Not all trams were created equal, amd some tram classes are distinctly more comfortable than others.
Living in Melbourne means using public transport at least from time to time, if not every day. And a big chunk of our impressive public transport network (arguably the best and most extensive in Australia) are Melbourne’s trains. But you can’t have trains without stations, and some of Melbourne’s train stations are better than others.
Hence we present to you Time Out’s (completely unofficial) guide to Melbourne’s best and worst train stations. From our collective decades of travelling the rails, we’ve sussed out our favourite locations to alight, and the ones that fill us with dread (looking at you South Kenso).
Think you know a train station that deserves to be mentioned? Get in touch to tell us why.
The best train stations in Melbourne
Guys, this station has a PUB in it. You can literally walk off your train and be sinking a bevvy in 30 seconds (or sink a few bevvies then walk right onto the train). VRI (that's Victorian Railways Institute) Lilydale, is a museum as well as a bar and had been operating since 1914. However, Lilydale station is being upgraded as part of the level crossings removal project, which will see the bar close for months. It’s unclear whether the pub will survive, though management is eager to fight for it.
Brighton Beach station
If you decide to catch the train to this famous Melbourne beach, it’s easy to know when you’ve arrived. Brighton Beach Station is lucky enough to enjoy views of the ocean from the platform, being maybe 100 metres from the shore. Fun fact: when the station was first opened in 1861, it was just called “Beach” station before that moniker was clarified to “Brighton Beach” in 1867.
There’s a lot to love about Footscray station. The major interchange means all of the west comes in and out of Footscray, but it also allows you to go further afield via its Bendigo, Ballarat and Geelong VLine services. From here you can easily access Footscray Market and Footscray Arts Centre, as well as salute the Melbourne Institution that is Franco Cozzo’s. The city-end of platform six also features a mural by artist Aretha Brown and Footscray Station has not one, but TWO songs written about it (by Camp Cope and Scott and Charlene’s Wedding).
It’s just two stops out of the city, but Kensington station feels like you’ve completely left the rat race and arrived in a sweet little hamlet of Melbourne’s inner northwest. Exit on Bellair Street (the platform you arrive on when travelling away from the CBD) and you’ll be greeted by a number of cute cafés on a tree-lined thoroughfare. Kensington station also has a pretty gorgeous mural in the underpass linking the platforms that depicts the area’s history and local landmarks. The whole package is completed by a number of garden beds and plants that frame the station.
I have two words for you Melbourne: sky station. As part of the Victorian government’s level crossings removal project, Carnegie station was lifted into the sky and now features lots of shelter, bike storage, bus bays and taxi ranks.
Flinders Street station
If there is one building that is instantly, iconically Melbourne, it is Flinders Street Station. The striking Edwardian facade with its recognisable domes had put the station on everything from tea towels to paintings, with every suburban train line travelling in and out of this terminus. For a major station, it’s fairly easy to navigate with overground and underpass platform connections, toilets (usually pretty clean!), a number of shops, a ballroom, and one of Melbourne’s only pedestrian scrambles (located at the Elizabeth Street entrance). Hot tip: platform ten is where it’s at on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday evening, with the neighbouring Arbory Bar sending party vibes through the shared fence.
The worst train stations in Melbourne
South Kensington station
South Kensington is a train station because, yes, technically trains stop there. But it is more accurate to describe the station as two islands of concrete in a sea of tracks, construction and industrial sites where Satan himself won’t tread. When waiting for a city-bound train, the platform is so narrow that I genuinely don’t think I can lie horizontally across it. It is the Death Valley of train stations, with no real shade and the station is accessed via a dark underpass. Adjacent Metro Tunnel works have been clogging up the Childers Street entrance, though these works now include an updated entrance and more parking.
Parliament station has the honour of straddling both the best and worst stations in Melbourne. It’s the best because it features (according to Metro Trains) the longest escalators in the southern hemisphere. But it’s the worst exactly because of those escalators, which had 600 accidents occur on them in the nine years leading up to 2018. The reason for this is thought to be due to the design of the building, with few vertical lines and lights and shiny surfaces that can disorient, leading to people falling backwards. Want to avoid a fall? Hold a handrail and don’t look up or backwards.
There’s a certain ambience to situating a train station right underneath the busy CityLink toll road. It’s not a particularly good ambience, but it’s an ambience nonetheless. Macaulay station, as one staff member of Time Out describes, is an “eerily lonely, endless platform with a single exit at the beginning of the platform – so unless you exit from the perfect carriage you have a depressing walk ahead of you.” And that single exit opens up to one of the busiest main roads in Kensington, under the Tullamarine Freeway and next to the sad Moonee Ponds Creek and several equally sad industrial buildings.