Prahran station and a pitiful political promise

Leading up to every election, politicians from all parties pull out their wallets and start flinging money around on promises to the electorate – new roads, railway lines, hospitals and schools are a common theme. However during the knife edge fight for the seat of Prahran at the 2014 State Election, the promise was a lot lower budget – an additional exit at the local railway station.

Alstom Comeng 597M departs Prahran station with an up Sandringham service

Labor candidate for Prahran Neil Pharaoh fired the first salvo in April 2014:

Labor candidate for Prahran petitions for second entrance at Prahran train station
Holly McKay
Stonnington Leader
April 16, 2014

A petition for a second pedestrian entrance at Prahran station has been set up by the Labor candidate for Prahran.

Neil Pharaoh is campaigning for a second gate at High St, which he believes will make catching the train “easier and safer”.

Mr Pharaoh said if he can get more than 300 signatures he will put the suggestion forward as an election commitment for Labor.

But that would still not guarantee Labor committing to it as an election promise.

According to 2011-12 patronage figures — the most recent available — Prahran records about 24,000 passenger entries each weekday, making it the 34th busiest station on the metro network.

Nearly 95 per cent of train passengers walk to the station.

Mr Pharaoh said an extra entrance to platform 1 would reduce crowding and make it quicker and safer for residents to catch the train to the city.

“I get to the station from High St and it’s really frustrating to have to travel all the way to the Greville St end to get my train,” Mr Pharaoh said.

“Plus at peak hour, the entrance gets jammed, so people regularly miss their trains.

“It’s frustrating and it’s so easily fixed by building a second entrance from High St. This simple change will make it much easier and more comfortable to catch the train from Prahran station.”

Prahran resident Steve Lopez said a gate at the High St end would make his trip to work much easier.

“There is nothing worse than having to get to the Greville St end to get on the platform — especially when this means sprinting all the way from High St so I don’t miss the train when I’m running late,” he said.

Prahran state Liberal MP Clem Newton-Brown said the Coalition government had recently installed a second gate on Platform 2.

“As far as future improvements go I’m happy to consider other ideas,” he said.

The petition is available online at Neil Pharaoh’s campaign website or will be made available to commuters ad-hoc on weekdays.

It looks like the petition for a second entrance went somewhere at Labor HQ, because by the time September rolled around, it was now an election promise.

Prahran train station to receive a second entrance and two extra ticket readers in Labor is elected
Holly McKay
Stonnington Leader
September 13, 2014

Prahran train station will receive a second entrance and two extra ticket readers if Labor wins the November state election.

Opposition public transport spokeswoman Jill Hennessy and ALP candidate for Prahran Neil Pharaoh made the announcement this week.

Mr Pharaoh has been campaigning for a second pedestrian entrance at the station since April, saying he believes a second gate at High St will make catching the train “easier and safer”.

“As a regular user of Prahran station, I know first- hand the frustration of not having a second entrance,” Mr Pharaoh said.

“Commuters just want to get to their destination quickly and safely, whether that be work, school, or home.”

According to 2011-12 data – the most recent available – Prahran Station has about 24,000 passenger entries between Monday and Friday, making it the 34th-busiest on the metro network.

Labor did not confirm how much the project would cost or a timeline, instead saying in a statement that “station improvements will be funded by existing departmental resources and delivered as soon as possible if Labor is elected”.

Not to be outgunned, incumbent Liberal MP Clem Newton-Brown must have tapped the shoulder of Denis Napthine, and so the Liberal Party matched the promise:

Liberal Party come out in support of Prahran station improvements
Holly McKay
Stonnington Leader
October 03, 2014

Election promises are coming in thick and fast for the seat of Prahran, with the local train station set to receive a $160,000 upgrade if the Liberals hold power.

Premier Denis Napthine and Prahran state Liberal MP Clem Newton-Brown matched an earlier pledge by Labor candidate Neil Pharaoh and announced the funding to construct a second entrance at the Prahran Station if the Coalition Government is re-elected in November.

The Liberal project will also include enhanced lighting and extra CCTV surveillance.

Dr Napthine said the upgrade would cater for Prahran’s growing population, and was part of a bigger transport infrastructure program.

Mr Newton-Brown said the project would make travelling by public transport more convenient for the Prahran community.

“Commuters exiting the station and walking towards High St will have their journeys shortened by approximately 200 metres as a result of this upgrade,” Mr Newton-Brown said.

“It will also reduce passenger queues at the station, which is used by approximately 24,000 people per week.”

Prahran Labor candidate Neil Pharaoh had previously announced a commitment to install a second gate at Prahran Station, as well as two new ticketing machines.

