Southern Cross – the non-integrated interchange

As the hub of the V/Line network, Southern Cross Station is supposed to be an important interchange between suburban and regional trains. However Metro Trains Melbourne and V/Line don’t like to make it easy for passengers, as these recent changes on the Bourke Street Bridge show.

Bourke Street bridge rather empty

Historically platforms 9 through 14 have been dedicated to suburban passengers, with the exception of a handful of Geelong and Gippsland line services, so the suburban rail operator managed the ticket gates.

Bank of eight plus seven Myki gates at the western Bourke Street entrance at Southern Cross

Meanwhile platforms 1 through 8 are used by country trains where conductors check tickets, so access was a free for all. The ticket gates at the Bourke Street end are only a recent addition following the rollout of myki to V/Line services.

Work still pending on the new V/Line paid area fences on the Bourke Street bridge

In the days when V/Line didn’t have ticket gates, there was a glass wall between platforms 8 and 9 to prevent fare evaders from sneaking onto suburban trains.

Glass barrier between the suburban and country paid areas still in place at Southern Cross Station

With the addition of ticket gates to the V/Line side, one might assume that the wall could be removed, allowing V/Line passengers to change onto suburban services without having to touch off then on again, and vice versa. However the reality is very different.

Looking across from the V/Line paid area to the suburban paid area at the Bourke Street end

Yes – the glass wall was removed, only to be replaced by a massive set of steel gates.

Steel gates block access between the V/Line paid area and the suburban paid area at the Bourke Street end

Presumably Metro doesn’t trust V/Line to keep out fare evaders, and V/Line doesn’t trust Metro – any passengers wanting to change platforms has to exit the station, then come back in through the other set of gates.

Metro doesn't trust V/Line, and V/Line doesn't trust Metro - the two paid areas at the Bourke Street end of Southern Cross are separate


The gate between platforms 8 and 9 looks even more ridiculous when you take into consideration the V/Line services to Geelong and Gippsland – they use platforms 15 and 16 on a full time basis, both of which live within the suburban ticket gates!

How long until we see a gate between platforms 14 and 15?

Mid-December update

Down in the comment section Kevin let me know that the gates between platforms 8 and 9 are now open – I went past later that day and got a photo. Sanity prevails!

Gates between the V/Line and Metro platforms at the Bourke Street end of Southern Cross are now open

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9 Responses to “Southern Cross – the non-integrated interchange”

  1. wxtre says:

    The whole walkway between Spencer st and the Docklands is not integrated well, compared to the Collins Street end of Southern Cross station. The stairs leading from the Docklands precinct to the station are difficult to climb, they need escalators here.

    Also I particularly dislike this cladding they use as the bridge parapet.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      As originally built the Bourke Street Bridge only connected to Docklands Stadium, with a set of stairs linking it to street level near the remains of No. 2 Goods Shed. The other connections have been added by developers, such as the recently constructed bridge across Wurundjeri Way to the Channel 9 building.

      By comparison the Collins Street end is a ‘proper’ street, where you just walk down the hill, with access to the various buildings being directly from the footpath.

  2. Tom the first and best. says:

    Collins St also has trams. If there is a capacity issue on the Collins St trams and/or the Collins St entrance/exit to Southern Cross (comparatively with the Burke St), then Burke St West could get trams to spread the patronage.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      Collins Street does form the main spine headed west through Docklands – Bourke Street is rather dead because the south side is already accessible from Collins Street, and the north is just the stadium and water.

  3. Kevin says:

    The gates were open this afternoon. 4pm Thursday 11 December.
    One additional point, there are few if any information boards for passengers alighting from the metro system advising them which platform their vline train departs from. This would also prevent passengers from having to touch out and touch in again.
    As for moving from platform 14 to platform 1 without touching off/on, it is possible but quite a trek. Important to do so to avoid a peak fare when starting your journey before 4pm.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      Thanks for the update. I went past myself the same day to get a photo – I’ll update the post.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      As for V/Line peak / off-peak fares under Myki, they are a complete mess – when heading into the city if you can wait inside the gates until 9am you get the discount, and the same applies if you touch on before 4pm when headed home.

      The same rules also screw over any passenger wanting to catch a train departing Melbourne shortly after 6pm – either you pay the correct fare by hovering near the gates until the clock ticks over then bolt for the train, or get overcharged if you board early to find a seat!

  4. TC says:

    Hi Marcus, I just discovered your site -very useful. I will have to go from Balaclava (zone 1) station to Geelong and I can’t work out how to get the off-peak fare. The definition of peak and off-peak is not clear and I am also not sure what happens at Southern Cross. Do I ahve to touch on and off there to change platforms and what does that do to my fare ? It is just confusing all round. It may be a bit of trial and error to work out what off-peak really means. Anyway, thanks for your webpage.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      The V/Line site has the details here:

      If you’re travelling from Balaclava to Geelong in the morning, and the reverse in the evening, then the journey is always off peak.

      But if you are coming from Geelong in the morning, then you might be better off using the Bourke Street Bridge to change trains without touching off and on again, and instead wait until you get to Balaclava to touch off – if it is after 9am, then you get charged the off-peak fare no matter what train you actually caught.

      For the reverse trip to Geelong in the evening, you need to touch on before 4pm or after 6pm to avoid the peak fare – that would influence whether you touch off then on again at Southern Cross.

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