Photos from ten years ago: July 2011

Another instalment in my photos from ten years ago series – this time it is July 2011.

Work on the new shopping centre in Myer's old Lonsdale Street store

Open House Melbourne

The last weekend of July is usually Open House Melbourne, so I did the rounds of places normally closed to the public.

First off, the underground Russell Place electrical substation.

Listening to our tour guide

Complete with mercury arc rectifiers.

Checking out the mercury arc rectifier

Hamer Hall, which was mid renovation.

All of the seats stripped out of Hamer Hall

The former Land Titles Office on Queen Street.

Three levels of fun inside the main strongroom

Toured the back of house areas of the State Library of Victoria.

Digging through the card catalogue

A rooftop garden at 278 Flinders Lane.

Origin Energy's rooftop garden atop 278 Flinders Lane

The Myer Mural Hall.

Mural Hall at Myer Melbourne

Melbourne’s first skyscraper – ICI House.

Ground floor lift lobby of ICI House, Melbourne

Up to the top of 50 Lonsdale Street.

Looking south-west over the low rise CBD shopping area

And down into the Royal Melbourne Hospital steam tunnels.

Following our tour guide along the tunnels

Trains and trams

One morning I was on my way to work, and found something odd – a V/Line train being pushed by a suburban electric train!

Driver of the Comeng waiting for the signal over the Viaduct

The V/Line train had run out of fuel at Footscray, so to keep things moving in the lead up to morning peak, it was pushed out of the way by the first train behind.

I found another public transport oddity down at Appleton Dock – a tram sitting on the back of a truck.

Flexity 113 on a low loader at Melbourne's Appleton Dock, awaiting the trip west to Adelaide

The Bombardier-built Flexity tram had just arrived from Germany by sea, and was ready to head for Adelaide to run on the Glenelg line.

But an everyday sight back in 2011 was ticket machines onboard Melbourne trams.

Intermediate section of a D2 class Combino tram: the one with four doors and the Metcard ticket machine

Removed following the decommissioning of the Metcard ticketing system in December 2012, it was originally planned to replace them with Myki machines, but the idea was abandoned in 2011.

Another then-unremarkable view was this one from Wurundjeri Way looking back towards Southern Cross Station.

View of the northern side of Southern Cross Station, from Wurundjeri Way

A pair of office towers now occupy the western roof of Southern Cross Station, the Regional Rail Link tracks now occupy the roadside, and the skyline behind is full of new apartment towers.


A forgettable building in the Melbourne CBD is 405 Bourke Street. Launched back in 2007 as ‘The Foundry’, by 2011 the shopping centre had been boarded up, the original developer having gone into liquidation.

Apartments at 405 Bourke Street

But a decade later things have changed – a new 43 storey tall office development has been built on the site, cantilevered 10 metres over the heritage listed building.

Another unremarkable building was the last remaining part of the West Gate Bridge toll plaza – the abandoned VicRoads control room in Port Melbourne.

Looking down the abandoned West Gate Bridge administration building

Located next door to the tensile membrane roofed service station.

Shell petrol station at the eastbound West Gate Bridge service centre

The site had just been sold to a developer, with demolition commencing a few months later.

Overgrown gardens outside the former West Gate Bridge Authority administration building

Warehouses now occupy the site.

Finally, another abandoned site I visited this month was the former Gilbertson’s Meatworks in Altona North.

Abandoned SBA Foods shop on Kyle Road

Empty for years, the site was finally cleared in 2012, and rezoned for residential development – with ‘Haven’ by Stockland and ‘The Fabric’ by Mirvac both under construction today.

And new construction

In 2011 demolition was well underway at the former Myer store on Lonsdale Street.

Looking out from Myer's Bourke Street store to the old Lonsdale Street store being gutted

The facade was still there.

Work on the new shopping centre in Myer's old Lonsdale Street store

But a wall of scaffolding was on the way up.

Facade of Myer's old Lonsdale Street store propped up for renovations

Ready to support the building.

Scaffolding towers over Little Bourke Street, Melbourne

While the guts were ripped out of the middle.

Looking out from Myer's Bourke Street store to the old Lonsdale Street store being gutted

Emporium Melbourne was then built on the site, opening to shoppers in 2014.


Here you can find the rest of my ‘photos from ten years ago‘ series.

