Connecting Melbourne Central and Flinders Street Station to Melbourne Metro

A few weeks ago the final station names for the Melbourne Metro project was announced – with ‘CBD North’ now ‘State Library’ and ‘CBD South’ now ‘Town Hall’. So how are these two new stations going to be tied into the existing rail network at Melbourne Central and Flinders Street Station?

Site clearance works continue at City Square

Flinders Street Station and Town Hall

The ‘Draft CBD South Precinct Development Plan‘ details the access to the new station:

The design has carefully considered the multiple passenger destinations by incorporating three separate entries into the CBD South Station. These are located at Federation Square, City Square and at the corner of Flinders Street and Swanston Street.

  • At City Square, there are five interchangeable escalators that descend several levels before reaching the ticketed barriers and train platform. Each level leading up to the ticketed barrier will provide for unpaid plaza and concourse areas. Lifts are located adjacent the escalators providing additional access to the platforms.
  • The entrance on the corner of Swanston Street and Flinders Lane (i.e. proposed over-site development area) has four interchangeable escalators which also provide unpaid areas before descending to the paid ticketed barrier on the second level. Again, lifts will be providing access to platforms and easy access for the mobility impaired users. Provision for over-site development and retail spaces will be provided as part of the Day 1 look of the precinct.
  • Federation Square entrance leads straight to the ticketed barriers, down escalators and along a gradually declining walkway which connects in with the other stations underneath Flinders Street.

As well as the link to Flinders Street Station:

An underground connection through the paid concourse will be provided between CBD South and Flinders Street Station, via the existing Degraves Street underpass. This will provide an effortless connection between various train lines, providing access to additional destinations throughout Melbourne City.

‘B1 – Landing Level Plan’ found in ‘Appendix B: Architectural Plans‘ shows the connection in greater detail.

Located at the same level as the existing Degraves Street subway, the new underground passageway will be carved out beneath Flinders Street itself, connecting into the new Town Hall station box, located at the site of the Port Phillip Arcade.

These modifications hit the news in December 2017, when it was revealed that the eastern sections of the heritage listed arcade would need to be demolished.

Eastern exit from the Degraves Street subway up towards Flinders Street

With the Heritage Impact Statement for Flinders Street Station dated 2021 showing the shops to be lost.

Also of note is the proposed modifications to the subway beneath the platforms at Flinders Street Station – the eastern set of stairs to each platform are intended to be replaced by lifts, in order to provide a DDA compliant access route between the two levels.

Missing tiles: Centre Subway to platform 2/3

Melbourne Central and State Library

The ‘Draft CBD North Precinct Development Plan‘ details access to the new station:

CBD North Station will be located directly below Swanston Street providing direct transport interchange with the existing tram network and City Loop. Passengers can enter and exit the station via the main entry on La Trobe and Swanston Streets, at the corner of Franklin and Swanston Street or via Melbourne Central Station concourse.

Diagram ‘B2 – Melbourne Central Concourse & Service Level Plan’ found in ”Appendix B: Architectural Plans‘ shows how this connection will be made – by bashing a hole into the existing concourse.

Right about where this advertising screen is currently located, next door to McDonalds.

JCDecaux advertising screen installed on the Swanston Street concourse at Melbourne Central

Diagram ‘North – South long section – A’beckett Street & Little Latrobe Street shafts’ shows where the escalators will run down to the platforms at State Library.

Pretty simple and uncontroversial, compared to the changes at Flinders Street Station!

What about the names

There was been a lot of debate about naming the new stations – not just the names themselves, but whether ‘CBD North’ and ‘CBD South’ stations should have their own identity, or piggy back off their neighbouring stations – Melbourne Central and Flinders Streets.

There are pros and cons on both sides:

  • separate names means passengers won’t enter one station, only to discover that they have a long walk via the interchange passageway to reach the platform they need,
  • but separate names might also lead to passengers needlessly changing trains at Caulfield and Footscray stations, just so they are on a train to the ‘right’ station in the CBD.

So how do other rail systems name their interchanges?

On the Hong Kong MTR interchange stations usually have the same name, with the exception of two station complexes that have double barrelled names – one being an interchange that requires exiting the paid area then re-entering, the other requiring a long walk via an underground passageway.

