‘Signs you’re doing it wrong’ at Mentone station

I paid a visit to Mentone recently, taking a look at the new station opened in July 2021 following the removal of the Balcombe Road level crossing. However there are a few ‘signs’ that the Level Crossing Removal Authority’s design is flawed.

EDI Comeng 495M departs Mentone on the up

On leaving the station, I found a loooong flight of steps linking the station with Como Parade West.

Loooong flight of steps links Mentone station with Como Parade

I had a pram with me, so I had to take the loooong zig zag ramp instead.

Loooong zig zag ramp links Mentone station with Como Parade

The ramps down to the platform weren’t much better.

Ramps between platform and concourse level at Mentone station

Running from platform level below ground, past street level – but with no access – ending on the elevated concourse

Ramps between platform and concourse level at Mentone station

On Como Parade West the heritage listed station building had been restored.

Heritage listed station building and gardens at Mentone now restored

But the bus stops outside were untouched.

Transdev bus #1155 BS05DN on route 903 at Mentone station

1980s brick and only a handful of bus shelters for waiting passengers.

Spartan looking bus interchange at Mentone station

Behind the shops on Como Parade West I found a nice grassy area, but it didn’t lead anywhere – just a concrete wall facing the giant zigzag ramps.

Siemens 741M departs Mentone on the up

While on the other side was a sea of car parking.

Car park fills the northern half of the former Mentone station site

The driveway to which featured a ‘Pedestrians obey traffic signals’ sign.

'Pedestrians obey traffic signals' sign at the entrance to the Mentone station car park

I gave up on waiting for the pedestrian lights to change, so continued along the endless car park instead.

Car park fills the northern half of the former Mentone station site

Luckily the ‘Parkiteer’ cage for bicycle parking was right outside the station entrance.

Parkiteer cage at Mentone station

But it appears demand was underestimated – temporary ‘Wheelie’ bike racks had also been provided next door.

'Wheelie' bike racks outside the entrance to Mentone station

And cycling routes were an afterthought – a sign on the main concourse reading “CYCLISTS DISMOUNT – walk your bike on the ramps and through the Mentone Station precinct”.

'CYCLISTS DISMOUNT - walk your bike on the ramps and through the Mentone Station precinct' sign

But the final piece of a flawed design – access to the station from the east.

Fence added at Mentone to block the desire line between the east station entrance and the surrounding streets

The original design neglected a formal path between the station entry and Station Street, so an informal one was soon worn, until somebody noticed it – and blocked it off with a fence!

Fence added at Mentone to block the desire line between the east station entrance and the surrounding streets

So how much did this half-baked level crossing removal cost? A total of $536 million – including the removal of three level crossings at Balcombe Road in Mentone, Charman Road and Park Road in Cheltenham, and two new stations at Cheltenham and Mentone.

The only upside seems to be the colour – blue.

Alstom Comeng 639M arrives into Mentone on the up

Unlike previous level crossing removal projects that were a sea of grey, Mentone station has received it’s own unique colour – neighbouring Cheltenham station appearing in gold.

Footnote – why so many steps?

The reason for the elevated concourse reached by long ramps and stairs is the ‘hybrid’ trench design. The railway line dives below ground to pass beneath Balcombe Road, then rises slightly into the new station at Mentone.

Alstom Comeng 602M arrives into Mentone on the down

It then rises again to ground level after the station.

Alstom Comeng 611M trails a down service out of Mentone

This design reduces the amount of excavation required to construct a rail-under-road grade separation, but results in a station concourse raised above ground level, and requires the station platforms to be located away from the road, extending the distance to connecting bus routes.

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21 Responses to “‘Signs you’re doing it wrong’ at Mentone station”

  1. Beren says:

    The most ugly level crossing removal was Reservoir. They decided to go with black as the colour. So the concrete is grey, the steel and pylons are black. Many stations get blue, green orange. This one gets an ugly black. It’s horrible.