Never built ‘Parliament Square’ at the top of Bourke Street

Since Melbourne was established as a city a grand civic square has been something lacking. Many attempts have been made over the years to build one, and today’s example is the 1929 ‘Parliament Square’ proposal for the top end of Bourke Street.

The proposal was included in the Plan for General Development created by the Metropolitan Town Planning Commission in 1929, when Parliament House was the tallest building in the area.

And would have seen a major redevelopment of East Melbourne to the north-east of the Hoddle Grid.

On Spring Street, the eastern boundary of the City proper, are located the Houses of Parliament, the Treasury Buildings in which are housed the Executive Council and other Ministerial Departments, the Hotel Windsor, the Princess Theatre, and other buildings which would be suitable for incorporation in a scheme of architectural treatment for this part of the City.

The eastern approaches to Collins and Bourke streets form very unsatisfactory intersections at Spring Street, and in view of the fact that there is a large amount of open space on the eastern side of Spring Street through which these approach roads pass, the opportunity has been taken of propounding a scheme of remodelling for the whole area. The old High School, at the corner of Victoria Parade, is being superseded by modern new buildings on other sites, the new high school for boys having been completed at South Yarra.

The black hatchings on the plan on opposite page indicate the existing Houses of Parliament, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and St. Peter’s Church in Gisborne Street, the Metropolitan Fire Brigade also in Gisborne Street, the Governmental administrative offices in the area north of the Treasury Gardens, all of which, in conjunction with the buildings in Spring Street, and the site of the old and superseded High School, form a substantial nucleus for a scheme of grouping for prominent buildings in this elevated situation.

It will be seen that by relocating the streets in this area and combining the several reserves, a considerable area admirably suited for the formation of a “Parliament Square” would be available.

Roads would be altered.

The suggested treatment is shown on the plan on previous page. Evelyn Street and Carpentaria Place have been abolished, McArthur Street has been diverted, and the western end of Albert Street has been abandoned. A new scheme of roadways has been planned to harmonise with the park treatment and to supply greatly improved access to the east-west city streets.

In order to facilitate traffic movements at the intersections of Lonsdale and Bourke streets with Spring Street, the corners have been rounded and a small central feature inserted. The sites of a few existing houses and other buildings of an inferior type fronting Victoria Parade have been included as a part of the scheme, but no substantial resumptions are involved excepting for the rounding of the corners referred to.

The street arrangement is designed to overcome the unsatisfactory layout in this area and to abolish dangerous intersections. Traffic on the streets in the vicinity and through the area could be more easily controlled, and larger volumes accommodated with less congestion.

To make way for a grand building at the top end of Lonsdale Street.

It is suggested that the principal building which might be erected in this setting should be in line with Lonsdale Street as shown on the plan, so that the vista along this street would be terminated by a building of suitable architecture, surrounded by open space so that it may be viewed from all angles.

Between the suggested building and Parliament House, a square capable of accommodating a considerable assemblage can be formed. The completion of the northern wing of Parliament House would materially improve the scheme.

The sites, shown in white, would be available for other public buildings, while the whole of the western or Spring Street frontage could be utilised in due time for other prominent buildings of approved architecture.

And connecting the existing gardens around the CBD.

The suggested treatment would effectively link the Carlton Gardens with the Treasury and Fitzroy Gardens, the continuity of garden treatment being broken only by buildings of architectural importance. The Commission is of the opinion that this scheme, if adopted, would greatly enhance the beauty of the City, would lend dignity to buildings and institutions erected in it, would improve the whole neighbourhood, and provide much safer and more satisfactory road facilities than now exist in this area. The aerial view shows the present conditions on the greater part of the area included in the proposed remodelling. It clearly illustrates how the gardens and parks could be made to form beautiful surroundings for buildings of suitable architectural character.

So what happened?

As you might expect, nothing came of the 1929 plans, but in 1954 the Melbourne Metropolitan Planning Scheme proposed a scaled back proposal – demolition of the top end of Bourke Street to form a Civic Square outside Parliament House, and a freeway beneath Spring Street.

The only part of that project to proceed was the Commonwealth Centre at 275 Spring Street completed in 1958, and the State Government Office at 1 Treasury Place completed in 1970.

Tracking down the route 82 covid tram

Last night a new exposure site was added to the Victorian Government coronavirus website – the route 82 tram from Footscray to Edgewater on 10/07/2021 between 7:51pm – 8:14pm. But which tram was involved – turns out my Tram Detective website has the answer.

