The drip feed of information on the Melbourne Metro Rail project website continues, with a recent update featuring an interactive map to be used for consultation purposes, along with brochures providing increasing detail about each station and portal precinct.
Perhaps one of the most important parts of the placement of a station on a rail line is how and where users will access the underground structures. The brochures now display proposed entrance locations for each station and they are summarised with my comments below. Each image can be expanded for a larger view.
The brochure for Domain Station appears to take the sensible approach in the location of proposed station entrances. We may love our major boulevards to walk down or look at, but when it comes to crossing them in traffic, the wait times are generally less than pleasant. Therefore the proposed locations, one on the eastern side of St Kilda Road for the Shrine and one on the western side of St Kilda Road for the local area, make sense.
The only question overhanging the station entrances in this diagram: will there in fact be two station entrances - one for each of the two island platforms recently built as part of the Domain Interchange upgrade - or some other design?
For Flinders Street, the proposed entrance at Federation Square is welcome, likewise is an entrance from Collins Street. The location of the proposed Collins Street entrance seems to suggest it will use a portion of City Square, most likely impacting the on-and-off again water wall.
At Federation Square the proposed station location appears to be adjacent to the underground section of the Melbourne Visitors Centre.
The proposed entrance located in the middle of the Flinders Street/Flinders Lane/Elizabeth Street/Swanston Street block appears to be the existing entrance connecting to the main pedestrian subway. My question is, will there be a connection from the new underground platforms to the existing subway?
Last week it became evident that an entrance was proposed for the north side of La Trobe Street. Now the brochure for Melbourne Central also depicts another northerly entrance in Franklin Street.
Given the City Baths are located on the northern side of Franklin Street, that it is a very sensitive building and the
Communist Brutalist Blocks of RMIT provide little room on the southern side's footpath, the placement of the proposed station appears to be in the median of Franklin Street.
Might we see the closure of Franklin Street, or at least the Swanston Street end, turned into a plaza with the station entrance as the centrepiece? The mind boggles with wider urban design opportunities if the half-closure route was taken with this station entrance.
The broad location of proposed station entrances at Parkville appear to provide sufficient coverage in the area. One of the first comments on the interactive map raised the lack of an entrance on the north west corner of the Grattan Street/Royal Parade intersection, where the Royal Melbourne Hospital is located, which would serve the Women's, RMH, University High School WEHI.
The proposed entrance on the south western corner of the intersection where the VCCC is should be set in stone, as it is on the same side of Grattan Street for people who may wish to connect with the Flemington Road trams (Flemington Road tram super-stop is on the south side of Grattan Street in the Flemington Road median).
If there were any slack in the overall project budget, I would allocate more to this station: delete the entrance on the north east corner of the intersection and revert to the previous concepts, which showed a large island platform in the middle of Royal Parade for a tram-train interchange. This would be a compromise solution for lack of an entrance on the RMH block (people bound for the Hospital block would not have to cross an entire road, only half of one), but enhance the tram-train connection opportunities.
Having an underground corridor all the way under Grattan Street so that entrances to the station concourse could be placed directly on the Flemington Road tram stops would also be a nice-to-have, however the proposed entrance on the VCCC block effectively does this job, albeit with a half-boulevard crossing at Flemington Road.
Arden is problematic. On every concept made public over the years, it was clear from the start Arden would be isolated, having no meaningful connections to other lines or modes in the area; the map above really brings this message home.
The site which this station resides on currently sees various industrial uses. The angle and placement of the "potential" station entrances seems to allude that a fraction of the current titles in the area would be acquired by the authority and rezoning could then enable redevelopment to occur on adjacent sites.
There is likely going to be a need for very intensive redevelopment in this area, in order to get the benefits side up against the costs in a cost-benefit analysis. All eyes are on City of Melbourne to see what they do with their Arden-Macaulay structure plan (amendment C190).
One thing to be wary about in terms of redeveloping the industrial land either side of the station location is Boral's Melbourne Cement Plant, as it is located to the south of the proposed station site.
Cement is a key ingredient for any urban development project and of course an orderly winding down of the site (as property prices rise after Arden station is complete) could occur over time. However, it would be interesting to see the wider economic and environmental impacts of this key cog in the urban development supply chain moving out of the area, if it ever does.
One logistical benefit for the project would be if Boral were to be picked as the cement supplier for the project; pre-cast cement and other cement products would not have to travel very far at all, thereby minimising overall energy intensity during the construction phase of the project.
Over to you. Be sure to add your comments to the interactive map on the project website.
Lead image credit: Google Earth