Categories
transport

SoCross: the interchange

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have already seen this.

A man rushed past on the stairs at Southern Cross. He ran down and around the corner, then doubled-back to the V/Line fare gates. My guess is he’d come from the Metro platforms.

Here’s a short video of what happened next.

(It’s only 18 seconds to play in full. You don’t need to hear the sound.)

You can sense his frustration.

On V/Locity trains, the conductor checks the platform, then advises the driver it’s clear to depart, and all the doors close. The conductor probably can’t see if someone’s trying to board after that. I would assume the driver can see via the mirror, but might not be authorised to stop the train.

The Bendigo line shares parts of its route with the Metro Sunbury line (between Sunshine and Sunbury), so there’s also a risk that a delay might cause the train to miss its path – though with the Metro trains only running every 20 minutes (40 beyond Watergardens) this seems unlikely. There are also issues with the single track beyond Kyneton.

Note the lady in the background. I think she had planned to meet him on the train. After it departed, she approached and they spoke and ended up sitting on a bench together.

Of course we don’t know all of the context here – had his Metro connection been delayed or diverted? Or had he just not allowed enough time?

It’s an hour between trains to Bendigo. That’s a long wait. Depending on how you measure it, Bendigo is Victoria’s 3rd or 4th largest city.

Southern Cross Station: Crowding to get onto platforms 7 and 8

Southern Cross (formerly Spencer Street) Station got a huge upgrade about 15 years ago. The former passenger subway was closed, and is now used mostly for maintenance vehicles, and as a conduit for numerous cables and pipes running under the station.

The subway used to be the only way to get to and from the platforms. It wouldn’t cope with passenger numbers nowadays, but would provide extra capacity and be a quick way to change between platforms. It’s unclear if it is viable to bring it back into service.

The station upgrade provided far quicker exit to some locations, such as Collins Street west, and to the northwest including Telstra Etihad Marvel Stadium.

But capacity has been a problem in recent years, and interchange between some of the platforms isn’t great, especially at the Collins Street end. It’s a bit better via Bourke Street, and doesn’t involve exiting the paid zone to swap between Metro and V/Line.

You can only feel for the bloke in the video, and all the others over the years who have missed their connection thanks, in part at least, to the distance between the platforms.

Categories
Toxic Custard newsletter transport

Southern Cross renamed back to Spencer Street

I wrote years ago that it was stupid to throw away 145 years of brand recognition when they renamed Spencer Street station to Southern Cross.

Good news – it turns out they’ve just named it back!

This is a great idea.

The name “Southern Cross” is meaningless.

“Spencer Street” is meaningful, it tells you where the station is located.

Perhaps they’ve been planning this for a while. It might explain why the official station code got left as “SSS”.

I’ve got hold of a draft of the train map, which also has the North/West Melbourne name change included:

New train map including Spencer Street and West Melbourne

Just as with the renaming of North Melbourne soon to West Melbourne, bringing back the old name Spencer Street will help people find their way around Melbourne by train.

  • Update 1:45pm: Yes, yes, it’s April Fools Day. Thanks to my son Isaac for doing the video.
  • Also today: PTUA:

  • Skybus:

  • Marcus Wong:

Categories
transport

Subway into SoCross: could it be re-opened?

I had been going to write a blog post asking people what this thing is, on Little Collins Street. If one looks closely, it has City of Melbourne markings.

Old subway entrance to Southern Cross Station, Little Collins Street

The City of Melbourne and the Herald Sun have highlighted it overnight: it’s an old entrance to the subway underneath Spencer Street, into the nearby station.

At the old Spencer Street station, the main way on and off the platforms was via the subway. It took you past the ticket offices to multiple exits, mostly along the western side of Spencer Street (the street), but one or two went under the road to the other side; I seem to recall one ending at a spiral staircase in a nearby building. I suspect the exit on Little Collins Street might be the only one still in existence.