Route 82 terminus in Footscray, with Z3.165 awaiting departure time

So what is Tram Detective?

Tram Detective is a tool I built that collects data from the TramTracker API every 10 minutes for every tram in Melbourne.

Detail of D2.5004 advertising 'TramTracker'

It then slices and dices the data to give insights into how the fleet is deployed, when new trams enter service, old trams are retired, and give gunzels a ‘heads up’ for unusual tram movements.

So lets go digging

The Victorian Government coronavirus website has a list of exposure sites, with route 82 tram from Footscray to Edgewater on 10/07/2021 between 7:51pm – 8:14pm one of them.

Finding out which trams were running on route 82 on July 10 was easy – Tram Detective has a page that does just that already.

A total of 12 trams ran a route 82 service that day – Z3.118, 124, 125, 130, 147, 154, 165, 179, 181, 186, 212, 218 and 228.

Tram Detective also lets you drill down to specific trams and see what route they were running on a given day, as well as at a specific time – but it doesn’t give you a way to see their exact location.

For that I had to run a query on the backend database that powers the site.

SELECT tramid, sighting, destination, direction FROM trams_history WHERE routeNo = 82 AND sighting > '2021-07-10 19:40' AND sighting < '2021-07-10 20:30' ORDER BY tramid, id;

And after waiting for my poor database server to filter through years worth of data, it gave me an answer.

During the exposure period there were six trams running on route 82 - Z3.124, 125, 165, 181, 218 and 228. Taking a closer look at the data, one can determine in which direction they are headed.

  • Z3.124 was headed for Footscray during the entire exposure period.
  • Z3.218 and Z3.228 were headed for Moonee Ponds during the entire exposure period.
  • Z3.165 was headed for Footscray, arriving at the terminus sometime between 7:54pm and 8:04pm.
  • Z3.125 was headed for Footscray, arriving at the terminus sometime between 8:12pm and 8:22pm.

Which leaves tram Z3.181 - it was was headed for Footscray at 7:40pm then headed back towards Moonee Ponds at 7:50pm - right in the middle of the exposure period.

July 20 - a correction

My original post flagged Z3.186 as the affected tram, based on the following data:

Turns out I messed up the database query that I was running!

My server saves datetime data in the server timezone, and application code converting the value back to Melbourne time when you view the page. By leaving this timezone conversion out of my SQL queries, I was looking at the wrong slice of time, and came to an incorrect conclusion.

Building the Spencer Street Station subway – a history

Last week I went sniffing around Southern Cross Station, on the hunt for the remains of the pedestrian subway that until 2005 was the main access route through the station This week we go digging deeper into the history of Spencer Street Station, and the story behind the subway that ran beneath it.

Spencer Street Station Redevelopment newsletter Interchange Issue 5: May 2002

In the beginning

Spencer Street Station opened in 1859 as dead end terminus, five years after Flinders Street Station. The platform ran parallel to Spencer Street – not on an angle like today – and had a single main platform, with a dock platform at the north end. In the years that followed, the number of platforms expanded, but access was always via the southern end.

PROV image VPRS 12800/P1, item H 1109

In 1888 work started on a double-track viaduct linking Spencer Street Station to Flinders Street Station, with the line opening in 1891 to goods traffic, and in 1894 to passenger trains. In conjunction with this project a through platform was provided on the western edge of the station complex.

PROV image VPRS 12800/P1 item H 1501

Passengers accessing the island platform via a footbridge to the south end.

PROV image VPRS 12800/P1, item H 1497

Leading them to the suburban concourse at the south end of the existing station.

VPRS 12800/P1, item H 1498

Enter the first subway

In conjunction with the electrification of the Melbourne suburban rail network, the viaduct to Flinders Street was expanded to four tracks in 1915, and between 1918 and 1924 four additional platforms were built at Spencer Street Station – today’s platforms 11 though 14.

PROV image VPRS 12800/P1, item H 1507

The new platforms were west of the existing station.

PROV image VPRS 12800/P1, item H 1505

With access provided by a tiled pedestrian subway.

PROV image VPRS 12800/P3, item ADV 0620

Linked to each island platform by ramps, not stairs.

PROV image VPRS 12800/P1, item H 1508

Note the resemblance to the pedestrian subways at Flinders Street Station – constructed during the same period.

