MetroFAIL: Southern Cross Station

We spent absolutely millions redeveloping a station that was working pretty well already, and all we got to show for it was a prestigious architectural award (the Lubetkin Prize, if you’re curious).

In return, we got a sterling example of the modern monstrosity school of architecture (like almost all new construction in Melbourne from the Kennett era on). Moreover, it’s one of the major entry points to Melbourne for interstate visitors, so that was well done.

What else? How about:

  • A station that no longer bears the same name that served it just fine for over a century, but now bears a cheerfully meaningless name that gives no hint of its location. What was so wrong with calling it Spencer Street Station that it needed to change? Or is this part of some long term station renaming plan, intended to bring it into line with the also-confusing-to-tourists Melbourne Central Station?
  • A station that is darker than nearly any other in the metropolitan network. Would it have been so hard to do the whole roof in clear materials, rather than just some of it? I’m given to understand that such materials do wear out faster than the opaque ones that were used, but would that cost not be offset by the savings in electricity and replacement light bulbs?
  • A station in which, although it offers no protection from the winds to passengers on the platforms, it is impossible to escape diesel fumes.
  • A station whose public toilets were carefully located in a cul de sac, in order to ensure minimum usage and the consequent savings in the cleaning budget.
  • A station where it is nigh on impossible to find out what time the next train is before reaching the platforms, especially at the Collins Street end.
  • A statiion which no longer allows underground access from the opposite side of Spencer Street, thus increasing the disruption to road traffic and the danger to pedestrians entering or exiting the station.

So yes, for all these things, it’s another job well done to our brilliant state government and the corporate interests that are its preferred bed partners.

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