Meanwhile on metro systems of the the former Soviet Union, the opposite is the rule – the platforms for each line at an interchange station are usually given their own name.

Over in London they mix and match naming practices at interchange stations – Bank and Monument is has double barrelled name, while ‘Paddington’ is applied to two independent London Underground stations plus the mainline station.

Meanwhile the Paris Metro favours double named stations – a practice born when independently stations on separate lines became associated as interchange stations.

The New York Subway takes confusion to another level – passengers change between different lines at ‘station complexes‘ with double barrelled names, but have to pay attention to identically named stations that are located nowhere near each other!

But the Chicago ‘L’ really takes the cake – with five stations called ‘Western’!

So what to make of naming interchanges?

My take on the situation: if the platforms at an interchange are close enough together that choosing an entrance doesn’t matter – give it the station a single name. Almost every existing Melbourne station you can get to every platform from any entrance – suburban ‘side’ platform stations and the brand new river entrance to Flinders Street platform 10 being exceptions that come to mind.

If it looks like two stations tied together via an interchange passageway – give the two halves different names, and make sure your network maps point out that the two are linked.

At the expanded Melbourne Central and Flinders Street Station some entrances will allow you to access the ‘new’ and ‘old’ platforms directly, but at the rest of them you’ll need to head needlessly go up and down escalators and concourses to get to the ‘other’ half – hence a different name makes sense.


The Metro Tunnel draft development plans have the full detail – they’re currently up for public display on the Metro Tunnel website.

Daniel Bowen also weighs in on the station name debate in his post The metro tunnel stations will be called….

Footnote: an abandoned plan

The original plan to link CBD South with Flinders Street Station was via a bank of escalators on the Swanson Street concourse.

Figure 5-10 in the 2011 Melbourne Metro business case

Figure 5-10 Concept for CBD South Station Interchange with Flinders Street Station

Further detail of the interchange passageway was found in the 2012 Flinders Street Station Design Competition Design Brief document. From the side:

CBD South station, profile view of linkage to Flinders Street Station

And from the top:

CBD South station, plan view of linkage to Flinders Street Station

These plans were abandoned for the simpler link via the Degraves Street subway.

And an update for 2021

To create a paid area connection to Flinders Street Station, the 2017 ‘Draft CBD South Precinct Development Plan’ featured the total destruction of every shop along the eastern side of Campbell Arcade, and the capture of the remaining shops inside the paid area.

However this design was revised following consultation with Heritage Victoria and the City of Melbourne, avoiding the demolition of the remaining intact 1950s shopfronts.

The design also relocated the new lift shafts to the Degraves Street subway from the western stairs, to the eastern, and resigned the structure to reduced the impact on heritage building fabric.

I’ve since updated this post to reflect this updated design.

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4 Responses to “Connecting Melbourne Central and Flinders Street Station to Melbourne Metro”

  1. Tom the first and best says:

    The Flinders St link is a hard link to make well. On one hand, the St Kilda Rd concourse has a higher capacity for accessing the platforms, already has lifts, is closer to Town Hall and does not involve demolishing half the shop in the Campbell Arcade/Degraves St subway.

    On the other hand, the St Kilda Rd concourse is much busier already, is an elevated concourse (requiring passengers to go up and then down again), would restrict the capacity of the Degraves St subway connections to platforms and would require more extensive works to the heritage Flinders St Station building.

    Federation Square prevents increased capacity at the St Kilda Rd end of the station by preventing the construction of a concourse on the Federation Square side of St Kilda Rd, which would divert a proportion of the St Kilda Rd concourse passengers away from the existing concourse (mainly passengers to/from east of Swanston St and the southbound St Kilda Rd trams.)

    • Marcus Wong says:

      I think you’ve got both reasons for the abandonment of the Swanston Street concourse link to Flinders Street there – the “go up and then down again” difficulty for passengers, as well the extensive modifications to the stations.

  2. […] Street it was hoped a more practical connection might be made, but Marcus Wong has covered the progress away from a direct connection. That goes to an even more convoluted passage over several folded levels with no direct access from […]

  3. […] A decade later the tiles have finally been fixed, part of the $100 million Flinders Street Station upgrade project, but for the Campbell Arcade the future is not as rosy – half the shops are due to be bulldozed by the Metro Tunnel project to provided a connection to the new Town Hall station. […]

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