Southern Cross railway station

Southern Cross railway station (formerly and still colloquially 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 central business district. The Docklands Stadium sports arena is 500 metres north-west of the station.

The station is owned, operated and maintained by Infranexus (formerly known as AssetCo), a subsidiary of IFM Investors, under a 30-year lease to 2036 from the Victorian State Government, under a public-private partnership.[3][1]

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 17.091 million passenger movements recorded in 2013/14.[4] 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[5] 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,[6] five years after the other major Melbourne rail terminus at Flinders Street, the station was a dead-end terminus, running parallel to Spencer Street,[7][8] composed of a single main platform with a dock platform at the north end.[9] It was not until 1874 that an extra platform was provided.[9]

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.

In 2025 the Pakenham, Cranbourne and Sunbury railway lines will cease to stop at Southern Cross Station when the Metro Tunnel is due to open.

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.[10]

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.[7]

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,[11] 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.[12] It was at this time that the first through platform was provided at the station, for suburban trains from Essendon and Williamstown.[9] The viaduct to Flinders Street was expanded to four tracks in 1915,[12] and in conjunction with the electrification works on the suburban network today's platforms 11 to 14 were opened between 1918 and 1924, along with a pedestrian subway providing access to them.[9]

In 1938 it was announced that construction of an improved station entrance and new car park had been approved, at a cost of £2,000, designed by architects Messrs Stephenson and Meldrum.[13] 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.[9] 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.[9] 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.[14]

The mechanically interlocked signal box at the station opened in 1887,[15] and was decommissioned in June 2008. Originally built with 120 levers, it had 191 when it closed, making it the world's largest.[16]

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.[17] 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".[18] 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.[19]

By July 2004 the project had fallen behind schedule and over budget by $200 million.[20] 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.[21]

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.[22] The other buildings nominated were the Des Moines Public Library and the Hearst Tower, New York City.[23]

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.[24][25] 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.

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 Marvel 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.[26]

The station's wavy roof traps diesel fumes emitted by locomotives, which has caused illness among staff.[27]

2010s: Additional platforms

As part of the Regional Rail Link program an extra two platforms (15/16) were constructed and opened in December 2013.[28][29]

Water Tower Clock

In May 2014, the historic Water Tower Clock was installed in the concourse of the station.[30] 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.[31][32]

Platforms and services

Overlooking platforms 8, 7 & 6
Overlooking platforms 9 & 10
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
Shops in the concourse

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. Both concourses are further divided into an open access regional section for platforms 1 though 8, and a closed access suburban section for platforms 9 though 14.


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.

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.

Platform 1 & 2:

Broad gauge

Platform 15-16 Northern Concourse
Interior of Southern Cross station in rush hour

Platform 1 through 8 & Platform 15 & Platform 16

Suburban Platforms 9 to 14

Platform 9:

Platform 10:

Platform 11:

Platform 12:

Platform 13:

Platform 14:

Metropolitan transport links

Spencer Street tram stop in February 2014

McKenzie's Tourist Services operates one route to and from Southern Cross station:

Transdev Melbourne operate three routes via Southern Cross station:

Yarra Trams operate nine services via Southern Cross Station:

From Collins Street:

From Harbour Esplanade:

From Spencer Street:

Regional transport links

The following coach services are operated to and from Southern Cross station by private companies on behalf of V/Line[46]:


  1. ^ a b c "About Us". AssetCo. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Train Station Patronage FY2008-2014" (XLS). Public Transport Victoria. 14 May 2015. Archived from the original on 30 March 2016. Retrieved 1 November 2016. (access from "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 November 2016. Retrieved 1 November 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link))
  3. ^ "Southern Cross Station". Retrieved 4 October 2016.
  4. ^ Station Patronage Research Archived 23 May 2016 at the Wayback Machine Public Transport Victoria
  5. ^ Geelong-Avalon Airport shuttle bus service replaced by SkyBus Geelong Advertiser 9 July 2017
  6. ^ Infrastructure – Southern Cross Vicsig
  7. ^ a b Vance Findlay (August 2003). "More on Batman's Hill Station". Newsrail: 238–240.
  8. ^ "MELBOURNE AND WILLIAMSTOWN RAILWAY". The Argus (Melbourne) (3, 924). Victoria, Australia. 8 January 1859. p. 5. Retrieved 2 March 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Sid Brown (November 2002). "Batman's Hill to Southern Cross – via Spencer Street". Newsrail: 335–347.
  10. ^ Accepted Designs for the New Railway Stations, Melbourne. State Library of Victoria
  11. ^ Official Design for New Station at Spencer Street
  12. ^ a b Department of Infrastructure: Early history of Southern Cross Station Archived 4 June 2009 at the Library of Congress Web Archives
  13. ^ "Spencer Street Improved Station £2,000 Plan Adopted". The Argus. 5 February 1938. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  14. ^ "Spencer Street Subway". Walking Melbourne. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
  15. ^ Edmonds, Mike (20 July 2007). "Signal box concerns". Herald Sun. News. Retrieved 7 June 2008.
  16. ^ "The World's Largest Signalbox" The Railway Magazine issue 1341 January 2013 page 33
  17. ^ The roof transporting us to tomorrow The Age 25 March 2005]
  18. ^ Marc Pallisco (3 October 2009). "DFO South Wharf, Melbourne to Open October 15". Retrieved 10 May 2010.
  19. ^ Time's up at last for railway landmark The Age 14 December 2005
  20. ^ Auditor-General’s Report on the Annual Financial Report of the State of Victoria, 2005–06 Archived 2 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ All change at Spencer St The Age 9 July 2005]
  22. ^ "Southern Cross Station in Melbourne Wins Prestigious International Architecture Award". 22 June 2007. Archived from the original on 8 June 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
  23. ^ "Revamped Melbourne station wins international award". ABC News Online. 23 June 2007. Retrieved 23 June 2007.
  24. ^ "Man critical after horror fall from escalator at Southern Cross". The Age. Melbourne. 14 July 2010. Retrieved 12 April 2011.
  25. ^ "Woman badly hurt in station fall". The Age. Melbourne. 25 June 2010. Retrieved 12 April 2011.
  26. ^ "Station's curves prove real head-turner". The Age. Melbourne. 14 July 2007.
  27. ^ Cauchi, Stephen (22 June 2006). "Station bosses defend roof but will move staff from fumes". The Age. Melbourne.
  28. ^ Platforms 15 and 16 Regional Rail Link
  29. ^ Changes to Geelong line services from 22 December 2013 Public Transport Victoria
  30. ^ "Melbourne's 130-year-old Water Tower Clock back at Southern Cross station". Melbourne Leader. 15 May 2014. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
  31. ^ "Old clock's time to shine". Museum Victoria. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
  32. ^ "Water Tower clock installed at Southern Cross Station" Railway Digest July 2014 page 23
  33. ^ "684 Eildon - Melbourne via Lilydale Station". Public Transport Victoria.
  34. ^ "232 Altona North - City (Queen Victoria Market)". Public Transport Victoria.
  35. ^ "235 City - Fishermans Bend via Williamstown Road". Public Transport Victoria.
  36. ^ "237 City - Fishermans Bend via Lorimer Street". Public Transport Victoria.
  37. ^ "11 West Preston - Victoria Harbour Docklands". Public Transport Victoria.
  38. ^ "48 North Balwyn - Victoria Harbour Docklands". Public Transport Victoria.
  39. ^ "109 Box Hill - Port Melbourne". Public Transport Victoria.
  40. ^ "12 Victoria Gardens - St Kilda". Public Transport Victoria.
  41. ^ "35 City Circle (Free Tourist Tram)". Public Transport Victoria.
  42. ^ "70 Waterfront City Docklands - Wattle Park". Public Transport Victoria.
  43. ^ "75 Etihad Stadium Docklands - Vermont South". Public Transport Victoria.
  44. ^ "86 Bundoora RMIT - Waterfront City Docklands". Public Transport Victoria.
  45. ^ "96 East Brunswick - St Kilda Beach". Public Transport Victoria.
  46. ^ "Timetable list". V/Line - Regional public transport for Victoria. Retrieved 18 March 2018.

External links