Don’t get comfortable – the Southern Cross Station waiting room

Despite being an architect’s wet dream, Southern Cross Station isn’t exactly a nice place to wait for a train – diesel exhaust fills the air, and a cacophony of idling engines assault your ears. But there is an escape – there is an enclosed waiting room. But one problem it’s just become less and less comfortable as the years

Morning sun at Southern Cross Station

Finding it

Don’t go looking on the platforms, filled with exhaust smoke.

Diesel fumes fill the air above Southern Cross platform 2

There are bench seats along the Spencer Street concourse, but they aren’t it.

'Network' - a new bar and pizza restaurant on the Spencer Street frontage

Despite the view out to the street.

Coin operated lockers on the Spencer Street concourse at Southern Cross Station

You’ve got to head to the Collins Street end of the station, on the ground floor, opposite the V/Line ticket gates to platforms 1 through 8.

Bank of eight plus four Myki gates for the country platforms at Southern Cross Station

And there is is – a waiting room, filled with cold metal bench seats.

Cold steel benches in the Southern Cross Station waiting room

But don’t get too comfortable

Once upon a time, the waiting room at Southern Cross Station wasn’t completely horrible – it had long padded bench seats, which for some reason faced the back wall.

Photo via Foursquare

But around 2019 station managed turned the seats to face sideways, removing any blind spots.

Seats at the Southern Cross Station waiting room turned to face the door

And erected a massive ‘There is NO LAYING DOWN in the waiting room’ sign.

'No laying down' is the main rule for the Southern Cross Station waiting room

Along with a long list of rules and conditions for anyone using the ‘passenger lounge’.

Rules and conditions for the Southern Cross Station waiting room

The sign reading:

The Southern Cross Station passenger lounges are for legitimate passengers and friends or family of passengers that may be waiting with them. Use of the lounges and waiting areas is conditional on the following rules and conditions:

• You may be required to produce proof of intent to travel if requested to do so by Security
• No lying down on the floor, or lying across the seats is permitted
• Sitting on the floor is not permitted
• Sleeping in the passenger lounge is not permitted
• Massage chairs are for paying customer use only
• Passengers within the passenger lounge must behave in the civilised manner at all times
• Electrical outlets are for station/maintenance use only and must not be used by passengers

The passenger lounge is monitored by CCTV and patrolled regularly by Security, Protective Service Officers (PSO’s) and the Victoria Police. Failure to comply with the above conditions, may result in you being asked to leave the passenger lounge and/or station and removed if you do not comply with a request to leave.

But all those rules weren’t hostile enough to passengers, so station management took the nuclear option – removing the padded seats, and replacing them with cold steel benches.

Cold steel benches in the Southern Cross Station waiting room

Complete with armrests to prevent anyone from laying down on them.

Cold steel benches with anti-sleeping armrests in the Southern Cross Station waiting room


Footnote: the other waiting room

Southern Cross has a second waiting room at the coach terminal end of the station, hiding in the alleyway beneath the Bourke Street Bridge.

Alleyway beneath the Bourke Street Bridge, with CountryLink and V/Line ticket offices, luggage hall, and travellers aid

Beside the CountryLink and V/Line ticket offices, luggage hall, and travellers aid office.

Dingy waiting room at the Bourke Street end of Southern Cross Station

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9 Responses to “Don’t get comfortable – the Southern Cross Station waiting room”

  1. Malcolm M says:

    Can you do one on the waiting room at Sunshine? As part of Airport Rail a new concourse will be built on the eastern end of the station complete with escalators but there in no mention of a new waiting room. Regional passengers will need to wait here up to 40 minutes away from the cold and rain. I believe there is one in the existing concourse opposite the ticket counter where it has the greatest scrutiny. Ideally we would want a waiting room with retail and slot machines plus enough seats for the expected number of transferring passengers.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      I hadn’t thought about the waiting room at Sunshine, despite being there regularly – the current waiting room is opposite the ticket gates to platforms 1 through 3, which is a long way from the V/Line departure platform.

      Small waiting room on the overhead concourse at Sunshine

  2. Al says:

    There’s a third waiting room at Southern Cross, up around Bay 67 in the coach terminal. It usually only ever sees occupants during rail replacement and is remarkably even less welcoming than the other two rooms. It does get a street ‘view’ though, despite being slightly below street level!

  3. Paul Westcott says:

    The waiting room at the station has always been a disgrace, no mater what configuration it has had. Just another example of the station not being designed for its principal users.

    And as for the use of “laying” rather than “lying” – chooks lay, people lie.

  4. Jordan says:

    Because the waiting room is so poor as Southern Cross station, your better off sitting in a waiting V/Line train. If you had to wait for a couple of hours you would just have to bunny hop from one train to another (some trains depending on the service will sit at the platform for almost an hour (if not more) before departing. At least if you sit in one you get comfy seats, some form of privacy and your not huddled together with other passengers like at a hospitals emergency department. Also if things such as lying down became such a problem why not fix the issue instead of giving everyone steel grates to sit on?

  5. Ant says:

    The air quality in Southern Cross is criminally negligent. Oh the irony.

    … The State that demonises gas heating and power in order to take control of future power generation via Super Funds and State control; but they refuses to upgrade a station that is a diesel fume chamber designed – it seems – to specifically poison the people waiting for trains by virtue of roof contours and zero ventilation …

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