  2. Matthew Gilbert says:

    The Surrey Hills replacement station will have the same problems with stairs and the entrance being a long way from disabled parking

  3. Rob says:

    Having to put signage up that says “cyclists dismount” or “pedestrians obey traffic signals” means that your design has failed. Good design should be intuitive and not need signage to tell people how to act

    Seems like they tried to do too much, and ended up with a poor outcomes across the board. Something to be said about biting off more than you can chew

  4. Peter Parker says:

    Mentone is a great case study for a lesson on how you can spend $$$ and get worst access outcomes than what was there before. We could have done better, like Ormond up the line. Comparison video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zep26UhNyxQ

  5. Matthew Gilbert says:

    They are about to do all these wrong things again at the Mont Albert / Surrey Hill station replacement. A long way from everything. Parking, buses, disabled access, are all far away from the actual station.

  6. Jeff Cooper says:

    The new Mentone station is good with no problems

  7. Andrew says:

    Is the lift not a convenient way to avoid stairs and the long ramp?

    • Marcus Wong says:

      The lift takes you straight onto the concourse, so is quicker in that regard. But if the train is busy, you might be waiting a long time until there is space for you to board!

  8. Heihachi_73 says:

    Heatherdale station is also blue, and the only station on the Ringwood line so coloured. They missed the ball on that one as well, IIRC when the station first opened there were originally no direct entry/exit points to the car parks located either side of the platforms, leaving a long walk up to Heatherdale Rd in order to access the station. After some complaints, additional exits were added to both sides (and next to the Parkiteer cage outside the up platform) so you don’t have to walk up and over to access the car parks. Unfortunately, there was still no provision for a pedestrian underpass linking the two sides, so you still have to walk up and over if you park there.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      The connections at Heatherdale station between platform and car park look to have been part of the original design – they just sat there unused until all of the landscaping was done.

      Ramp linking concourse to the platform and eastern car park at the new Heatherdale station

  9. Francis E says:

    Having grown up in Mentone, and still going there several times a week, I have to say it *is* a vast improvement over what was there, both for pedestrians and motor vehicles. It’s not as good as it could have been, but some of that is down to Kingston Council.

    Unfortunately, Kingston produced a structure plan for Mentone and executed it *after* the LXRA had started their public consultations and planning. The plaza across Como Pd. W. outside the station entrance used to be a road. LXRA modified their design to fit in with that, I think even moving the station. Most of the bus stops were supposed to move to just south of the station, and the existing bus stops to get replaced by angle parking, but that hasn’t happened yet. And bus interchange isn’t as important as you might think: there is huge walk-up traffic due to the 5 schools within walking distance of the station. And the new station is closer to 4 of them than the old one was (farther away from Mentone Girls’ Secondary).

    The LXRA did add a ped crossing over Balcombe Rd. from the bike/walking track which runs north along the rail line. Pedestrians used to regularly jaywalk here, and it was very dangerous. The bike crossing there is, however, almost comically narrow. It’s as if whoever specified it had never actually ridden a bike. It will be interesting to see whether Kingston has a change of heart over bikes in Mentone village. At one point they outright banned them, with Bicycles Prohibited signs on all approaches – up until then, I had often cycled there instead of driven. With a school right across from the station, this might be the place for Melbourne’s first Dutch-style parking garage.

    Yes, the ramps are long, but the old pedestrian underpass was steep and slippery, and I actually took a tumble there as a fit teenager running for a train. The new is not worse than the old. I rather like the steps.

    As a road user, the level crossing was much needed, and this is, after all, a major centre in the bayside area which has successful transit-oriented developments. It was nothing unusual to take 10 minutes to get across the train line, and the traffic jams at school pickup times were epic – think 35 minutes to get out of the shopping centre.

    I noticed the same things about the eastern side when it opened as you did. The Council can’t be blamed for that.

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