following those clearances in your construction drawing, and it’ll just work. However the people who designed the Laverton station upgrades of 2009-10 somehow forgot that, leading to plenty of rework before trains were allowed to run.

Siemens stops for passengers at Laverton station, surrounded by construction

A third platform was built on the northern side of the tracks, while trains continued using the original island platforms on the other side of the tracks.

Looking down on the island platform, to be renumbered 2 and 3

By December 2009 the new track had been laid, but lacking any rail welds or ballast.

Track in the new platform still incomplete, minus rail welds or ballast

While the Werribee end of the new platform featured a staircase up to the concourse, as well as a tall fence along the platform edge, where a passage provided access to the lift.

Down end of the new platform, dunno how a wheelchair will fit between the stairs and the fence

But a few months later in February 2010, the fence was gone.

Fence along platform 1 removed because it was out of gauge

And a few weeks after that, a stair shaped looking sliver of concrete appeared in the station car park.

The removed bit of the stairs to platform 1

While workers were busy chipping away at the bottom end of the staircase.

A section of platform 1 was out of gauge, so the fence was removed and the edge moved inwards, requiring the steps to be cut back so wheelchairs could still get past

The reason for the works – the new platform was “out of gauge” and passing trains were at risk of hitting it, so the platform edge was moved inwards, requiring the steps to be cut back so wheelchairs could still get between it and a shortened platform fence.

VLocity 3VL50 leads a down Geelong service through Laverton station


The altered steps are Laverton station are still visible today – when heading down to platform 1, the stairs get narrower just before reaching the last landing.

Photos from ten years ago: January 2006

Another instalment in my photos from ten years ago series – this time January 2006.

Melbourne’s Eureka Tower had topped out, but the glass curtain walls were still on the way up.

Topping out Melbourne's Eureka Tower

The new VLocity trains had yet to make a dent in V/Line’s operations, with 3 carriage long trains hauled by diesel locomotives still a common sight.

N451 and N set awaiting departure time at South Geelong

And fifty year old locomotive S302 was still being used on services between Melbourne and Warrnambool – with only one cab it required a spin on the turntable at each end!

S302 awaiting departure from Geelong on the down Warrnambool

The Siemens trains on the Melbourne suburban network were starting to be a common sight, some of them still wearing the livery of M>Train who collapsed in April 2004.

M%3ETrain 'Wave' fronted Siemens arrives into Newport

And finally this photo from outside Flinders Street Station – tram SW6.909 was on City Circle duties while wearing a special Australia Day livery. Note the lack of platform stops at this busy tram stop, and the scaffolding covering the spire at St Paul’s Cathedral.

SW6.909 in Australia Day livery on Flinders Street

Further reading

The full photos from ten years ago series.