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:

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 headed west 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)

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)

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

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…
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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.