New LED strip lighting in the Centre Subway at Flinders Street Station

But this subway did not stretch the entire length of the station – the sub ended country platforms were still accessed via the concourse at the southern end.

PROV image VPRS 12800/P3 item ADV 1580

Leaving a ramshackle mess of station facilities for intending passengers.

Diagram from ‘Railway Transportation’ magazine

The 1960s redevelopment

Having grown organically over the years, there had been many proposals to rebuild Spencer Street Station into something befitting it’s status as the main country railway station for Melbourne. However it took the Melbourne-Albury standard gauge railway project to finally see the go ahead given for a new station, with work starting in 1960.

Victorian Railways annual report 1961-62

The new station building on Spencer Street was the most visible part of the project, but the major change for passengers was the construction of a new subways beneath the existing platforms.

Weston Langford photo

The work included:

  • suburban subway with north and south facing ramps on Spencer Street, running west beneath the existing station to the existing subway that served platforms 9 through 14;
  • a parallel country subway linking the basement of the new station building to platforms 1 through 8;
  • parcels subway at the north end of the station, providing a segregated route for parcel and baggage trolleys between the parcels office and country platforms 1 through 8.

PROV VPRS 12903/P1, Box 683/01

Work on the new station was completed in 1965.

Melbourne Spencer St 045-315 CAD sheet 03 11
Photo by Graeme Butler, part of the 1985 Melbourne Central Activities District (CAD) Conservation Study

Extension into the CBD

An eastern extension to the suburban pedestrian subway beneath Spencer Street commenced in 1973, with the tunnel breakthrough made on 18 June 1974.

PROV image VPRS 12800/P1, item H 4221

Opened to pedestrians on 11 September 1975, the tunnel continued east of the station.

Subway under Spencer Street itself, looking east

Where it split to serve three exits.

Subway under Spencer Street itself, looking east

One towards Bourke Street, emerging from the Savoy Hotel on the northern corner of Spencer and Little Collins Street.

Former Spencer Street Station subway entrance via the Savoy Hotel on Spencer Street

With escalator and stairs to street level.

Savoy Hotel exit to Bourke Street from the subway under Spencer Street

A second exit with escalator and stairs led towards Collins Street, passing through the basement of MMBW House at the southern corner of Spencer and Little Collins Street.

Exit from the subway, leading onto Spencer Street from under MMBW House

And a third exit with just stairs led to Little Collins Street, emerging outside the Savoy Hotel.

Hillside Trains / Bayside Trains / V/Line sign outside Spencer Street Station

A final extension

In conjunction with the Melbourne Docklands development, the station subway was extended 80 metres west under Wurundjeri Way, to give access to the brand new Docklands Stadium.

Faded Melbourne Docklands authority branded 'Little Collins Street Subway Extension' sign opposite platform 14

Building the subway before the road made construction easier.

The subway was constructed to extend the existing Spencer Street subway. It is a reinforced concrete structure 9 metres wide to match the width of the existing subway. It extends the existing subway a distance of 80 metres.

Most of the subway was constructed using cut-and-cover construction and in-situ concrete as it was in the clear. For the section under the tracks, the reinforced concrete tunnel section was first cast alongside the tracks, and during an occupation, the material under the track was excavated and the tunnel jacked into position. A length of the cut-and-cover tunnel was first cast to provide the anchor block for the jacking operation.

With the extended subway ending at a roller door.

Docklands end of the main passenger subway, just west of Wurundjeri Way. Opened in the early 2000s and now abandoned.

The beginning of the end

The primacy of the subway for access to Spencer Street Station ended in 2000, when the Bourke Street Bridge was completed as part of the Docklands Trunk Infrastructure project.

Ian Harrison Photo, SLV H2000.184/20

The new 20 metre wide, 205 metre long pedestrian bridge stretched across the station platforms, forming an extension of Bourke Street towards the new Docklands Stadium.

Weston Langford photo

And also included escalator, stair and lift access to platforms 3/4, 9/10, 11/12 and 13/14 at Spencer Street Station.

Diagram from ‘Bridges for Melbourne Docklands Infrastructure’

The Spencer Street Station Authority was also created, to manage the redevelopment of the station.

The Spencer Street Station Authority commenced operations on 1 July 2001, having been created by legislation and supported by all sides of Parliament.

In its first 17 months, the Authority has concentrated on improvements to public safety and amenity, for the 60,000 – 70,000 people who pass through the station each day. Matters such as emergency evacuation procedures, fire services, security, cleaning and public health have been dealt with, as well as a considerable upgrade to retail facilities, seating, signage, etc.

