Lighting at Suburban Stations

 
  Revenue Chief Commissioner

Hi everyone
A question for some of the older Railpage people. Smile
In the 1990s (I think it was probably from around 1995 to 1998), lighting was upgraded at all metropolitan stations to high intensity lighting. For those of us who remember the level of lighting at stations before this, the change was quite extraordinary. I remember the reaction of people when stations went from being dark, dimly lit stations with fluro lights dotted along the platform to being brightly lit places. It really did make people sit up and take notice - including non public transport users who were driving past stations. I was wondering if anyone could help me out with:
- When did this happen? (was it 95 to 98?)
- What was your reaction and the reaction of other people to the change?
- Does anyone know of any press coverage, or evidence that shows what the response to the change?
I moved to QLD to work in public transport up there in 98 and I remember thinking how hilarous it was that QR was back lighting their station names rather than just lighting the stations to a decent level so you can could read the signs at night. Razz
Thanks!

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  mike49 Station Master

There is no doubt that the standard of lighting at the average suburban station is far better now than in the pre 90's era & those that have been upgraded with LED lighting in recent years are even better.

Surely though the main reason for this happening in the 90's was to facilitate the introduction of driver only trains? I doubt whether it would have been possible or safe at night with the much lower quality of lighting that used to exist at many stations. Others will know far more about this than me but I would imagine that this would have been one of many factors to have been addressed before the removal of guards was accepted.
  Valvegear Dr Beeching

Location: Norda Fittazroy
I'll give you an even more bizarre experience. World War 2 ended in August 1945; a month before my fifth birthday. During the war, blackout conditions were imposed. When the war had finished, my mother, young sister and I went on the train from Burwood to Flinders Street; a trip we had done many times. I could not believe my eyes this time - lights everywhere.
No doubt the station lights weren't all that flash at that time, because I can well remember the improvement in what I think was the mid 90's, but I can't be any more accurate.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
My recollections of platform lighting in Melbourne go back to the 1950s or thereabouts.

I stress that these are recollections so don't anybody take them as anything more reliable.

In the 1950s platforms were lit with incandescent globes housed under enamel steel shades. These globes (which I think were ES) were replaced when necessary by station staff standing on the office stool. These lights were on steel poles about every carriage length but station name boards were only on every second light pole IIRC. The diameter of the 'boiler tube/water pipe' used reduced at about half height.

The 1950s lights were replaced (in which order I don't know) by double tube fluorescent fittings and/or by a glass 'bubble' looking fitting with some gee whizz sort of globe.

More recently the big square fittings have been applied with perhaps differing types of globes over time. These fitting were placed on new larger diameter and taller poles at closer spacings I think.

Undoubtedly, the new square lights are a huge improvement on everything that they have replaced but suffer from what appears to be a dramatically shorter globe life and/or a significant failure rate of their switching arrangements. Whether this is due to the globes or some form of light/dark sensor used or simply due Metro's poor standard of maintenance I don't know but the end result is the same. I have often counted in excess of 10 defective lights at many suburban stations.
  potatoinmymouth Chief Commissioner

Interesting thread, thanks!

We should also make note that a further evolution has occurred from HID (I believe the name High Intensity Discharge applies to the square orangish boxes, I could be wrong) to LED, an evolution which matches that in general street lighting.

The effect in suburban station car parks is enormous as the LED seems to “spread” much further, creating an even, football-stadium-like lighting pattern rather than pools of light. It has also been very noticeable as the platform lights at Flinders St were changed over as adjacent platform pairs could be readily compared. The cooler light of the LED provides more even coverage, and, I suspect, better contrast for accessibility purposes.
  Heihachi_73 Chief Commissioner

Location: Terminating at Ringwood
The "white" lighting was introduced when premium stations became a thing in the mid-1990s (more like when unmanned stations became a thing) - the unmanned and host stations also received new light fittings but they but retained the dull orange glow of sodium lamps to this day (with the exception of new/rebuilt stations e.g. when the ground-level Heatherdale station was rebuilt in 2007 during Eastlink's construction it gained white lights in place of the orange, as did Kananook). Oddly, despite being a premium station ever since the term existed, Flinders Street retained the dull glow for another two decades, only changing to bright lights in 2016.

Prior to the mid-90s lighting upgrades, suburban stations had tiny sodium lights which you can still find on a few V/Line stations such as Ardeer.

