1960s plans for Waverley Park expansion: South East Melbourne dodged a bullet

On Grand Final Day the Herald Sun ran an article about plans from the 1960s which would have seen the now defunct AFL Park - aka Waverley or Arctic Park - see its capacity rise to 157,000 patrons. The numbers are broken down into 126,000 seats and standing room for a further 31,000.

Similarly the plans envisioned space for an eye-popping amount of cars: 25,000. These were truly the glory days of auto-centric thought-bubbles and planning.

You can view the brochure which has been scanned by Anthony Costa.

On top of the space for 25,000 car parks there were plans for a 1,150 seat function room, 700 seat restaurant, corporate boxes which could fit 2,200 patrons, another oval as well as indoor swimming, baseball, basketball, athletics and gymnastics facilities and interestingly a 300 capacity bus terminal.

Using the Grand Final as an example and the inevitable "filling up" of the stadium, had the plans gone ahead (and if the stadium was still there!), moving 157,000 people in and out of the site would have been diabolical.

In auto-utopia, 25,000 cars could effectively carry 100,000 of the total 157,000, but the rarity of cars having a passenger in each of its seats spells the end of that idea. There would still be a heavy reliance on public transport.

If we assume the average occupancy of each car would have been a more realistic 2 people, 50,000 would have arrived by car to the stadium, leaving the remaining 107,000 for public transport.

The 1969 Melbourne Transportation Plan which is synonymous with the freeways we now have also saw proposals for the Rowville Rail Line which would have served the site. But even the rail line's capacity to move large amounts of people on days where the stadium would have been filled are dubious.

The original Rowville Line plan - as opposed to the line by the same name many are familiar with which was studied under the previous State Government - would have seen a link between Huntingdale and Ferntree Gully throughout the North/Wellington Road corridor creating an outer suburban loop line.

At the end of 1972 the Hitachi trains were introduced to Melbourne's network and according to documentation from the early 80s the maximum capacity for these trains was 1500 people.

For simplicity's sake, if the need for trains to interact with existing lines to transport people further beyond the scope of the Rowville line is disregarded, a two track railway out the front of Waverley on Wellington Road using the crush load figures for Hitachi trains would have had capacity to move 30,000 passengers per hour in each direction. And that figure assumes a very high frequency of 20 trains an hour during game / special event times.

In reality the Rowville Rail line would have needed to interact with both the Belgrave line and Dandenong lines (and fight for capacity) thus bringing down the capacity figures further.

If the Rowville line were constructed only as far as Rowville and became a branch of the Dandenong corridor, the passenger movement capacity would have been halved (as there would be no train paths to the Belgrave Line).

Similarly the 300 bay bus terminal would have had capacity to move in the region of 20,000-25,000 people in an hour, if you assume every bus had the same crush capacity as those that do today: 68 passengers per bus.

50,000 by car, 30,000-60,000 by train, 20,000-25,000 people by bus. We're getting closer to 157,000, but not quite yet.

Kudos to the VFL for being bold however it's at this point I'm giving up even attempting to make sense of how people would have been able to get to and from the site with relative ease and without much of a delay on key event days; the "back of the envelope" numbers where I've been overly generous in some cases just don't make sense.

And thankfully, we dodged that 1960s bullet. Contrast it with Tullamarine Airport - the other 1960s/1970s era mega-project - and its lack of public transport access: just yesterday a $1.3 billion project to expand the Tullamarine Freeway and City Link kicked off.

Lead image credit: Herald Sun

3 comments

Andrew's picture

And one stage when the Rowville rail was deemed too expensive it was to be a Monorail up North/Wellington Road.

Take that, Ogdanville and North Haverbrook.

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Nicholas Harrison's picture

It also would have meant that the MCG would be much smaller than it is today without the extra $$$ from the AFL.

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Carlo Zeccola's picture

Is there a chance the track could bend?

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