Why does one visit a railway station? For most people it is to catch a train, but unfortunately for some commuters in Melbourne that is easier said than done, since the powers that be decided to flog many stations off to commercial interests who treat them as cash cows.
Melbourne first railway station to be turned against commuters was Melbourne Central in 2003, when large chunks of the station concourse was sold off by railway infrastructure manager VicTrack as part of the rebuilding of the neighbouring shopping centre. The most noticeable change was the removal of the direct escalators from Swanston Street down to the station concourse, with commuters instead being sent through a maze of passageways and two flights of escalators to reach the same place. 10 years on and the situation at Melbourne Central Station isn’t any better – a few months ago access to the station was down to a single lane walkway due to the premiere of American Pie Reunion at the attached Hoyts cinemas.
Next to be privatised was Southern Cross Station in 2002, when the State Government’s Spencer Street Station Authority signed a contract with private consortium Civic Nexus Pty Ltd to design, construct and manage the redeveloped station for 30 years. I’ve previously posted how commuter access has been bastardised, but the 2012 Grand Prix gave me an even more outstanding example, when they set up a merchandise stall in the *middle* of the Bourke Street entrance.
The transition of railway stations into commercial locations hit a new low last week at Southern Cross, when commuters were unable to access the station without the possibility of their face appearing in an advertising promotion.
The reason for the film crew clogging up the main entrance of Southern Cross Station: the launch event for a new line of snackfoods.
In total there was a roving cameraman and another perched atop a scaffold, a professional-grade video camera strapped to the top of a fence, and a GoPro hidden away atop a column.
You can see the results of the Adelaide version of the promotion on YouTube: How far will you go for Fantastic Delites – Delite-o-matic.
Is there any limit to how far the private managers of Melbourne’s railway stations can pimp out commuters?