The aging escalators between the subway and Spencer Street were one issue – so they took the cheap option of taking them out of service, and enclosing them in timber boxes.

Signage in the subway under Spencer Street itself

But inside the station itself, the subway was patched up so it could handle the growing number of users.

Spencer Street Station Redevelopment newsletter Interchange
Issue 5
May 2002

Spencer Street Station’s subway – the key artery for the station’s users – has just received a much needed facelift. The subway at Spencer Street Station, which was first opened in 1963, is the main connection to all rail platforms and will remain an important access point throughout the construction of the new station.

The Spencer Street Station Authority completed the refurbishment in March 2002, as an interim improvement before the station redevelopment. It brings the facilities up to modern standards and helps create a safer environment.

An average of 55,000 people use the station each weekday, the majority of which use the subway. It services metropolitan, country and interstate rail commuters. These numbers swell dramatically for sporting events at Colonial Stadium and other major events such as the Grand Prix, the Spring Racing Carnival and the Royal Melbourne Show.

The layout is now improved to provide for added commuter ease and security and to allow for potential greater patronage as the Docklands project develops. The central retail outlets have been relocated to the side of the subway to create greater capacity for passenger movement, and have been upgraded, giving them a new welcoming look.

New ceilings and additional lighting have been installed to create a more inviting atmosphere. Taking four months to complete, the subway works mainly took place out of peak hours to ensure a safe working environment for builders and minimal disruption to the travelling public.

The Spencer Street Station Authority still saw a need for the subway while the new station took shape around it, as well as once it was completed.

It is anticipated that construction work will begin in mid 2002 on the Spencer Street Redevelopment Project with construction proposed to be finished by mid 2005. During this period the existing pedestrian subway will be a vital, probably the only, means by which the travelling public will be able to safely gain access to and from the train platforms.

After the new station has been built, the subway will continue to have an important role for luggage transfer and other operational matters, and as a vital emergency evacuation route.

The Authority therefore made a decision to upgrade the subway, to achieve three things:

(a) to eliminate health problems by removal of asbestos and termite infestation;
(b) to open up the passageways by removing three shops from the centre aisle; and
(c) to provide better retail facilities for the public, bearing in mind that those on the two upper levels may have to be closed at certain stages during the redevelopment.

The original scope of works was expanded to meet these objectives, prior to being competitively tendered. The lowest tender of $737,938.85 (including GST) was accepted from Allmore Constructions, who had previously carried out the refurbishment of the main concourse. The Authority has since approved variations to this contract of approximately $50,000 to deal with more extensive termite damage in the subway than originally anticipated.

The improvements currently being carried out are fully funded by the Authority using revenue it generates from its retail activities and property leases, including public car parking and rentals paid by the train and bus operations.

And the end

Demolition of the old station began in 2003.

Spencer Street Station Authority photo

Temporary wiring being run through the subway.

Subway under the suburban platforms, looking east from platforms 11 and 12

And holes punched in the access ramps to allow the new roof to be built overhead.

Subway ramp from platform 13/14, altered for the roof supports

As late as 2005 shops inside the subway were still open to serve passengers.

Country section of the subway under the station looking east

But as the project progressed, they were progressively closed.

Country section of the subway, looking back west to the suburban section

In May 2005 the subway beneath Spencer Street was closed.

Spencer Street Station Authority media release
Friday 20 May, 2005


Spencer Street Station is continuing its transformation into a world class station, with the Spencer Street Station Authority today announcing external access to station platforms through its 80 year old subway will close from Saturday 28 May 2005.

The Authority’s Chief Executive, Tony Canavan, said that the subway closure would coincide with the partial opening of a new passenger facility on Collins Street with limited access to metropolitan platforms.

“Change is in the air at Spencer Street, with the spectacular roof taking shape and now the closure of subway access to the station to allow construction works to continue. “Many metropolitan passengers will have a small taste of the new look station with the partial opening of the Collins Street Concourse, which will eventually provide access to all metropolitan train services at the station.”

Mr Canavan urged Spencer Street Station users to be aware of the best entrance points to the station following the subway closure on 28 May 2005. The clear message for metropolitan rail users is that the Bourke Street Bridge is now the best entrance point while construction continues at the station.

