Camberwell railway station, Melbourne

Camberwell railway station, Melbourne

IMAGELINK=Camberwell Station 1.jpg
CAPTION=Citybound train arriving on platform 1
STATUS=Premium Station
TIMETABLES= [ Link],145.058692&spn=0.012559,0.019956 Link]

Camberwell is a railway station which serves the Belgrave, Lilydale and Alamein lines in the eastern Melbourne suburb of Camberwell, Victoria, Australia. It is located on the corner of Burke Road and Cookson Street, and connects with tram route 72, which runs from Camberwell to the University of Melbourne.


Camberwell station was first opened in 1882. It was the terminus of its own line for one year, before the railway was extended to Lilydale. When the first section of the Outer Circle line opened in 1891, a new station was built at East Camberwell to provide an interchange. However, as the line slowly failed, with more and more sections closing, until only the Alamein line remained, trains to the remnants of the Outer Circle began to depart from Camberwell.

The station was demolished and the current station opened in 1919, when the railway lines were placed in a cutting. This was done partly to remove the steep gradient from Auburn station to the west. This length of track was so steep that steam locomotives could not pull a fully-laden train between the two stations, requiring peak hour trains to be separated. The locomotive would bring one set of carriages to Camberwell, then return for the other set, causing significant delays. The other reason for the grade-separation was the extension of tram route 72 (then route 7) to Camberwell in 1910 – removal of the level crossing at Burke Road was a government stipulation.

Camberwell was upgraded to Premium Station status on 27 April 1996.cite journal
year = 1997
month = October
title = Upgrading Eltham to a Premium Station
journal = Newsrail
publisher = Australian Railway Heritage Society (Victorian Division)
pages = page 310

The train stabling yard was constructed in 1997, on the site of the former goods yard. It was built to replace sidings removed at Jolimont Yard for the construction of Federation Square. [cite web
title=New Yard at Camberwell Station

Layout and services

The station has three platforms; platforms 1 (the southernmost) and 2 form an island platform, with platform 3 to the north. The Edwardian-style booking office is located above the island platform, with a footbridge connecting it to platform 3 and the northern exit, and to the southern exit over the adjacent railway yard. A late-1940s signal box is located on the island platform, to the east of the main building.

Platform 1 is used for city-bound services all day, as well as terminating shuttle trains from Alamein. Depending on the frequency of the shuttle service (which varies according to the time of the week), these shuttles return to Alamein from platform 1, or shunt to platform 3 (by a siding at the west end) to return to Alamein from there.

Platform 2 is used for city-bound express services in the morning, express services towards Belgrave and Lilydale in the evening, and stopping services to the city and towards Belgrave and Lilydale at times when the Alamein shuttle service is departing from platform 1. It is also used by terminating shuttle trains from Alamein as an alternative to platform 1.

Platform 3 is used by all services towards Belgrave, Lilydale, and Alamein during the morning peak period, by stopping services to destinations on those lines during the evening peak period, by Alamein shuttle services when the frequency of the shuttle requires it, and by all services towards Belgrave and Lilydale when the Alamein shuttle services are using platform 1.

All but a handful of shuttle services are operated by 3-carriage trains, and due to the length of the west-end siding (siding A), only 3-carriage trains can run Alamein shuttles when using this siding (otherwise trains are 6 cars in length, formed by coupling 2 3-car sets together).

Camberwell also has four stabling roads, each able to accommodate one 6 car Electric Multiple Unit.

Redevelopment controversy

In 2001, the Victorian State Government launched a new Metropolitan Planning Strategy, Melbourne 2030. In line with the policy of residents' groups such as Save Our Suburbs, one of its core principles was the intensification of development around public transport nodes such as railway stations and tram routes, while placing greater limits on such development in residential neighbourhoods. The strategy identified over a hundred potential sites for intensification, in a hierarchy of 'activity centres'. [ [ Melbourne 2030 ] ] The precinct around Camberwell railway station was identified as a one of the more significant of these nodes, and the controversy spawned by a 2003 proposal to redevelop it has been one of the most high-profile of those associated with Melbourne 2030 as well as those related to urban character issues.

In March 2003, VicTrack, the state government body that owns the station, announced plans to develop the airspace over the site. It is believed that these involved decking over the station platforms and the adjacent marshalling yard with 3-4 levels of car parking topped by 3-4 storeys of commercial space, mainly offices, with a new frontage on Burke Road, and possibly involving the demolition of the station. As the station is in a deep cutting in the side of a hill, this would have resulted in a building that was similar in height to the commercial development adjacent to the station precinct, to the east of Burke Road. The car park would have provided approximately 400 spaces, intended for the office workers in the building above, an idea that, along with its complete lack of a residential component, was completely at odds with the aim of the principles of Transit-oriented development (TOD) upon which it was argued to be based.

The original plans involving the station's demolition led to a vocal outcry from the local community, receiving a significant amount of media attention. Actor Geoffrey Rush (local resident and self-proclaimed user of the station), and comedian Barry Humphries (a former resident who claims Camberwell as his "spiritual home"), publicly backed the campaign, with Humphries joining Rush at the head of a protest march up Burke Road from Camberwell Junction to the station. The comedian performed a poem about planners at the rally and noted that the railway line was sometimes called 'The Orient Express'. Among the concerns expressed by residents was that such a development could become like Box Hill, a station further up the line in a less upmarket, more multicultural suburb. The comedian satirised this concern in his poem with the line that the proposed redevelopment would mean that the kids of Camberwell wouldn't "have to go to Box Hill for their drugs". To those supporting development of the station, the actions of the protesters have been taken as an example of NIMBYism (from "Not In My Back Yard").

The Boroondara Residents Action Group worked with architects McGauran Giannini Soon, to provide alternative ideas for developing the air-space over the railway station and yard that were more in-keeping with their views of community preferences. It is believed one of these proposals involved a small public plaza and a new public library, with some small-scale shops.

Although the station is historic, it is not actually protected by any of the state's heritage listings for any architectural or cultural reasons, and failed to gain this protection after the community outrage at the development plans. As of 2008, it is unclear exactly what the future of any development on this site will be.


* [ Birrell, B. and O'Connor, K. - 2030: a space fallacy - plans to end the urban sprawl will destroy the character of Melbourne, Opinion piece in The Age]
* [ Dovey, K et al (2005) What is Urban Character? The case of Camberwell, Proceedings, 2nd State of Australian Cities Conference, Brisbane: Griffith University]

VICORMELB = Melbourne
Line1=Alamein line
Line2=Belgrave & Lilydale lines
Next2=East Camberwell

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