Southern Cross railway station

Southern Cross
Inter-city, regional and commuter rail station
Main entrance to the station on the corner of Collins & Spencer Streets in December 2007
General information
LocationSpencer Street, Melbourne, Victoria
Coordinates37°49′06″S 144°57′09″E / 37.8184°S 144.9524°E / -37.8184; 144.9524Coordinates: 37°49′06″S 144°57′09″E / 37.8184°S 144.9524°E / -37.8184; 144.9524
Owned byIFM Investors
Operated byCivic Nexus (Southern Cross Station Pty Ltd)
Line(s)Alamein (weekday pre-peak and post-peak only)
Flemington Racecourse (special events only)
Glen Waverley
North East
Structure typeGround level with mezzanine
Bicycle facilities12
Disabled accessYes
Other information
StatusPremium station
Station codeSSS
Fare zone1
WebsiteSouthern Cross Station Pty Ltd Public Transport Victoria (public transport information)
Opened17 January 1859; 163 years ago (1859-01-17)
Rebuilt1960s and 2000s
ElectrifiedPlatforms 8 to 14 only
Previous namesSpencer Street (before December 2005)
2008-200913.089 million
2009–201014.400 million Increase 10.02%
2010–201116.930 million Increase 17.57%
2011–201216.828 million Decrease 0.6%
2012–2013Not measured
2013–201417.091 million Increase 1.56%
2014–2015Not measured
2015–201616.581 million Decrease 2.99%
2016–201717.471 million Increase 5.37%
2017–201818.614 million Increase 6.54%
Preceding station Metro Trains Following station
Direction of travel on metropolitan lines between stations on the City Loop changes to either Flinders Street or Flagstaff depending on the line and time of day.
Flinders Street
One-way operation
Mernda line Flagstaff
towards Mernda
Hurstbridge line Flagstaff
towards Hurstbridge
Flinders Street
Pakenham line Flagstaff
One-way operation
Cranbourne line
Lilydale line Flagstaff
towards Lilydale or Belgrave
Belgrave line
Alamein line
Limited weekday peak services only
towards Alamein
Glen Waverley line Flagstaff
Upfield line North Melbourne
towards Upfield
Craigieburn line North Melbourne
towards Craigieburn
Flemington Racecourse line North Melbourne
Sunbury line North Melbourne
towards Sunbury
Flinders Street
towards Frankston
Werribee line North Melbourne
towards Werribee
Williamstown line North Melbourne
towards Williamstown
Regional services
Preceding station V/Line Following station
Terminus Albury line Broadmeadows
towards Albury
Seymour line
Weekday peak only
North Melbourne
towards Seymour
Seymour line Broadmeadows
towards Seymour
Shepparton line
1 weekday peak service
North Melbourne
towards Shepparton
Shepparton line Broadmeadows
towards Shepparton
Geelong line Footscray
Warrnambool line Footscray
towards Warrnambool
Ballarat line Footscray
towards Wendouree
Ballarat line Footscray
Ararat line Footscray
towards Ararat
Bendigo line Footscray
towards Bendigo, Epsom or Eaglehawk
Swan Hill line Footscray
towards Swan Hill
Echuca line Footscray
towards Echuca
Flinders Street Gippsland line Terminus
Preceding station TfNSW T.png NSW TrainLink Following station
Terminus NSW TrainLink Southern Line
Melbourne XPT
toward Sydney
Preceding station Journey Beyond Following station
Terminus The Overland North Shore
towards Adelaide

Southern Cross railway station (until 2005 known as Spencer Street station) is a major railway station in Docklands, Melbourne. It is on Spencer Street, between Collins and La Trobe Streets, at the western edge of the Melbourne central business district. The Docklands Stadium sports arena is 500 metres north-west of the station.

The station is owned, operated and maintained by Civic Nexus, a subsidiary of IFM Investors and operating as Southern Cross Station Pty Ltd, under a 30-year lease to 2036 from the Victorian State Government, as part of a public-private partnership. Southern Cross Station Pty Ltd contracts Infranexus Management Pty Ltd (Infranexus) for management services. Infranexus is also wholly owned by IFM.