However those promises came to nothing – local residents decided to give the two big parties the boot, and elected Greens candidate Sam Hibbins to represent them.

Siemens train arrives at Prahran station with an up Sandringham service

Mr Hibbins asked the new Minister for Public Transport about progress on the station entrance in March 2015, with a response being given a month later:

Question on Notice: Second entrance for Prahran station

Mr Hibbins to ask the Minister for Public Transport —

With reference to the Government’s election commitment of a second entrance and two extra Myki readers at Prahran Station:

  1. What are the details of the proposed works.
  2. When will the works be completed.
  3. What is the total budget for the works.

Answer:

I am informed that, as at the date the question was raised:

(1) The Victorian Government remains committed to providing an additional entry/exit point with two additional myki readers toward the High Street end of Platform 1 (City bound platform) at Prahran station.

This initiative will improve connectivity and ease of access for commuters accessing High Street including access for tram Route 6 which operates between Melbourne University and Glen Iris. At the conclusion of the project both Platform 1 and 2 will have two entry/exit locations.

(2-3)
Public Transport Victoria (PTV) has completed scoping of the proposal including engagement with the City of Stonnington. Works are expected to be completed by end of the 2014–15 financial year, utilising existing internal PTV funds.

And just to prove that pitiful promises can be fulfilled, June 2015 saw the official opening of the second station entrance. Having lost the lower house seat of Prahran, Member for Southern Metropolitan, Philip Dalidakis, was instead given the honour of cutting the ribbon.

Promised and Delivered: Making Your Commute Easier in Prahran
June 24, 2015

Member for Southern Metropolitan, Philip Dalidakis, today opened a second entrance at Prahran Station, making it quicker and easier for locals to get to the train.

The new entrance and extra myki readers was a key election commitment of the Andrews Labor Government and will reduce congestion at the busy station, which is used by 25,000 passengers every week.

The new entrance is particularly helpful for those wanting to get to and from High St, addressing a long-standing problem for commuters.

Previously, passengers getting off the train at the end of Platform 1 who wanted to get to High St had to walk the length of the platform to get out of the Station, before doubling-back and walking the same distance again along the footpath.

By allowing passengers to enter and exit the station half-way along Platform 1, the new entrance shortens the walk by approximately 200 meters for commuters.

Mr Dalidakis also thanked the City of Stonnington, which worked closely with the Labor Government on this project.

A new shelter has also recently been installed on Platform 1, which compliments the new entrance.

It just goes to show how politicised the provision of public transport in Melbourne has become – even adding an extra gate to a railway station involves three political parties and an election campaign!

Additional station access opened at the down end of Prahran platform 1

Footnote

Did you notice how the cost of the works was estimated at $160,000 – when the works involved the removal of a single piece of fence, followed by the installation of two ticket validators and some asphalt.

Some other thoughts

In 2014 Melborune-based economist Jason Murphy pondered the question of adding additional station entrances in his post ‘Faster train journeys – some low-hanging fruit‘. Professor David Levinson also asked the same question in his 2017 post ‘Sydney train stations need two exits‘.

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12 Responses to “Prahran station and a pitiful political promise”

  1. Craig says:

    Lucky there wasn’t a ribbon cutting for the other 100 odd stations to gain a second entry/exit?

    Maybe some of the $160,000 went towards advertising of the new entry/exit. It’s part of the plan.

  2. Beren Scott says:

    $160k is spot on for this type of work. first you are looking at fencing off the area, maybe you need a portable storage building? you need to trench power and ethernet to the myki readers, which might have to travel to the other end of the platform. then you have the cost of those readers. this is the hidden cost of myki, all those second gates that were slowly installed have probably cost more then the ticketing system itself. would love to see the grand total. would make a great news story, nudge nudge wink wink 😉

    • Marcus Wong says:

      It makes me wonder – if the myki system wasn’t as slow to respond to each touch on/off they might not have had to spend so much $$$ rolling out the extra readers!

      The only downside is when the additional readers are adjacent to the existing station entrances, instead of at a new location that would expand the ‘pedshed’ of the station.

  3. Aljosa V says:

    In addition to the above comments don’t forget to add the cost of the shelters. So the 160k is reasonably well spent.

  4. Tom the first and best says:

    This is a good project. Small but worthwhile. The other entrance is down near Greville St but there is the path to to High St, which has trams. This project, combined with the previous addition of the extra entrance on platform 2 (unfortunately close to the station building) provides better access to High St and thus increases the catchment of the station.

    Additional city-bound platform entrances should be considered at other stations where the catchment would be increased.

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