Mr Canavan said the closure of subway access to the station means that station users will use pedestrian crossings at Collins Street and Bourke Streets to cross Spencer Street. “We are working closely with VicRoads and will monitor crossing times carefully once these changes take place to ensure a safe and smooth flow of people,” said Mr Canavan.

Mr Canavan thanked station users for their patience and understanding during the construction and in light of ongoing changes at the station in the months to come. “This really is a case of some inconvenience in the short term, in order to deliver improved services and facilities for the future,” he said. “The closure of external subway access to the station is essential to the redevelopment, and will eventually see the dark and ageing subway replaced with wide open entrances to improve safety and access.”

In the months that followed, access to country platforms 1 through 8 was changed to be via the new ground level concourse at the Collins Street end.

New departure information boards working

And access to suburban platforms 9 through 14 changed to the new elevated Collins Street concourse.

Platform 9/10 before demolition at Spencer Street

However the subway remained open for passenger interchange for a few more months.

Subway under the suburban platforms, looking west

The western end closed to the public.

Western end of the suburban subway closed to the public

As well as the section towards the country platforms.

Subway under the suburban platforms looking east, no access to the country platforms

My last visit was on 24 July 2005, with public access ending very soon after.

Today the subway remains in place, but for the use of staff only.

Travellers Aid buggy heads into the subway from platform 9 and 10

Footnote – where did the subway go?

The July 2001 ‘Spencer Street Station Redevelopment Planning Study’ details the extent of the subway network.

There are two main subway systems accessing station platforms.

The passenger access subway extends some 300m from entrances to the city side of Spencer Street to a single entrance at Wurundjeri way. The subway width varies from about 9m to 14m, and the floor is some 4m below the general track level of RL 8.0. It grades gradually from east to west. Ramps (at slope 1:12) provide passenger access to all platforms. Several 9.0m deep alcoves on the southern side of the subway, below the regional platforms, house various businesses and services. The access from Wurundjeri Way (Docklands) is currently used only for events at the Stadium.

A baggage handling tunnel runs the full length of platform 1, below the platform, and links the basement in the main building to an access ramp on the southern concourse and a cross track tunnel to the north. There are also access ramps to regional platforms. Levels are similar to the main pedestrian subway. An additional baggage tunnel branches off the main subway at Platform 8 and links to access ramps to suburban island platforms.

How many shops were down there?

The planning study also listed the tenants of the subway, and the total area they occupied.

Subway Ticket sales area – 340 sq.m.

13 vending machines – 13 sq.m.

Commonwealth Bank Autobank – 2 sq.m.

Subway newsagency – 16 sq.m.

Subway snacks – 205 sq.m.

Mrs M Ireland’s Florist – 16 sq.m.

Tattersalls – 16 sq.m.

Subway clothing shop – 72 sq.m.

Toilets – 30 sq.m.

Other retail spaces – 180 sq.m.

Circulation, ramps etc. – 5,510 sq.m.

Total – 6,400 sq.m.

And how many people used it?

The same study also included the result of a pedestrian count completed on 24 November 2000, showing the routes used to access the station – noting that the subway east under Spencer Street was closed at weekends.

Entrance/exit Pedestrians Percentage
Spencer Street subway 18,920 40%
Bourke Street intersection 9,744 21%
Ramp to Spencer Street south 9,104 19%
Coach Station 8,201 17%
Ramp to Spencer Street north 1,567 3%
Bourke Street pedestrian bridge 82 0%
Total 47,618 100%

And noted the lack of capacity for future growth.

A recent survey of use indicates that the passenger access subway under Spencer Street facilitates about 19,000 movements on a Friday (40% of total station movements) with 7,000 occurring in the peak hour. Daily movements in the main subway within the Station were recorded at 34,000.

With projected levels of growth it is only a matter of time before the capacity of the current subways is inadequate. Optional responses to this situation would include:
· enlarging the existing subway;
· constructing an additional subway; and
· providing another form of platform access, such as an elevated concourse.

Fast forward to 2016, and now the rebuilt station is already at capacity – some great forward planning there!

Hunting the remains of the Spencer Street Station subway

The pedestrian subway that once ran beneath Spencer Street Station only closed in 2005, yet in that time it has become shrouded in layers of mystery. So let’s sort fact from fiction, and see what’s left of it beneath today’s Southern Cross Station.