The station is the terminus of the state's regional railway network operated by V/Line, The Overland rail service to Adelaide, and NSW TrainLink XPT services to Sydney. It is 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 Central Business District. It is the second busiest railway station in Melbourne's metropolitan network, with 18.614 million passenger movements recorded in 2017/18. This figure excludes V/Line passengers who use the station.

Southern Cross also has a coach terminal underneath the Spencer Outlet shopping complex. Skybus Super Shuttle services to Melbourne Airport and since 2017 to Avalon Airport operate from there, as well as Firefly Express and Greyhound Australia interstate coach services, a coach ran public bus (684) and V/Line coach services to Mildura, Yarram, Mansfield, and other parts of Victoria not served by rail.


Spencer Street station platforms and goods sheds, circa 1885
Lithograph of the busy station complex in 1889 looking west from the Hoddle Grid

Opened as Spencer Street Station in 1859, five years after the other major Melbourne rail terminus at Flinders Street, the station was a dead-end terminus, running parallel to Spencer Street, composed of a single main platform with a dock platform at the north end. It was not until 1874 that an extra platform was provided.

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

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

In 1891, further plans were made for a significant new station complex, including three-storey office complex and dominant clock tower, reminiscent of the later Sydney Central station, but the 1890s Depression put an end to such expensive schemes.

In 1888, work started on the double track Flinders Street Viaduct linking the station to Flinders Street station. The line was initially only used by freight trains, with passenger train operations commencing in 1894. It was at that time that the first through platform was provided at the station, used by suburban trains from Essendon and Williamstown. The viaduct to Flinders Street was expanded to four tracks in 1915 and, following the electrification of the suburban lines through the station, today's platforms 11 to 14 were opened in 1924, along with a pedestrian subway providing access to them.

In 1938, it was announced that construction of an improved station entrance and new car park had been approved, designed by architects Messrs Stephenson and Meldrum, costing £2,000. Once again however, no construction took place.

1960s: Modernisation

In October 1960, work on a new Spencer Street station commenced, sparked by the construction of the interstate standard gauge line to Sydney. A station building was constructed which largely replaced the 1880s iron sheds, and a new 413-metre (1,355 ft) platform number 1 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 General Post Office and main postal sorting office, situated on the other side of Spencer Street.

The mechanically interlocked signal box at the station opened in 1887, and was decommissioned in June 2008. Originally built with 120 levers, it had 191 when it closed, making it the world's largest.

Artist Harold Freedman's 36.6 metre long and 7.32 metre high History of Transport mural featured above the main concourse of the Spencer Street station and was unveiled by the premier of Victoria on January 30 1978. During radical redevelopment (2002–2006) Freedman's mural was removed, but due to bargaining by the CFMEU, it remains on display above shop-fronts in the adjacent retail centre, DFO.

2000s: Redevelopment

Work on the station in 2004
Work on the roof in January 2005
Construction work inside the station in late 2005

Southern Cross was redeveloped by the Civic Nexus consortium, following an innovative design by Grimshaw Architects and Jackson Architecture 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 coach 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.

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 2013 the shopping complex was rebranded as "Spencer Outlet Centre".

In addition to the physical modifications, the station was renamed 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 Contractors, 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 WSP Global. 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. The pedestrian subway access was removed in favour of street level and elevated concourses. The 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 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-meter ascent and descent is more than necessary to clear the height of trains, and more than the three-meter descent and ascent of the previous subway.

Local architects have cited some of the Southern Cross Station's shortcomings: the building's poor connection to the surrounding streets; its awkward juncture at the pedestrian bridge that links Spencer Street to Docklands Stadium; and the baffling manner in which the grand architectural gesture of Southern Cross Station tapers off into an uninspired homage to the boxy 1980s shopping mall — Spencer Outlet Centre, which houses department store Harris Scarfe along with Witchery, Cotton On, Starbucks and many more outlets.

