More crumbling Melbourne railway stations

A few years have passed since I first noticed the crumbling state of railway stations in Melbourne, but our poorly maintained rail system doesn’t stand still – I’ve spotted two new examples since then.

X'Trapolis 36M passes through Camberwell with an up express service


The first is Hawksburn. The current station building were completed in 1914, as part of the duplication and grade separation of the railway between South Yarra and Caulfield. The main station building is located on the central island platform, with smaller structures sheltering the entrances to platforms 1 and 4.

EDI Comeng arrives into Hawksburn on an up City Loop service

It is the waiting shelter on platform 1 that has started to crack, as the soil behind bears down upon the brick wall.

Cracked station building at Hawksburn platform 1

As a result, steel girders and rod have been put into place to prevent the wall from falling towards the platform.

Steel girder and rod reinforces the cracked station building at Hawksburn platform 1

And Camberwell

But Camberwell station really takes dilapidation to a new level. The current Edwardian style station was completed in 1919, following the regrading of the tracks between Hawthorn and East Camberwell. The main station building serves platforms 1 and 2, with platform 3 having a smaller structure to protect waiting passengers.

X'Trapolis 175M arrives into Camberwell with a down Riversdale service

The first issue I spotted was on the cantilevered concrete beams that support the station footbridge. On the south side of the station, there was only minor water damage.

Original condition cantilevered concrete beams on the south side of Camberwell station

But on the north side was a much deeper issue – the concrete clad steel girders had been cleaned off, in what appeared to be an effort to address concrete cancer in the structure.

Rehabilitated cantilevered concrete beams on the north side of Camberwell station

Meanwhile on platform 3 were similar issues to the deteriorating structure at Hawksburn – cracked brickwork in the station building. Large cracks were visible at the Ringwood end.

Massive cracks, and plywood covered steel supports reinforcing the station building at Camberwell platform 3

With more cracks at the city end.

Cracked wall at Camberwell platform 3

But unlike Hawksburn, permanent repairs have yet to be completed – instead steel supports have been jerry rigged beneath the archways to reinforcing the structure, hidden behind hastily erected plywood sheets.

Plywood covered steel supports reinforcing the station building at Camberwell platform 3

By mid-August I took a closer look at the cracks.

Cracked brick archways at Camberwell platform 3

Further remediation works had commenced.

Steel rod reinforces cracked archways at Camberwell platform 3

Steel rod being used to reinforce the failing archways.

Steel rod reinforces failing archways at Camberwell platform 3

Mortar used to fill in the cracks.

Steel rod reinforces cracked archways at Camberwell platform 3

And surveying markers put in place to monitor any future movement.

Surveying markers to monitor failing archways at Camberwell platform 3

Given the lack of interest by those in charge to properly invest in maintenance and renewal of Melbourne’s rail network, I can only see the number of crumbing station buildings grow as the years go by.


Here you can find my 2013 piece on the crumbling station building at Newmarket.

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6 Responses to “More crumbling Melbourne railway stations”

  1. rohan storey says:

    Yes they are crumbling, but in these cases, not really due to neglect (except for the concrete cancer and what an awful solution!) but because of the recent post-drought cracking that seems to be happening a lot lately around Melbourne (though I don’t know why).

    You can see that all of those cracks have existed before (during the drought? Earlier?), and been filled, but now cracking again. Cracks like those are v hard to deal with, and are especially dangerous in the single leaf wall structures where it seems to be most prominent (doesn’t help that they are also partly retaining walls).

    The pinning with steel is unsightly but I think the only other solutions are underpinning (very expensive and not guaranteed to work) or complete deconstruction and reconstruction. I’m afraid until funds are found for extensive fixes like those, the steel stuff will stay forever.

  2. rohan storey says:

    You should have a look at Toorak station – same period, also in a cutting, I bet the single wall structures there (platforms 1 +4) will be having the same problems.

  3. rohan storey says:

    Some more detail from someone who knows who does what on our stations – the work is fine by an engineering subtractive, and approved by the metro trains engineer, who is more concerned with effectiveness than aesthetics.

    And yes, it’s about wet following drought making subsidence worse, and the best repair would be underpinning, though it won’t make the biggest cracks disappear, just prevent more.

  4. Heihachi_73 says:

    You should take a look at Mitcham platform 2 at the up end. What took 100 years for Camberwell and Hawksburn stations to start cracking, took one year for Mitcham to start falling apart and seeping water.

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