On the train to Flemington for Melbourne Cup Day

Today is Horse Slaughter Day, so let’s jump on a train to Flemington Racecourse.

X'Trapolis 35M arrives into Flemington Racecourse platform 1

On the train

Trains start at Flinders Street Station.

Flemington Races service on the next train displays at Flinders Street platform 9

First stop Southern Cross.

Melbourne Cup crowd exits the train at Southern Cross

Then North Melbourne.

X'Trapolis 78M arrives into North Melbourne on a down race special

Then takes the high level tracks towards the Craigieburn line.

Siemens on a down Showgrounds special passes N474 stabled in the V/Line arrivals roads at North Melbourne

Passing over Moonee Ponds Creek.

X'Trapolis train crosses Moonee Ponds Creek on an empty car move from Flemington Racecourse

Trains to the Showgrounds and Flemington Racecourse run express through Kensington and Newmarket stations.

'Trains to the Showgrounds and Flemington Racecourse do not stop here' sign at Kensington station

Where they branch off from the Craigieburn line.

X'Trapolis 17M rejoins the main line at Newmarket with an up race special

Heading past the Showgrounds.

Looking over the rostrum signal box and ticket office at Showgrounds station

Until they reach Flemington Racecourse.

X'Trapolis 232M departs Flemington Racecourse platform 2 minus passengers on Melbourne Cup day

Where you can make your way to the track.

Myki readers lead to Flemington Racecourse platform 1

Past a massive bank of Myki readers.

A bank of 18 myki FPDs at one exit of Flemington Racecourse platform 2

Because everything seems to go wrong

A whole lot of drunks onboard a train are a recipe for disaster.

So Victoria Police and Authorised Officers keep an eye on the situation.

Victoria Police and Authorised Officers waiting at Flemington Racecourse platform 2

Armed with a supply of vomit bags.

Stash of vomit bags waiting at Flemington Racecourse station on Melbourne Cup day

As a high profile event it’s also a magnet for protests. On Melbourne Cup Day 2017 refugee activists abandoned a car on the tracks in order to stop trains.


ABC News photo

So in the years that followed Metro Trains staff and a backhoe loader keep an eye on the Ascot Vale Road level crossing.

Metro Trains staff and a backhoe loader keep an eye on the Ascot Vale Road level crossing

Equipment failures can also cause problems, such as Oaks Day 2008 when equipment failures shut down trains, stranding thousands of passengers.


The Age photo

So to avoid a occurrence, signalling and track gangs are now on standby, ready to respond.

Metro Trains signals and track gangs on standby at Newmarket

But the weather is always a hazard, with trains stopped in 2018 thanks to flash flooding.


Metro Trains Melbourne photo

Which required an expensive fix – digging up the tracks to install an upgraded drainage system.

Loading the spoil train with the contents of Flemington Racecourse platform 2

And what about the rest of the year?

The railway to the racecourse doesn’t sit empty all year – trains also serve minor race meets at Flemington.

Alstom Comeng at the Flemington Racecourse platform after running a race special

Running from platform 8 at Southern Cross Station.

Life extension EDI Comeng 472M arrives into Southern Cross platform 8 with an Oktoberfest special from the Showgrounds

And empty trains also stable along the line outside of peak times.

EDI Comeng stabled for the weekend at Flemington Racecourse

A second life during major works

Flemington Racecourse has also used as a interchange location for rail replacement buses during major works, such as the Regional Rail Link project back in 2011.

Temporary stairs from the bus interchange to the platform at Flemington Racecourse

Temporary steps linking the platform and bus interchange.

Passengers head down to the Flemington Racecourse platform from the bus interchange

Where a fleet of buses was waiting.

Still more buses up at the Flemington Racecourse interchange

And unexpected visitors

Finally, the Flemington Racecourse line is a popular destination for railfan tours, such as this 1999 outing with the restored Tait set.


Weston Langford photo

In 2009 steam locomotive R707 paid a visit on a 707 Operations mystery tour of suburbia.

R707 simmering away in the Flemington Racecourse platform

I visited Flemington in 2012 aboard railcar RM58 on a tour run by DERMPAV.

Changing ends again, this time at Flemington Racecourse

And Steamrail Victoria visited in 2013 with steam locomotive K153.

Flemington Racecourse, with not long to go for the semaphore signals

But that isn’t the only unusual visitors to the line – diesel locomotives have used the line to assist during trackwork.

B75 with T386 on a push-pull spoil train at Flemington Racecourse

And finally in 2020 I found a High Capacity Metro Train waiting at Flemington Racecourse – completing testing before their entry to service.

HCMT set 3 on arrival at Flemington Racecourse

Footnote: some history

The Flemington Racecourse line was opened by the Melbourne and Essendon Railway Company in February 1861, as a branch from their railway to Essendon.

The company failed three years later, with the railway laying idle until 1867 when it was taken over by the Victorian Railways and reopened.

The line was electrified in 1918 for testing of Melbourne’s brand new electric trains, with the first train running in October 1918.


PROV image VPRS 12800/P0001 H 2547

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2 Responses to “On the train to Flemington for Melbourne Cup Day”

  1. Anthony Y says:

    It’s not quite clear in the photo, but which line colour is in use on the Flinders Street PID for racecourse trains?

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