Then, now and in between at Footscray station

Here’s a special “then an now” comparison for you – four different scenes at Footscray, featuring the olden days, 1990s malaise, the short lived “Colander Bridge“, and today.

Step inside

We start at the main entrance to the station, where a steep ramp once directed passengers down to the intersection of Irving and Leeds Street.

In the years that followed shops were built either side of the station entrance, but the decrepit bridge still remained – the only changes being asphalt over the deck, and cyclone fences replacing timber.

Ramp from the footbridge down to the Irving / Leeds Street intersection

But big changes were coming – work on a new $28 million footbridge and forecourt stated in 2009. Early works saw the shops to the eastern side of the station demolished.

Main access from the station to the north

Making way for the “Colander Bridge” – unlike the old bridge, it had lift access and a roof, but poor design meant that it let in rain every time it rained!

The Colander Bridge leaking, as it does every time it rains

But the flawed bridge had another problem – it was in the way of the new Regional Rail Link tracks that were about to be built through Footscray, so the northern end had to be demolished – a temporary staircase being provided when work started in 2013.

Temporary staircase linking the station footbridge to Irving Street

Eventually leading to the stairs, escalators, ramps and lifts found at the current iteration of the station, completed in 2014.

Steps down to Irving Street from the Footscray station footbridge

Heading down to the platform

Now we’re atop the footbridge, looking down on what was then called platform 3, as passengers from a St Albans train head up the ramp.

By 2009 the decrepit looking footbridge was still there but the timber handrails had been replaced by cyclone fencing, and now led to platform 2 – in 1974 platforms 1, 2, 3, and 4 were renumbered as 4, 3, 2, and 1.

Ramp down to platform 2, closed to public access, soon to be removed

The Colander Bridge replaced the ramp with a set of covered stairs.

Passengers climb the new stairs from platform 4

But they didn’t even last three years – the Regional Rail Link project turned them into rubble, replacing them with a brand new set of stairs at the same location, just a smidge wider and with a new hat.

Steps down to Footscray platform 4 and 5

Down on the platform

We’re back at ground level on the central island platform, which was then numbered 2 and 3.


PROV image VPRS 12800/P1, item H 2253

Completion of the Colander Bridge in 2010 changed the scene, the tubular footbridge much larger than the rickety timber structure that came before.

Steps up to the footbridge from Footscray platform 2 and 3

And Regional Rail Link changed it further, adding ramps and escalators between bridge and platform.

Ramps and stairs link platform 4 and 5 to the overhead concourse

And finally – under the bridge

The footbridge looked even more rickety when viewed from down below on what is today’s platform 4.


PROV image VPRS 12800/P0007, item C 0424

So the completion of the Colander Bridge in 2010 was welcomed, despite the leaks.

Siemens 724M stops for passengers at Footscray station on a down Sydenham service

But the biggest changes came with Regional Rail Link in 2014, which rebuilt the existing track pair.

Applying the finishing touches to the new RRL platforms 3 and 4

And constructed a second pair of tracks between Footscray and Sunshine, separating suburban and V/Line trains.

VLocity VL07 and classmate on the down at Footscray

Footnote – those stupidly placed escalators

You might be looking at the escalators that serve Footscray platform 4 and 5, and think “why the hell is the path to them so convoluted?”

Escalators linking platform 4 and 5 to the overhead bridge

Pissy poor planning is to blame – the designers of the original Colander Bridge didn’t plan for escalators to be included, so when the Regional Rail Link project went to retrofit them, there wasn’t enough room between station building and bridge to fit them.

As a result they had to the moved to the opposite side of the footbridge, with users having to make a 180 degree turn upon reaching the top, and then walk back to the bridge proper. As a result, the stairs are more popular than the escalators, as they are the most direct route.

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8 Responses to “Then, now and in between at Footscray station”

  1. Steve Gelsi says:

    Never heard it called the ‘Colander Bridge’ before!

  2. Andrew says:

    I never use those escalators, always the lift.

  3. Paul Westcott says:

    You didn’t mention another problem with the colander bridge. Train drivers complained that its shiny metal reflected the sun into their eyes at certain times, momentarily blinding them.

    I don’t recall what was done about that, if anything.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      In November 2009 they put a 30 km/h speed restriction on trains approaching the bridge as a mitigation, it was removed in March/April 2010. I suspect some kind of tint or paint was applied to the relevant bits of the bridge to reduce the amount of light reflected.

  4. arfman says:

    Whoever designs all these bridges and shelters in Melbourne, I wonder if they realised that a lot of our rain potentially get swept in from the side, but the infrastructure we have doesn’t seem to reflect this.

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