2010s: Additional platforms

As part of the Regional Rail Link project an extra two platforms (15/16) were constructed and opened in December 2013. These are divided into 15a, 15b, 16a and 16b. They are often used for Gippsland Services, and the lines that use the RRL tracks to Sunshine (Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo lines). These platforms allow trains to avoid the North Melbourne Flyover, which is an inconvenience for trains as it has a maximum speed of 15 km/h, and has shown to cause abnormal wheel wear on the VLocity fleet, as confirmed by an independent report commissioned by V/Line in 2016 to find out the cause of the problem, which ultimately led to up to a month of cancellations of services.

Water Tower Clock

In May 2014, the historic Water Tower Clock was installed in the concourse of the station. The clock had originally been erected in 1882 at Flinders Street station, opposite the end of Elizabeth Street, atop a lattice tower about 60 feet (18 m) high. In 1902 the clock was moved to Princes Bridge station, and in 1910 it was relocated again, to Spencer Street station, where it remained until it was removed as part of the station's redevelopment in the mid-1960s. The clock mechanism was given to Museum Victoria, but the characteristic turret that housed the clock was sold to a scrap metal merchant. It was later rescued by private collectors, and the clock was returned to public ownership, being put on display in 1999 at the Scienceworks Museum, Spotswood. The clock was extensively restored before its return to Southern Cross, but the original mechanism remains in the collection of Museum Victoria.

Platforms and services

Overlooking platforms 8, 7 & 6
V/Line platforms
The northern ("B") platforms as seen from the Bourke Street footbridge. Platform 3B is in the foreground and Docklands Stadium is in the background

Platforms are numbered from east to west.


The main concourse of Southern Cross station
Concourse retail

Concourses are provided at Bourke and Collins Streets. Platform 1 is north of Bourke Street, while Platform 8 South is south of Collins Street. The remainder of platforms are located between Bourke and Collins Streets, with access from both concourses, with regional services from platforms 1 to 8, and suburban services from platforms 9 to 16 (platform 8 can also accommodate suburban services if necessary).


Platform 15-16 Northern Concourse
The station during rush hour

Platforms 2 to 7, as well as platforms 15 and 16 are numbered as two sections: section A from the Collins Street concourse to the Bourke Street Footbridge, and section B beyond the Bourke Street Footbridge. These sections were previously known as the "Central" (2C to 8C) and "North" (2N to 8N) platforms, respectively. Platform 8 has these two sections and also a "South" section (8S) underneath Collins Street used commonly for Seymour services.

Platforms 1 and 2 are fitted with dual gauge track, permitting both standard gauge interstate trains and V/Line broad gauge trains. The remainder of the platforms are solely broad gauge. A motorail dock is located at the northern end of the platform, with standard gauge access only.

VLocity and Sprinter DMUs await their departure from Melbourne's Southern Cross

Standard gauge

Platforms 1 & 2:

Broad gauge

Platforms 1–7:

Platform 8:

Broad gauge V/Line services departing Platforms 1-7 also depart from Platform 8

Platform 9:
Destinations via City Loop – Clifton Hill Group:

Platform 10:
Destinations via City Loop – Burnley Group:

Platform 11:
Destinations via City Loop – Northern Group:

Platform 12:
Destinations via Flinders Street – Caulfield Group:

Platform 13:
Destinations via Flinders Street:

Platform 14:
Destinations via North Melbourne:

Platforms 15 & 16:

Broad gauge V/Line services departing Platforms 1-8 also depart from Platforms 15 & 16.

Transport links


Spencer Street tram stop in February 2014

Kinetic Melbourne operate three routes via Southern Cross Coach Terminal, under contract to Public Transport Victoria:

McKenzie's Tourist Services operates one route to and from Southern Cross station, under contract to Public Transport Victoria:

Yarra Trams operate nine services via Southern Cross station:

From Collins Street:

From Harbour Esplanade:

From Bourke Street:


The following coach services are operated to and from Southern Cross station by private companies on behalf of V/Line:

This page was last updated at 2022-06-01 09:37 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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