Near its level crossing, the station has a pretty typical Commuter Rail shelter. It features a bench, newspaper boxes, a wastebasket, a traffic cone, a pane of glass on the floor, a...scooter... Yeah, there were a few weird things here. Also, keep in mind that the shelter is rather far from the station's mini-high, so wait at your own risk. There's also a small concrete plaza here with eight bike spaces.
|Looking down the platform, with parking on the side.|
As for the rest of the platform, it's mostly bare, aside from a few benches and wastebaskets. Further down, there are six more bike spaces, which is certainly welcome. The platform is parallel to one of the station's parking lots, and it's definitely the most convenient of the three for getting into the station.
The station's mini-high was most definitely built in the 90s or later, based on the architecture. Still, it's a mini-high, which makes the station accessible, and it actually has a bench this time. The shelter extends slightly past the high part of the platform, but I'm not really sure why, since it's not really...sheltering anything.
|Stairs to more parking.|
From the mini-high, a long path leads under a bridge and out alongside the track. Eventually, you reach a set of stairs, and they lead up to...more parking! There's also another bench and wastebasket up there, but I'm not really sure what they're for - the lot is a bit out-of-the-way to get picked up at. For drivers, it's probably the least convenient of the three lots.
|SO MUCH PARKING!|
And yet there's a third lot here! If you head out to the level crossing, you can cross Rockwood Road to reach more parking, adding up to 532 spaces in total. This lot also features a drop-off area, as well as the stop for the GATRA's Tri-Town Connector route. You wouldn't know this from looking, however, since there's absolutely no signage whatsoever. The GATRA also runs a rush hour commuter shuttle from here to Medway.
Ridership: With 748 riders per weekday, Norfolk has just one more rider per day than Forge Park. Of course, since this station is in an actual, you know, town, it's slightly easier to bike or even walk here. However, the amount of parking shows that many people still drive in.
Pros: There's a bench on the mini-high this time, and the station also offers plenty of extra seating. There is also a lot of parking here, especially for a "town center" station like this one. That said, as we'll see in "Nearby and Noteworthy", there isn't much of a town here...
Cons: I'm not a fan of how far away the outer lots are. One of them is inconvenient for cars (although the staircase to the station is simple enough), while another is inconvenient for pedestrians, since you have to cross a street. And though the station has a pretty peaceful feel, it's lacking a bit in terms of character...maybe it's the bland shelters.
Nearby and Noteworthy: Hmm...Dunks, anyone? Yeah, there isn't really much in Norfolk Center, and what's there is rather car-oriented, with big parking lots out front. The aforementioned Dunkin' Donuts has a drive-through, for heaven's sake!
Final Verdict: 7/10
I like this station alright, and in some ways, it's even better than Forge Park. Certainly in terms of the overall feel of it - Norfolk is a lot more tranquil because of its woodsy setting. But the parking is just all over the place, and the shelters are so bland! Plus, this station gets very slightly more ridership than Forge Park, but only the latter gets a building. Poor Norfolk!
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