Dud escalators at North Melbourne Station

You don’t have to look far on Melbourne’s rail network to find failure, but the escalators at North Melbourne station would have to take the cake for their endless outages. So how many times have they broken down?

Now the escalator at North Melbourne station platform 6 has died

I first bothered to take a photo of a failed escalator at North Melbourne station on October 10, 2012 – the defective unit was leading to platform 2/3.

Escalator out of use at North Melbourne station in the leadup to morning peak

November 21, 2012 an escalator to platform 1 broke.

One day on: escalator still broken at North Melbourne

And stayed that way for a day.

Two days on: escalator still broken at North Melbourne

Staff put up an ‘out of order until further notice’ sign, with the escalator still being broken three days after the initial fault.

Escalator 'out of order until further notice' - what a joke

A few weeks later on November 26, 2012 the other escalator to platform 1 broke down.

You just fixed the other escalator at North Melbourne, and now the neighbouring one is broken?

On December 5 the escalator for platform 6 was next to fail.

Now the escalator for platform 6 at North Melbourne is broken

A few months went by without me noticing a failed escalator, when on March 27, 2013 I discovered a hand written sign advising passengers of the fact.

Another day, another failed escalator at North Melbourne station

A few days on, and that escalator to platform 1 was still broken.

A few days on, the escalator at North Melbourne station platform 1 still broken

Two weeks later the escalator was still kaput, when I took this photo on April 10.

Escalator at North Melbourne station platform 1 still broken!

Fast forward to late 2013, and I spotted an out of service escalator to platform 6 on December 23.

Out of service escalator leading from North Melbourne platform 6

January 8, 2014 the same escalator broke yet again.

Escalator to North Melbourne platform 6 broken yet again

Staff wrote out a sign telling passengers to use the staircase or lift to exit the platform.

Notice that the escalator to North Melbourne platform 6 is broken yet again

April 30, 2014 an escalator to platform 2 and 3 died.

Broken down escalator at North Melbourne platform 2 and 3

May 30, 2014 the escalator leading to platform 6 died again, leading some wag to write “Is this a joke” on the sign.

Broken escalator leading to North Melbourne platform 6

Metro Trains must have picked up on the plague of escalator failures, as they printed up some fancy looking posters to take the place of the handwritten signs.

Escalators out of order again at North Melbourne platform 6

But two days later on July 4, that sign was still there.

Escalators still out of order at North Melbourne platform 6

On August 12, 2014 it was the turn of platform 1 to receive the new ‘Escalators out of order’ posters.

Escalator at North Melbourne station platform 1 is dead yet again

Two days later platform 6 snatched it back.

Now the escalator at North Melbourne station platform 6 has died

Platform 2 went belly up on October 28, 2014.

Escalator to platform 2/3 at North Melbourne is still out of service

A day later the fancy ‘out of order’ sign was out, but no mechanics to fix the fault.

Escalator to platform 2/3 at North Melbourne is still out of service

With so many photos of failed escalators I am now starting to run out of witty captions – this was platform 6 on November 11.

Escalators to North Melbourne platform 6 out of order yet again

Platforms 4 and 5 appear to be the least trouble prone – this photo was from December 1, 2014.

Yet another escalator out of service at North Melbourne platforms 4 and 5

In the race to fail, with platform 2 and 3 racking up another win on February 3, 2015.

This time an escalator at North Melbourne platform 2/3 has broken down

At least this time there was technician there to fix it – they needed to pull out the electronics box at the top end.

Technicians having to fix the dodgy escalators at North Melbourne yet again

So which escalator failed the most?

Collating the data found above gives me this table. I have numbered the escalators 1A to 6B – east to west, based on platform number they serve.

Escalator 1A 1B 2 3 4 5 6A 6B
Failures 1 3 0 4 0 2 1 5

Looks like platform 6 is the big dud!

October 2012 to February 2015 is 29 months, and in that time I’ve seen the escalators at North Melbourne break at least 16 times – so that is once every two months. I’ve been working in Melbourne CBD Monday to Friday for that entire time, which suggests that the number of escalators failures could be higher, but probably not by a massive amount.

Finally, of the other railway stations I pass through, neither Southern Cross or the City Loop stations appear to have as escalators that fail as frequently – is there something in the water at North Melbourne?

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18 Responses to “Dud escalators at North Melbourne Station”

  1. Beren Scott says:

    Perhaps it’s the open design of the platform? Perhaps getting a lot of elements passing into it from around the side with the wind? Blah, honestly, I’d much prefer they just put in a bunch of stairs, at least those never break down. I think we are a spoilt society if we need an escalator to lift us such a short distance. I’m personally more pissed off at the complete and utter lack of seating on platform 1 and 2 of melbourne central. True? This station should be avoided late at night when waiting times can be up to 30 minutes.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      Both platforms 2/3 and 4/5 appear to have provision for a set of stairs to be added behind the lift – it does raise the question as to why only platforms 1 and 6 received them.

      As for the most efficient way to change platforms, a steep ramp like the north end of North Melbourne station seems like the best option. However I wonder if it would be considered acceptable under DDA regulations, even if a lift was also provided for those with limited mobility.

    • Tom the first and best. says:

      The weather hypothesis is supported by 6B being the most exposed escalator.

      This also likely explains why they, despite being much newer, they have many more faults that the City Loop escalators.

      The Escalators should get some more shelter.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      The passengers flows at North Melbourne are interesting – the ‘City Loop to platform 6 march’ of an evening is a strong one. However in the morning the flow is more balanced – passengers from direct trains change for the City Loop, matched by Craigieburn / Sunbury / Upfield line passengers headed for Southern Cross.

      • Tom the first and best. says:

        Presumably there are also some Flinders St passengers changing to direct services as well, rather than go around the loop. Presumeably there are less of them in the evening because they want seats on the way home and they are full before North Melbourne.

        • Marcus Wong says:

          There might be a few, but it would be interesting to compare it to the Burnley and Caulfield Group – with Flinders Street Station near the midpoint of the Northern Loop, the time saving between ‘direct’ and ‘loop’ trains is much smaller.

  2. Hung says:

    Thanks for doing a story Marcus

  3. James A says:

    And I thought the lifts at Laverton were bad! (Your next story? Haha)

    If one escalator is broken and there is no stairs, couldn’t they simply turn the operational one off so that it can temporarily act as bidirectional stairs? Or is that some kind of OH&S hazard?

  4. wxtre says:

    In the VRIOGS ‘Railway Station Design Standard and Guidelines’ it says escalators shall meet the following design and engineering considerations:

    a) Heavy duty construction;
    b) Weather proof if installation may be affected by the elements;

    I wonder whether these escalators are in compliance with these requirements.

    Escalators should not be the sole means of access to stations as they
    are non DDA compliant. Ramps should be built in combination with escalators in case of break down. Ramps are the preferred design for platform transfer. The old Edwardian Stations are an example.

  5. […] on the new station was completed in 2009. The years that followed have seen a plague of escalator breakdowns, as well as the bypassing of the station by most V/Line […]

  6. […] prophetic statement, given the issues encountered with the open air escalators at North Melbourne station since […]

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