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Southern Cross
Southern Cross Station
Some attributes
First Lines:

All V/Line Trains terminate here

Second Platforms:

24 (22 in use)

Third Tracks:

22

Other attributes
Southern Cross (formerly known as Spencer Street) is a major railway station and transport hub in Docklands, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. It is on Spencer Street, between Collins and La Trobe Streets, at the western edge of the central business district. The Etihad Stadium sports arena is 500 metres (1,600 ft) north-west of the station.

The station is managed, as part of a public-private partnership with the state government, by Southern Cross Station Pty Ltd, a private consortium which includes ABN Amro, Leighton Contractors, Daryl Jackson Architecture, Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners and Honeywell Limited.

The station is the terminus of the state's regional railway network operated by V/Line, The Overland rail service to Adelaide, and the Countrylink XPT service to Sydney. It also served by suburban rail services operated by Metro Trains, being one of five stations on the City Loop, a mostly underground railway that encircles the CBD. Based on suburban passenger boardings it is the third busiest railway station in Melbourne. In 2009, passenger traffic averaged 42,900 per day. These figures exclude V/Line passengers who use the station.

Southern Cross Station also has a coach terminal underneath the shopping complex. Skybus Super Shuttle services to Melbourne Airport and Sunbus Shuttle services to Avalon Airport operate from there, as well as Greyhound Australia, Firefly Express Coaches, Premier Motor Service interstate coach services, and V/Line coach services to Mildura, Yarram and Mansfield, and other parts of Victoria not served by rail.

History

Opened as Spencer Street in 1859, five years after Flinders Street; the station was a dead end terminus, running parallel to Spencer Street (not on an angle like today) with a single main platform and a dock platform at the north end.It was not until 1874 that an extra platform was provided.

The two stations were not linked until 1879, when a single-track ground-level line was opened. It operated only at night, and only for goods trains. In the 1880s, it was proposed that Spencer Street station be removed in order to facilitate the westward expansion of the city, however the plan was subsequently rejected.

1880s: Passenger services commence

The 1880s saw the first of several grand but unrealised plans for the station. The first accepted design, drafted by Albert Charles Cook in 1883 was a fanciful Palladian palazzo design of two and three storeys with central portico.

From 1888 to 1894 the layout of the platforms was altered, with new country platforms being built on existing angle. The current coach terminal location was the site of a number of new platforms built for suburban services.

In 1888 work started on the double-track Flinders Street Viaduct linking the station to Flinders Street.

In 1891, grand plans were made for a new station including three storey office complex and dominant clock tower reminiscent of the later Sydney Central railway station, however plans did not proceed. Instead, the line was opened to goods traffic and in 1894 to passenger trains. It was at this time that the first through platform was provided at the station, for suburban trains from Essendon and Williamstown. The viaduct to Flinders Street was expanded to four tracks in 1915, and in conjunction with the electrification works on the suburban network today's platforms 11 though 14 were opened between 1918 and 1924, along with the pedestrian subway providing access to them.

Construction of a station entrance and offices was proposed again in 1938 at a cost of £2,000 with the design by architects Messrs. Stephenson and Meldrum being approved. However once again, construction did not commence.

1960s: Modernisation

In October 1960 work on a new Spencer Street Station commenced, sparked by the construction of the interstate standard gauge railway link to Sydney. A station building was constructed which largely replaced the 1880s iron sheds, and a new 413 metres (1,355 ft) Number 1 platform was built. The passenger subway which had been constructed as part of the 1918 works was extended to include access to country platforms. In connection with the construction of the underground loop, platforms 9 and 10 were rebuilt as part of the suburban section of the station, and a new double-track viaduct was constructed between Spencer Street and Flinders Street station, alongside the original one, bringing to six the number of tracks connecting the two stations. At the same time, the four older tracks were resignalled for bi-directional operation.

In 1962 a separate subway network was constructed to carry mail between the station and what was then the Melbourne GPO and main postal sorting office, situated on the other side of Spencer Street.

The mechanically interlocked signal box at the station was opened in 1887,and was decommissioned in June 2008 as part of an upgrade to signalling.

 2000s: redevelopment

800px-Spencer street redevelopment

Work on the station in 2004

Southern Cross was redeveloped by the Civic Nexus consortium, following an innovative design by Grimshaw Architects which features an undulating roof. Construction began in October 2002 and was completed in late 2006, with the majority of the transport facilities finished in time for the 2006 Commonwealth Games. The central features of the design include a wave-shaped roof, a new entrance and concourse on Collins Street, a new bus interchange, a new food court, a bar/restaurant, separate retail outlets inside the station and a separate shopping complex between Bourke and La Trobe Streets.
800px-New spencer st station

Work on the roof in January 2005

This new shopping complex originally comprised a Direct Factory Outlets centre, a Virgin Megastore, along with food courts. This opened on 30 November 2006, although not all tenancies were occupied, and stage 2 was opened in March 2007. In 2009 the DFO relocated to a new site at South Wharf, the shopping centre being refitted by owner Austexx and rebranded simply as "Spencer Street fashion station".

In addition to the station's physical modifications, its name was changed from Spencer Street to Southern Cross on 13 December 2005.

By July 2004 the project had fallen behind schedule and over budget by $200 million. This was covered extensively in the media. As a result of over-runs and design issues, some elements of the original design, including an additional proposed footbridge connecting Lonsdale Street with Docklands Stadium, were scrapped.

Complaints about access to platforms, empty trains occupying space during the day and lack of government support were raised by Leighton Holdings, the construction firm overseeing the project. This led to concerns that the station might not be ready in time for the Commonwealth Games, and the government arranged with the railway operators to provide more access to the work site.

The station's redevelopment is part of the wider Melbourne Docklands development. The architect responsible for the design is Nicholas Grimshaw. The structural engineering design was performed by Winward Structures, a consulting structural engineering design firm. The station has been awarded the Royal Institute of British Architects' Lubetkin Prize for most outstanding building outside the European Union. The other buildings nominated were the Des Moines Public Library and the Hearst Tower, New York City.

The redevelopment has meant that passengers take more time to get to the suburban network platforms than before. In the new station, the pedestrian subway access was removed in favour of street level and elevated concourses. The original subway also continued underneath Spencer Street, and its closure means it is necessary for all pedestrians to wait for traffic lights to cross Spencer Street at street level. For all suburban and some country services, passengers using the main entrance on the corner of Collins and Spencer streets have to ascend two escalators (or sets of stairs) to a shopping concourse and then enter the paid area of the station, before descending again to the metropolitan platforms. There have been some accidents in which people have fallen from this elevated level. The eight metre ascent and descent is more than necessary to clear the height of trains, and more than the three metre descent and ascent of the previous subway.

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