The sooner they junk the orange sodium lamps the better, they should have disappeared alongside the 100W blow-in-a-week incandescent globes a decade ago. LEDs have got to be infinitely cheaper than sodium lamps anyway. Speaking of which, the light at the entrance to Auburn station (Victoria Rd) has been cycling on and off for a while now.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
By the by lighting is still be upgraded at Flinders Street with a pile of old lights discarded on the platform at the end of platform 1 under the station itself.
  Radioman Chief Train Controller

My recollections of platform lighting in Melbourne go back to the 1950s or thereabouts.

I stress that these are recollections so don't anybody take them as anything more reliable.

In the 1950s platforms were lit with incandescent globes housed under enamel steel shades. These globes (which I think were ES) were replaced when necessary by station staff standing on the office stool. These lights were on steel poles about every carriage length but station name boards were only on every second light pole IIRC. The diameter of the 'boiler tube/water pipe' used reduced at about half height.

The 1950s lights were replaced (in which order I don't know) by double tube fluorescent fittings and/or by a glass 'bubble' looking fitting with some gee whizz sort of globe.

More recently the big square fittings have been applied with perhaps differing types of globes over time. These fitting were placed on new larger diameter and taller poles at closer spacings I think.

Undoubtedly, the new square lights are a huge improvement on everything that they have replaced but suffer from what appears to be a dramatically shorter globe life and/or a significant failure rate of their switching arrangements. Whether this is due to the globes or some form of light/dark sensor used or simply due Metro's poor standard of maintenance I don't know but the end result is the same. I have often counted in excess of 10 defective lights at many suburban stations.
YM-Mundrabilla
Hello All,

the VR electric lights were originally screw mount  ( not bayonet mount , the Australian standard ) DC incandecsent  lights powered from the VR Spotswood Power Station, which was built to power the 1500V DC overhead wires and was later transferred to the SEC / State Electricity Commission of Victoria .

The DC lights were then changed over to AC screw mount incandescent , and around 1959-1961 period the VR introduced its unique VR designed twin fluorescent tube light fixture which gave a good spread of light, was sealed and did not shine into the Driver's eyes.

There was a VR Newsletter article about these light fittings which I think were manufactured at the Spotswood Signals Workshop. ( I am happy to be corrected on this )

The VR design was still being installed into at least the 1970s. It is also correct that the VR only placed a station sign on every second lamp post in the Suburban Electrified Area , and the last lamp post at each platform end also did not get a station sign.

The VR white target with black lettering station signs, so typical of the Suburban Area , were large and usually easy to read , the long station names eg Middle Brighton, for example whose letters were a bit squashed up to fit the standard space , were readable and long lasting. Which is more than can be said for both the Met Green with white lettering, and the V/Line orange with black lettering especially, whose viewability at night or in inclement weather was , to say the least, marginal.

When Connex undertook to install the new Blue and White station signs to replace those near unreadable Met green with white letters station signs , a decision was made to equip every lamp post with a sign , including the very last lamp post on the platform ends.

Someone must have been required to physically check every new installation because Montmorency did not get new signage on the end lampposts , but this was rectified around a fortnight later.

Poor signage is a pet hate of mine , and Connex did the re signage properly in that every station was changed over, every lamp post equipped and the signs were readable at night in inclement weather , something which definitely did not apply to the Met green signs.

Connex should be given credit for seeing this through, because previously the re signage undertaken by both the Met and V/Line ( orange ) started of well but quickly degenerated to half heartedness as someone inevitably decided to save money by supplying lesser numbers of signs per location , which completely ignores what I would have thought was the obvious necessity of having signage that is readable from every carriage window.

Like Heihachi73 , I am surprised that the yellow sodium lights have not all been replaced with White LEDs purely on an operational cost ground, as yellow sodiums are very expensive to run compared to the white LEDs , and the later give a better night view compared to yellow sodiums.

In my view Victoria generally does signage badly, and VicRoads and its predessessors are a classic example of this.For example, on the M11 Peninsula Link south of C777 Frankston-Flinders Rd and heading in a northerly direction you pass a sign stating only "Glen Waverley xKm" , which conveniently ignores every suburb between Frankston and Glen Waverley !

The Western Bypass , though I think it has now been rectified, when heading in a southerly direction , once had a sign on the entrance to a curve before the over bridge that preceded the Tullamarine Airport turn off directing you to the left hand lane, which was just around the corner ! So unless you had travelled on that road previously and are already in the left hand lane you were pretty much guaranteed not to be able to make the left hand turn in time, and your next exit was many kilometres away.This was an 80kmph section of freeway. In more recent times I have travelled back from Geelong via the Bolte Bridge and the signage there is also not that good either.

Regards, Radioman.

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