All roads lead to Southern Cross Station

Laurence DragomirApril 23, 20180 min read

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As covered by Urban.com.au last week, the third discussion paper which forms part of the City of Melbourne's Transport Refresh Strategy has been released. Covering the topic of Transport, the discussion paper highlights a number of key projects to ensure Melbourne doesn't become a victim of its own success.

The Transport Refresh Strategy's discussion paper on Melbourne's Public Transport Network has identified Melbourne Metro 2 as the highest priority transport project, supported by both Infrastructure Victoria and the Rail Network Development Plan.

Melbourne Metro 2 would see a new rail tunnel proposed to link Newport to Clifton Hill via Fishermans Bend with interchange to City Loop services at Southern Cross and Melbourne Metro 1 at Parkville Station.

This should be the highest priority major transport project for Victoria. The project was identified as a priority by Infrastructure Victoria and the Rail Network Development Plan.

The Melbourne Metro Rail Authority is in place with the skills and knowledge to deliver this project.

If planning commenced in 2018, Melbourne Metro 2 construction could begin prior to finishing Metro 1.

The vision for Fishermans Bend will not be realised without Melbourne Metro 2 to enable the transition to a world class urban renewal area.

Further to this, the City of Melbourne has identified a Melbourne Metro 3 which connect Melbourne Airport to Ringwood also traveling via Southern Cross Station. This is on the back of the Federal Government's $5b commitment to delivering a rail link to the airport.

And if as Daniel Andrews says that planning on an airport link would be well advanced by the time Metro 1 is completed it would make sense that the station would be future proofed to allow for both projects, with a new station box likely required to service these new lines. This would be similar to what's happening at Parkville and North Melbourne (formerly Arden) stations.

The next major transport project for further investigation, Melbourne Metro 3 would supplement a regional airport rail connection and open up urban renewal opportunities in the north-west. It will further increase capacity of the rail network and provide for convenient car-free cross city journeys.

Both these alignments are illustrated in the map below:

All roads lead to Southern Cross Station
The future of Melbourne's rail network? Image : City of Melbourne

What these two potential projects highlight and reinforce is Southern Cross' role within Melbourne's transport network is about to take on even greater importance, possibly becoming Melbourne's busiest station in the process.

The station is already the juncture of a number of key modes of transport in addition to servicing both the Melbourne CBD and the Docklands Precinct, and with the recent announcement of Etihad Stadium's redevelopment, there is an opportunity to master plan not just the station but the entire precinct into a large transport node with improved connections from the station to its surrounds and safer interchange between modes particularly during peak times.

This could be achieved by closing off Spencer Street between Collins and Lonsdale Streets as discussed in last week's article on improving the walkability of the CBD.

What it also highlights (Alastair and I briefly discussed it on Episode 10 of the weekly podcast ) is the urgency to deliver at the very least Melbourne Metro 2 and the framework for Metro 3 post completion of Metro 1, utilising the knowledge and skills developed during the project to deliver the next stage and beyond. 

The Napthine Government's Melbourne Rail Link alignment included new metro platforms at South Yarra, with stations at Domain, Montague within Fishermans Bend, a new station box at Southern Cross, and station at Melbourne Airport so some of the ground work has already been done. 

It's also worth remembering that Southern Cross's redevelopment earlier this century was always done with an eye to the future and the station was always envisioned as the departure point to the airport, with material produced during the redevelopment describing how a visitor or local would drop their baggage off at the station and catch a train to the airport.

Already a coach terminal, underneath the Spencer Outlet shopping complex accommodates both Skybus Super Shuttle services to Melbourne Airport and Sunbus Shuttle services to Avalon Airport and there is scope to improve these facilities in the short term but they alone will not be adequate.

If Melbourne is serious about becoming a liveable global city with a world-class transport network it needs to provide the infrastructure for it to happen, it can't rest on its laurels post Metro 1 and City of Melbourne's Transport Strategy Refresh is a good start.

The State Government committing to Melbourne Metro 2 would provide the development industry and existing community in Fishermans Bend with confidence in the urban renewal precinct, acting as a catalyst for development similar to North Melbourne Station and the Arden precinct. 

Docklands wouldn't have developed or attracted the commercial tenants it has, had it not been for Southern Cross Station sitting at its doorstep.

As per the title of this piece, all roads lead to Southern Cross...

Lead image: Grimshaw Architects

Laurence Dragomir

Laurence Dragomir is one of the co-founders of Urban Melbourne. Laurence has developed a wealth of knowledge and experience working in both the private and public sector specialising in architecture, urban design and planning. He also has a keen interest in the built environment, cities and Star Wars.
Tags:
Transport
Southern Cross Station
Melbourne Metro 2
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