Photos from ten years ago: October 2011

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

A land before COVID

Remember peak hour crowds at CBD railway stations? I wrote about it a decade ago, and ended up in The Age.

Morning peak at Flagstaff: I'm sure if you stood here from 0845 until 0900 you'd see queues like this rise and fall multiple times

In the years since much faster ticket readers by Vix have been deployed at busy stations, but for the past 18 months they’ve been barely used – COVID has cratered patronage.

How about the days when the AFL Grand Final was held in Melbourne? Back in 2011 Collingwood and Geelong were playing, with V/Line running extra trains from Geelong to transports Cats fans to the big game.

P12 leads an 8-car push-pull grand final football special from Geelong at Spotswood

V/Line retired their fleet of P class locomotives in 2017, selling them to freight operator Southern Shorthaul Railroad in 2019, and thanks to COVID both the 2020 and 2021 AFL Grand Finals were held interstate.

October also used to be when the Royal Melbourne Show was held, with trains to Showgrounds station to transporting the crowds.

Siemens trains arrives into Showgrounds station

The show has been cancelled for two consecutive years thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the site turned over to a COVID-19 testing site and vaccination hub.

Changes on the railways

Ginifer used to be a station located at ground level.

Siemens arriving into Ginifer on the up

Flowers placed beside the pedestrian crossing, following yet another person being struck and killed by a train.

Flowers near Ginifer station after the latest fatality, the pedestrian crossing is at the down end of the platforms

And I found more flowers beside a second pedestrian crossing closer to St Albans.

Willis Street pedestrian crossing at the down end of Ginifer, and more flowers

After years of lobbying by local residents, in 2015 level crossings grade separated and new stations were built at Ginifer and St Albans, but there was one omission – the pedestrian crossing between them was left behind.

And finally down in the shadows of Docklands, I found freight wagons being shunted ready for another trip down the Frankston line.

Shunting steel wagons of an afternoon, G531 at the Melbourne Steel Terminal

The entire freight yard was relocated in 2015 to make way for the E-Gate urban renewal project, but the land has since been co-opted by the West Gate ‘Tunnel’ Project, to be covered by a tangle of freeway ramps.

Build it up

At 199 William Street the long abandoned skyscraper was seeing some activity.

Work on the display suite for "The William" development

Redeveloped as ‘The William‘ the lower floors are the Wyndham Hotel Melbourne, with apartments above.

Out at Melbourne Airport, work was well underway on a new air traffic control tower.

New and old control towers at Melbourne Airport

The 75 metre tall tower was built at a cost of $19 million, and took over from the 1970s facility next door in 2014.

Outside of Geelong, work on the $78 million final stage of the Geelong Ring Road was almost complete, with a 4.6 kilometre extension from Anglesea Road at Waurn Ponds to Pettavel Road.

New alignment for the Princess Highway at Waurn Ponds

It opened to motorists in 2013, and was followed in 2016 by the $164 million Princes Highway West duplication 25 kilometres from Waurn Ponds to Winchelsea.

A nice change from endless road projects was a brand new rail freight terminal at Spotswood.

Railway loading side of the Sadleirs Logistics warehouse

Operated by Sadleirs Logistics, the terminal sees freight trains daily.

Changes were afoot on the railway towards Sunbury – electrification works were underway

P14 leads a push-pull set out of Sydenham bound for Sunbury

The $270 million project extended suburban train services from Watergardens to Diggers Rest and Sunbury stations, allowing the retirement of the dedicated V/Line services to Sunbury from November 2012.

And the first extension of the suburban rail network in decades – 3.5 kilometres from Epping to South Morang.

Overhead stanchions in place at Pindari Avenue

When I visited the civil works were mostly complete, with ballast being dropped along the freshly laid track.

Looking up the line to the ballast train at South Morang, stabled atop the crossovers for the station

The extended line opened to passengers in April 2012, and cleared the way for a further extension of the railway – 8 kilometres north to Mernda, completed in August 2018.

And tear it down

Between Lonsdale and Little Bourke Street in the CBD there was a massive hole.

Overview of the Myer Melbourne demolition site

That was once occupied by Myer Melbourne.

Digging around at the Little Bourke Street end

The site was being cleared for the Emporium Melbourne shopping centre, completed in 2014, and which sits behind the facades of the former Myer store.

Over at the former RAAF Williams airfield in Laverton, I found a runway that wasn’t in very good shape.

End of runway 17 at the former RAAF Williams air force base

Last used in 1998, the site is now the suburb of Williams Landing.

On Buckley Street in Footscray I found a row of abandoned houses, with windows boarded up.

148 Buckley Street finally vacated

Compulsorily acquired for the Regional Rail Link project, the remaining sliver of land is now occupied by townhouses.

While beside the West Gate Freeway another abandoned building was being demolished – the former West Gate Bridge toll plaza.

Strongroom door stands amid the rubble

Made redundant in 1985 following removal of tolls on the bridge, VicRoads retained the site as a conference centre before selling it to a developer in 2010. The site is now the Expressway Business Park.

Things that are gone

Remember yellow ‘Bumblebee’ trams?

C2.5106 'Bumblebee 4' westbound on route 96 at Bourke Street and Hardware Lane

By 2014 the bee themed decals were looking rather tatty, so the trams were repainted into the standard Public Transport Victoria livery.

How about the mX newspaper?

"Looking for a girl with Myki trouble" - you need to be a bit more specific!

Handed out free to homeward bound commuters at CBD railway stations, readership declined thanks to the rise of smartphones, with the final edition published on 12 June 2015.

And the food court at Southern Cross?

Mostly abandoned food court at Southern Cross: only two Asian food stalls remain

It was located on the mezzanine floor at the Collins Street end, and overlooked the country platforms.

Tables along the food court at the Collins Street end

The food court closed in November 2011 to make way for a redevelopment of the food and retail outlets at the station, with a Woolworths Metro supermarket now occupying the site.

And things that are the same

Marketing stalls blocking the main entrance to Melbourne Central Station? Still there!

Time to dodge the marketing stalls blocking the main entrance to Melbourne Central Station!

Waiting 20 minutes for a train on the Craigieburn line after 6pm? Still there!

Waiting 20 minutes for a train on the Craigieburn line after 6pm? You'd think this was a joke...

‘Smartbuses’ stuck in traffic in the Melbourne CBD? Still there!

So-called 'Smartbuses' stuck in traffic at Lonsdale and William Street

And something foreboding?

Outside Melbourne Central Station I found a line of people dressed in Tyvek coveralls.

More promotional crap getting in the way at Melbourne Central Station

But they weren’t testing patients at a COVID exposure site – but handing out marketing junk for the 2011 film ‘Contagion’.


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

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