Southland station is almost here — it’s scheduled to open on November 26th. At last!
The centre has been getting ready
Importantly, a more direct pedestrian path, including zebra crossings, has been provided from the centre entrance to the railway station. Bravo!
Wayfinding signage inside the centre already points the way to the station.
Paid parking (if you stay beyond 3 hours) was introduced a couple of weeks ago to prevent park and ride users filling the customer car park.
There’s still some understandable grumpiness about the impact on staff, being charged $5 per day. Some appear to have taken to parking in nearby streets outside the centre, such as along Nepean Highway and in the William Fry reserve car park.
A short summary of the long history of Southland station
1880s – the Frankston line was opened in 1881-1882. A station was proposed at Bay Road quite early on, but not pursued
1968 – Southland Shopping Centre opened, though the original centre was on the eastern side of the Nepean Highway, and not particularly near to the railway line
1999 – New shops adjacent the railway line, and a bridge across the highway opened. Owners Westfield had proposed a station, but were knocked back by the Public Transport Corporation
2004 – State government runs a “pre-feasibility study” – that was the kind of level of commitment back then. Not even a proper feasibility study.
2010 – However somewhere in the background, things must have progressed a bit, because both Labor and the Coalition promise to build the station going into the November state election.
Labor’s version included moving the bus interchange, and was to cost $45 million. The Coalition’s $13 million pledge excluded work on the bus interchange. Ideal? Perhaps not, but almost every bus route connects with the railway line at other locations, so not really a biggie.
The Coalition won the 2010 election, but there was little visible action for some years. By late-2012, it was obvious the project wouldn’t be completed in the 2010-2014 term, which in retrospect looks to have been a huge tactical error. If you’re trying to retain marginal seats, it obviously helps if you can show you’ve funded and completed beneficial projects.
2013 – Coalition funds the station, with construction to commence in 2015, opening in 2016. Around this time, forecasts emerged of around 4400 passengers per day — which if reached would make it one of the busiest stations on the line.
(Around this time, an FOI on the station revealed planning was underway for all-night trains on weekends. This eventually got pledged by Labor in the 2014 election, and delivered in 2016 as Night Network.)
2014 – Cost revealed as $21 million, still aiming at 2016 completion
— Daniel Bowen (@danielbowen) December 7, 2014
2015 – Following Labor’s win in the 2014 election, they reviewed the project, and included public consultation on issues such as toilets and whether the station should have an entrance from neighbouring Tulip Grove — locals decided not. Cleverly, PTV snapped-up a property on the street when it became available for sale, and used it for construction, and it will be future provision for an entrance. This delayed the opening to 2017.
2016 – Construction got underway in a serious way. By November the pedestrian subway had been built.
2017 – Construction has pushed ahead, and from August 2017 a timetable revision included allowance for serving the station.
In the past few weeks, Southland has started appearing on Passenger Information Displays and being announced – as the only station that trains aren’t stopping at!
How do people get to Southland now?
Mostly by car, which on busy days can involve a lot of hunting around for a car space. Apparently this has improved a bit on weekdays since paid parking, but from what I saw on Saturday, is still an issue on weekends.
Or you could get the bus. Buses are so infrequent on weekends (the busiest days) that from nearby suburbs it can be quicker to walk.
They are also so infrequent on weekends that it’s not uncommon to see the bus interchange completely devoid of buses.
Or you could walk from Cheltenham station. You’ve likely already walked to catch a train at the other end of the trip, and then it’s about a 15 minute walk to Southland, most of which is not under cover.
(Note the size of the road sign for Nepean Highway compared to the pedestrian. Has anybody ever studied the impact of these signs on the walking environment?)
If you want the main section (on the eastern side of the highway) you’ll face pedestrian-hostile traffic lights to cross up to eight lanes of traffic (plus service roads). Some people don’t even use the traffic lights, instead crossing mid-block — not something I’d recommend.
Or you could ride your bike. Nepean Highway has service lanes which are better for nervous cyclists than the main traffic lanes. But few of the east-west roads have bike lanes. And it appears the cyclist parking is inadequate — when I went past, it was all filled up.
These conditions are precisely why a station makes so much sense.
When precisely does the station open?
The official PTV notice says:
You’ll be able to start using the station from the first service on Sunday 26 November 2017.
So, what’s the first service on a Sunday, given the all-night trains on weekends?
In the world of public transport, the end of the day is 3am. The timetables tick over; so does Myki (the 2-hour fares lasting all night after 6pm ends at 3am).
"You'll be able to start using [Southland] station from the first service on Sunday 26 November 2017." — the trains run all night, so it appears to mean from 3:41am Sunday. https://t.co/Li0R1DAi7J pic.twitter.com/DiB0QGV1HM
— Daniel Bowen (@danielbowen) November 9, 2017
A look at the Frankston line timetables also indicates that the first trains serve the station after 3am on Sunday morning: 3:41am Frankston-bound, and 4:12am citybound (the train one hour earlier starts its journey at 2:44am, so is considered to be on Saturday night).
Edit: Turns out this is wrong because overnight there will be train replacement buses running. So the first train will be at 6:41 (outbound) or 7:12 (citybound).
Turns out I was wrong. Southland station won't open overnight because there's bustitution on Sunday morning until about 6:45. pic.twitter.com/Ql0utZgPR8
— Daniel Bowen (@danielbowen) November 23, 2017
A more civilised time to go and look than 3:41am (or even 6:41am) might be after 9:30am.
Join us on Sunday 26 November 2017 to celebrate the opening of Southland Station.
Be amongst the first to experience the new station and enjoy a free coffee and BBQ breakfast in the station forecourt, between 9.30am and 11.30am.
I’ve waited a long time for this. It’ll be great to see it open.
PS. If you’re wondering about the station code…
— Daniel Bowen (@danielbowen) November 13, 2017
…An insider tells me it is indeed SOU.