If you want a reminder of how the old Spencer Street station (including the subway) looked, check this web site. Marcus Wong also has some great photos, including this of the subway.

Public access to the subway was removed when the station was rebuilt — but for some reason nobody seems to have anticipated that passenger/pedestrian traffic would swamp nearby streets.

It’s now a regular occurrence to see footpaths in Collins and Bourke Streets overflowing, particularly at peak times.

The City of Melbourne is apparently wanting to investigate if the subway can be re-opened, which is a great idea. From their agenda from Monday night (the section on Council Works, 3.2.3):

The Elizabeth Street Streetscape works are on hold until the timing and resolution of the tram track realignments at the southern end have been agreed with the Melbourne Metro Rail Authority. Given the funding was from the Parking Levy it is necessary to reallocate the majority of these funds within this financial year.

It is recommended to Council that $1.7 million from the Parking Levy Funding be reallocated to the upgrade of the footpaths in Collins Street between Spencer and Market Streets to provide a better walking environment for pedestrians and commuters at Southern Cross Station and $750,000 be allocated towards an investigation and documentation to the reopen the subway from Spencer to Little Collins Street. The balance of the funding will remain with Elizabeth Street in order to progress this project into the next financial year.

See also: Herald Sun: Spencer St subway reopens to stop crush (paywall)

Another CBD spot in need of a footpath upgrade. Wonder if @DoyleMelbourne is looking at these?

As I understand it, much of the structure is still in place. The western end is used by service vehicles — you can see the entrances on many of the platforms for them — but if the eastern end under the road is there but unused, there is potential there, perhaps with it popping up somewhere in the main concourse.

The Little Collins entrance is steps only, so unless heavily modified, it wouldn’t be DDA-compliant.

But like the Campbell Arcade/Degraves Street subway at Flinders Street Station, for able-bodied people it could provide an alternative, traffic-light-free way in and out of the station which could take pressure off the other accessible but very busy intersections.

It’s also good to hear they’ve given more time to pedestrians at some of the existing intersections — but there’s more they could do, and the westbound tram stop in Bourke Street in particular is a problem. I’ll write about that soon with some photos. (Update: Bourke/Spencer tram stop not fit for purpose)

Categories
Photos from ten years ago

Photos from November 2004

Continuing my series of old photos from ten years ago

Southern Cross Station under construction. The bridge with yellow on the right is the Collins Street extension, so this must have been snapped from close to where Etihad Stadium is. Note the “Park and Ride” sign, a misguided attempt to get people to drive most of the way into the city, then catch a tram to work. This might become prevalent again when CBD and Docklands trams become free.
Southern Cross Station under construction (November 2004)

Port of Melbourne. I must have looked a bit suspicious taking photos, but the sight of containers stacked up (always empty when stacked like this, I’m told) must have caught my eye. You can see the Melbourne Central tower in the distance.
Port of Melbourne (November 2004)

Lee Lin Chin from SBS News on my old Loewe CRT television. Original X-Box in the cabinet, along with VCR and other old equipment. It’s only a few months ago that I got rid of the brown speakers… they went on Freecycle to a lady whose housemate uses hi-fi odds and ends to build “new” (retro!) systems for his friends. This photo was snapped for my here is my series of photos back then.
Ye olde CRT TV (November 2004)

Street art in Prahran. Authorised? Not sure. Naturally it was the trains (Hitachi and Harris) that caught my eye. The Nylex sign also features.
Street art, Prahran  (November 2004)

Even in the “dark years” between 1996 and 2005, there was Doctor Who merchandise around the place. I’m betting this wasn’t authorised. It was also in Prahran somewhere.
Toy Dalek (November 2004)

Categories
Melbourne

Public space vs private property in central Melbourne

It’s interesting to see that around the CBD, a subtle line is often marked on the pavement, where (I’m assuming) the publicly-owned pavement ends and the privately-owned property begins.