Travellers Aid buggy heads into the subway from platform 9 and 10

Finding the entrances

The first remnant of the Spencer Street Station subway is on Little Collins Street, outside the Savoy Hotel. Now boarded up, it once contained a stairwell down into the subway.

Former Spencer Street Station subway entrance on Little Collins Street, now all boarded up

A roller door on the Spencer Street side of the Savoy Hotel was another entry point, secured by a roller door.

Former Spencer Street Station subway entrance via the Savoy Hotel on Spencer Street

It remained in this state until May 2019, when the stairwell inside was covered over.

Former entrance to the Spencer Street subway from the Savoy Hotel, now boarded up

And the space converted into a shop.

Former entrance to the Spencer Street subway from the Savoy Hotel, now turned into a shop

Meanwhile on the other side of the street, the basement of the old Spencer Street Station building still exists, converted into staff offices.

Staff offices in the basement at Southern Cross Station

But the connection under Spencer Street was bricked up.

Looking across Spencer Street from the Southern Cross Station basement

And a second life

The subway might no longer continued under Spencer Street, but beneath the station it has been retained as a ‘back of house’ area.

The path it takes beneath the platforms still visible.

Former passenger subway beneath the Southern Cross suburban platforms

But the ramps from platform level have been fitted with doors to keep prying eyes out.

Ramp down to the former pedestrian subway at Southern Cross Station

Storage cages filling the subterranean space, along with water, power, data, gas and fire systems.

Storage cages in the former pedestrian subway beneath Southern Cross Station

And the western end turned over to a reclaimed water treatment facility.

Entry to the Southern Cross Station reclaimed water treatment facility

And new users

Passengers might be gone from the old subway, but rail staff still use it everyday.

Luggage hall staff use the subway to deliver parcels and baggage to trains.

Wilson Security staff drives an electric buggy loaded with parcels and baggage into the subway from platform 14

As do V/Line catering staff delivering food to buffet carriages.

Electric truck delivering catering supplies to the buffet in the BRN carriage

V/Line fitters on their way to fix trains.

Electric buggy heads down into the subway from platform 15

And Travellers Aid volunteers in their electric buggies.

Travellers Aid buggy heads into the subway from platform 13 and 14

Helping passengers unable to walk long distances around the station.

Travellers Aid buggy heads down into the subway

But the most famous users passed through on 27 August 2009.

How many political minders does it take to run a photo op?

Victorian Premier John Brumby, Public Transport Minister Lynne Kosky and Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese.

Pollies emerge from the subway

Who used the subway to reach the future site of platform 15 and 16, where they turned the first sod for the Regional Rail Link project.

Pile driver on the way down, very slowly

What about reopening it?

With Southern Cross Station at capacity in peak times and pedestrians spilling out onto Spencer Street, many people have called for the pedestrian subway to be reopened, including the City of Melbourne.

Pedestrian subway may re-open
CBD News
April 1, 2016

The City of Melbourne has pledged $750,000 to investigate the re-opening of a subway between Little Collins St and Southern Cross Station.

According to a council spokesperson, the tunnel formed part of the passenger subway through the former Spencer Street Station, before it was redeveloped as Southern Cross Station.

“Council has agreed to allocate funding in the current capital works budgets to investigate the feasibility of re-establishing a connection to an existing tunnel which runs under Spencer St and which could connect the station frontage to Little Collins St,” the spokesperson said.

According to the council spokesperson, the disused subway now supports a number of service and utility ducts for the station.

But these proposals came to nothing.

A council spokesperson said an investigation found that “significant” underground services had been installed in the tunnel along the west side of Spencer Street.

“These large pipes prevent access through the tunnel,” the spokesperson said.

With the only upgrades completed since being an extension of footpaths along Spencer Street.

Bonus content – a second subway to the north

At the northern end of country platforms 1 through 8 is another set of ramps, secured with automatic gates.

Gates at the entrance to the northern baggage subway at Southern Cross platform 3 and 4

And ‘DANGER KEEP OUT’ signs at bottom.

Ramp to the northern baggage subway at Southern Cross platform 3 and 4

This subway was once used for the transport of baggage to country trains, and is large enough for light trucks to pass through, such as the V/Line toilet pumping truck.

Toilet truck emerges from the northern baggage subway

And also has road access to the wider world via the coach terminal.

'Push button to activate green light' protects access along the single lane road to the northern vehicle subway

Footnote – more photos

Over on Reddit someone posted some photos showing the current state of the station subway.