The evolution of Sunshine railway station

This is the story of Sunshine station, and how a railway junction created in the 1880s became the meeting point it is today.

The early years

The story starts in 1860 when the Melbourne to Bendigo railway opened.

County of Bourke 1866

However the trigger for the development of Sunshine was the opening of the direct Melbourne to Ballarat railway in 1889, which met the Bendigo line south of Braybrook.

VPRS 12800/P1, item H 5360

A township called ‘Braybrook Junction‘ was soon established at the railway junction, and in 1906 industrialist H.V. McKay moved his Sunshine Harvester Works to the new township, expanding it to become the largest manufacturing plant in Australia.

SLV photo H2016.33/103

And by 1914 increasing traffic saw a new 80 lever signal box erected to direct trains.

VPRS 12800/P1, item H 5562

As well as a footbridge at the Hampshire Road level crossing.

Charles Daniel Photograph, SLV H2016.33/102

The railway divided Sunshine in two.

1942 Morgan’s Official Street Directory, map 59 and 60

But steam trains still ruled the rails.

Weston Langford photo

Enter grade separation

In 1957 approval was given to construct a standard gauge railway between Melbourne and Wodonga, paralleling the existing broad gauge railway to remove the break of gauge between Victoria and New South Wales. A route via Sunshine was chosen, since adding a fourth track through the Hampshire Road wasn’t an option, the level crossing was grade separated.

VPRS 12903/P1, item Box 681/53

Ready for the running of the first ‘through’ standard gauge train.

VPRS 12800/P1, item H 4815

For rail passengers the only change was the pedestrian subway used to access the station platforms.

Through ’62: Victorian Railways

But motorists were given a new web of new roads allowing them to fly through the middle of the Sunshine.

Melway 1966, map 40

Leaving the shops surrounded by speeding cars.

Museum Victoria item MM 92947

Including the Sunshine post office.

Massey Ferguson collection, item MM 118013

Towards a place for people, not cars

By the 1990s it was realised that a shopping strip full of hooning cars isn’t the nicest place to visit, so moves were made to reclaim the tangle of roads for people.

Melway 1999, map 40

1994 seeing a new bus interchange created outside the station.

Plaque marking the opening of the new City Place station entry on 6 October 1994

Located where the post office once was.

Google Street View 2009

It was expanded further in 2000, occupying the space between Dickson Street and the station.

Google Street View 2009

With the roads beneath Hampshire Road turned to buses only.

Google Street View 2009

But the station was the same as before.

EDI Comeng arrives into Sunshine with a down Watergardens service

A rickety timber shack.

Station building at Sunshine platform 1

Regional Rail Link

After years of proposals for extra tracks between Sunshine and the city, in 2009 the ‘Regional Rail Link’ project was given the go ahead.

Looking up the line from the existing suburban platforms

Sunshine station was rebuilt from the platform up.

Siemens 769M arrives into Sunshine station on the up

The bus interchange on the north-east side of the station upgraded.

Bus interchange on the north-east side of Sunshine station

And the bus only ramps beneath Hampshire Road turned over to pedestrians.

Google Earth 2020

Leaving us with the scene seen today.

Melway 2020, map 40

But the Hampshire Road bridge? It’s still there today.

EDI Comeng departs Sunshine on a down Sunbury service

Will the Melbourne Airport rail link and the ‘Sunshine Super Hub‘ change this – I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Footnote: the signal box

The 80 lever signal box was commissioned at Sunshine in 1914.

Disused signal box at Sunshine

The mechanical interlocking remained in service until 1996, when it was replaced by an Solid State Interlocking. This interlocking was itself replaced in 2014, with the signal box being closed in 2016 when control was transferred to the Metrol train control centre.


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7 Responses to “The evolution of Sunshine railway station”

  1. Andrew says:

    What will become of the signal box in the long term. Surely it must be preserved in some form?

    • Marcus Wong says:

      The signal box at Sunshine is only on the local Heritage Overlay.

      Unfortunately a common fate for disused signal boxes is to sit there until they get burnt down – like the one on McArthur Street in Ballarat back in 2012.

      Macarthur Street signal box looking south

      Occasionally they get restored – disused signal box at Ringwood was relocated to the station forecourt when upgrade works needed the land it stood on.

      Signal box relocated to the Ringwood station forecourt

      But LXRA bulldozed the signal box at Coburg to make way for their level crossing removal project.

      Disused signal box at the up end of Coburg station

  2. Graeme Oke says:

    A big wait and see is the redevelopment of Sunshine as a Hub with the mooted Airport rail link.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      It’ll sure be interesting how they fit additional tracks beneath the Hampshire Road bridge.

      • Tom the first and best says:

        For Airport Rail, the north end of Sunshine to the junction north of Albion station/Ballarat Rd is more likely to be where the extra track issues arise. Sunshine is more likely to get upgraded for Melton/Wyndham Vale electrification to grade separate the junction to avoid a mass of conflicting movements.

  3. Jason says:

    1994 the upgrade to interchange was for just the Westrans and then Metbus routes. The pre 2014 bus interchange didn”t open till 2000 when Sita routes moved across to the East Side

    If look closely at first 2009 pics you see the 2 408 stops(with brick work) they are from 1994 upgrade while other bus bays are from 2000 upgrade

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