County Court, William Street

Quite a few buildings include this kind of open space, particularly at the front, and I would assume the boundary would have legal significance.

Telstra shop, Swanston/Bourke Sts

In some cases it’s less subtle, where they’ve made no effort to match the paving styles on the private land to the public footpath.

Queen Street

An infamous boundary among Melbourne’s news media is Southern Cross Station. Security guards will descend if the media set up their cameras on the wrong side of the line without authorisation — even when the story has nothing to do with the station itself. That’s why in news reports you’ll often see them looking into the station, having filmed from the footpath outside. Why go there? Well for some (for instance channels 7 and 9) it’s close to where they have their offices — and unlike other CBD railway stations, you can just about see platforms and trains from the street.

Entrance to Southern Cross station

Categories
Culture transport

How to find the transport mural at Southern Cross Station

Before you go looking for it, be sure to read the updates at the bottom.

The gigantic transport mural was perhaps one of the best features of the old Spencer Street station. By Harold Freedman, it depicts the first century of Victoria’s transport — from 1835 to 1935. It was commissioned by the state government in 1973, and unveiled in 1978.

Transport mural in "Spencer Street" shopping centre at Southern Cross Station

Following the rebuilding and (pointless) renaming, it’s been hidden away in the shopping centre where it’s virtually invisible to most people. (But hey, at least it has been retained on public display.)

Here’s how to find it.

Firstly make your way to the Bourke Street end of the station, either via the platforms if you’re coming off a train, or via the escalators.
Southern Cross Station - Bourke St entrance

Go into the shopping centre formerly known as DFO, now called “Spencer Street”.
Entrance to "Spencer Street" shopping centre at Southern Cross Station

Ignore the shops (both open and vacant) and go all the way to the end. Yeah it’s a long way — more than a full city block. (If you’re coming from Lonsdale Street or further north, you can enter part the way along at an entrance at the Spencer/Lonsdale Street intersection.)
"Spencer Street" shopping centre at Southern Cross Station

Once you reach the end, look up, above the shops — there it is.
Transport mural in "Spencer Street" shopping centre at Southern Cross Station

Opposite the mural, in a spot where most wouldn’t notice it, is a stairway (with wheelchair lift) to a viewing area. Make your way up…
022

Behold, the mural in all its glory.
Transport mural in "Spencer Street" shopping centre at Southern Cross Station

Note the top section is private transport, in the middle public transport, and at the bottom is commercial. This, and the history of the mural, is detailed in the helpful explanatory panel.

The above photo, larger

Update: The mural is included in this Melbourne history app for iTunes and Android.

Update December 2013 — I’m told that changes in the shopping centre mean the mural is not currently able to be accessed and viewed.

Update March 2014This Age article from earlier this month notes the mural is still in place, but is now only viewable via one of the factory outlet stores, and is partially obscured. See also: photo from Marcus Wong.

Categories
Melbourne Photos

End of the week pics

Pretty funny: Southern Cross Station has departure signs sponsored by Red Rooster. In part because they show less information, they actually have fewer errors than the official signs — but beware — it appears they don’t show trains departing in less than 10 minutes (because they want you to think there’s time to go and buy a snack from them).
Red Rooster departure signs, Southern Cross station
(More on these signs at Marcus Wong’s blog)

Interesting… ummm… tree watchamacallit in Footscray:
Footscray tree

Last of my birthday gifts was last night (thank you M): superb tickets to Bill Bailey. Very funny stuff — go see him if you get the chance. Row AA was about four rows from the front. Fantastic.
Bill Bailey tickets

Hamer Hall is very impressive… we made sure to go in early to admire the new renovation.
Hamer Hall starts to fill up

Here’s what happens when you try and run a red light, but don’t make it across.
When you try to run a red light, but don't make it #RoadMorons

Is it just me who finds these fake birds at Bunnings a bit creepy when viewed en masse?
Bunnings birds

Bunnings birds

Categories
transport

Regional Rail Link works continue

There’s a good view from North Melbourne station of the works on the new Regional Rail Link line that will come in from Sunshine and the western suburbs, bypassing North Melbourne (unfortunately, with no interchange platforms) into Southern Cross. The idea is that V/Line trains will be able to bypass the suburban tracks, allowing both more V/Line and Metro trains to run.

Regional Rail Link works at North Melbourne

Nearby at Southern Cross, the new platforms are looking increasingly close to complete, though the track is still missing.

Regional Rail Link works at Southern Cross

Note the glass wall. When Southern Cross was built/renovated last decade, they did include provision for the extra platforms 15+16, which is why these have taken shape so quickly. But the glass wall on the western side of the station will actually sit between these platforms.

So platform 15 will be inside, and platform 16… well, that could be a little chilly and wet on cold rainy days.

Regional Rail Link works at Southern Cross

There are still questions about the overall project. There’s still little or no public information on an operating plan of any kind — which should be a prerequisite before you start building.

That is, you should work out what train services you want to run, then build the infrastructure to allow it. We still don’t know if the V/Line trains originating in Geelong will stop at the new stations in Wyndham Vale and Tarneit. We don’t know if passengers at Deer Park and Ardeer will get any extra trains stopping. We don’t know if Geelong trains will take longer on their trip, coming into Melbourne the long way around, even if the tracks they use are faster.

It seems the project wasn’t planned that carefully — despite being one of the most expensive infrastructure projects ever undertaken in Australia.

Victorian transport department secretary Jim Betts said at a conference last week that the $5 billion Regional Rail Link, which has blown out by $1 billion, was budgeted for haphazardly. ”The budget for that project was basically haggled over between the state and the Commonwealth one weekend and we end up with a number written on the back of an envelope,” he said. It was reported in the Australian Financial Review.

The Age, Baillieu sorry for transport blunder

Hopefully that planning is going on behind the scenes. Alas, if it is, like much of the planning of our public transport network, how they’re intending to spend taxpayers’ money is being kept secret from taxpayers.

Categories
music TV

The Doctor catches V/Line

Spotted on Saturday after the Doctor Who/Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Symphonic Spectacular:
The Doctor spotted at Southern Cross Station

Reports from the UK suggest Doctor Who has prompted more people to wear bow ties. I don’t know if that’s rubbed off in Australia, but there were certainly more bow ties and fezzes than I’ve ever seen around Melbourne yesterday, both at the venue (the Plenary at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre) and on the way to and from there.

I was impressed that they sold out such a huge venue — twice. (As far as I can see, in the configuration we saw, the Plenary seats over five thousand people.)

And the fact that it was a balanced demographic (male and female, family groups and individuals — not just nerds) attending shows the programme reaches a much wider audience now than it did when I was growing up.

Indeed, at a barbecue on Saturday night, the laughter that I might have once faced when describing the event I’d been to was instead replaced by envy from some who’d tried and failed to get tickets.

Can I just say the event was excellent, by the way. Some great music, bringing memories from the past few years of the show flooding back, as well as some nods to the “classic” episodes of my youth. Host Mark Sheppard was good, and to my surprise, composer of all of the music (bar the theme tune) Murray Gold was also in attendance. Tony has a good write-up of the concert.

Dalek with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

Daleks patrol

Cyberman

Categories
Melbourne

Southern Cross Station as viewed from above

Before last week I’d never seen this view of Southern Cross Station. It looks quite unworldly. CL was giving me a quick tour of Media House — as he commented, it looks like something from Dune.

Southern Cross Station from above

What you can’t see from the photos (not even zoomed-in) is that some sections closest to the edge, and between the lumpy bits, are actually inflatable plastic. Presumably it’s some essential part of the design.

Southern Cross Station from above

Here’s a more conventional angle. Anubis and Chrome are still in residence.

Southern Cross Station main entrance