Thursday, February 22, 2024

The dreadful So Cross Station

I didn't know but I was at Southern Cross Station on the last day of operation for the H Class train carriages. I still think of the station as Spencer Street and I expect one day a government will receive praise for returning the original name. 

H Class carriages are hauled by a locomotive, mostly between So Cross and Seymour but at times to Geelong. They were built at suburban passenger carriages in the 1950s. In the 60s with my early train experience, the blue Harris trains were luxury suburban travel compared to older red rattlers. They were so smooth and so quiet, so quiet because they were packed with asbestos. In the eighties it was decided that asbestos filled train carriages weren't a good idea and most of them were buried at a rubbish dump pit. 

A few were kept, the asbestos stripped out, air conditioning added, and renovated to a standard suitable to travel on the regional rail network. They were quite a comfortable train for regional passengers in spite of their age. 

I am quite chuffed that I accidently took a photo of the H Class carriages on their last day of service. I had noticed a couple of lads taking photos of the train, so now I know why.

The reason for taking the photo was to demonstrate the purple colour used for VLine regional services. Blue is used for suburban train services, green for trams, orange for buses. So why does this destination board use an orange/red as a headline colour for VLine services. It should be purple. I do like that it uses 'Country Departures', rather than Regional Departures. 


So, I was travelling to Sunbury using a Bendigo train. I was outside at the upper level of the station and I had six minutes to get to the train. Simple, enter the station, check the platform number and drop down using the escalator to the platform. Ah, platform 8B. That's a bit of walk. In fact it was a walk from Collins Street to I estimate Lonsdale Street being only a short three carriage train. A lad ran past me to catch the train. I can't run. I purposefully strode along the platform and the train conductor held the train for me. The door closed behind me and we were off. There wasn't a single seat of two available so I sat next to someone. Without a window seat, it wasn't a pleasant trip. It was the same on the return journey, a short three carriage train with all window seats occupied. 

My issue is that I would have left the 58 tram at a different stop and that would have meant much less walking to Platform 8B. I checked the PTV app, the VLine app and I could not find out which platform the train was leaving from in advance. 

This person did not enjoy her Southern Cross Station experience. She is right about some things. It is hard for someone who knows how things work to understand what it is like for a stranger. It is hard for someone like me who thinks they know how things work and doesn't. Transport for London seems to understand this and uses strangers to test wayfinding for its services. 


So Cross Station is not an easy station to use. It is modern grim, full of closed retail outlets, full of commercial advertising, very busy, full of diesel fumes from idling trains, bound to leave an asthmatic gasping for air. Worst of all, very confusing.

Maybe our State Government should take back control of the station from the private company.  

35 comments:

  1. Hope they get their issues ironed out, if that's possible.
    Sandra sandracox.blogspot.com

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  2. It sounds pretty passenger unfriendly. Do they actually get many passengers ?

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    1. It certainly does JayCee. It is our second busiest station, with 16 platforms, all regional trains leave from the station and most suburban lines pass through.

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  3. Privatisation invariably goes wrong in the end. Here they shut the door in your face and then wait ages for the green signal with the doors locked.

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    1. I've experienced that Tasker. It is rather annoying.

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  4. (As you obviously know) Some of our suburban lines go through to the loop so if we are wanting to be at that end of the city we’ll get off our Lilydale line train there. That trudge up the escalator across the top and down the other end into Spencer Street does me in before I’ve even got to where we’re going.
    Standing on the upper level looking down on the tracks watching travellers and trains coming and going does have a certain charm though - and yes, cough cough cough at times! It’s the roof you know!!

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    1. It is a trudge Cathy. up and down and then long platform walks. You need plenty of time. It is rather cool to look down on the platforms, as you inhale diesel fumes. Spencer Street Station used to be good at ventilating steam trains burning coal.

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  5. Keeping on selling public properties is the specialty of any government. They can't do, so they sell.

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    1. Roentare, if they put the right management team into government run services, it can be good. But that seldom happens.

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  6. "Modern grim" I like that wording, if not necessarily the image it conjures up.

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    1. Kirk, there is nothing attractive about the station. If it was a pleasant place to be you could overlook some faults.

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  7. Privatisation is a scourge and curse but i guess someone is making money on it and soon enough some of that money will trickle down to the users. or not.

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    1. I'm going with the "or not" option, though I'd dare to say definitely not.

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    2. Kylie, lol, trickle down effect. Giving the workers a few crumbs.

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  8. Public services should never ever be sold to private, profit-making interests !!

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    1. I totally agree Hels, but you know that already.

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  9. I have never seen privatisation work. It always ends up being about profits. All other considerations fall to the wayside.

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    1. Debby, I ran various institutions through my head and as you would expect, I totally agree with you.

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  10. In my opinion State Governments should take back control of everything they sold off to privatisation in their rush to get quick cash for their coffers.
    I haven't a clue about different carriage styles. H or XYZ, makes no difference to me as long as it runs and gets me where I'm going.

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    1. River, as your state government has with its train system. That was the promise but I am not sure it has happened.

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  11. I like that colour purple, looks nice from my point of view.
    Shame about the ride - if the government were to buy all back would it be that much improved I wonder Andrew!

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    1. Margaret, the government does still own it but on a thirty year lease, it is operated by some investment company.

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  12. It's an exercise in cutting down passenger numbers . . .

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    1. JB, I am cynical enough but I don't really think that is the case. Over the last few years, services through the station have improve to cater for the increasing passenger numbers.

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  13. I think Britain is more foreign owned than by British people. Train services around the world seem to have some sort of function disorder. Listen to my daughter about the overfull trains she has to ride on from Manchester. There are not enough drivers for a start, meaning trains are taken off without warning, and then of course, strikes are commonplace.

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    1. Thelma, that's interest about your daughter's experience. We only caught a tram in Manchester and it was fine. I think the station I mentioned is operated by overseas investment firms, possibly Canadian superannuation firms. May I ask where your daughter travels to? I'd like to know who runs the service.

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  14. We are a train using non car family with frequent trips to London with two grandchildren there. So trains being there and on time is important. It is a Northern line to our town Todmorden. I think for London you have to catch the train from Leeds. Just to add, I am a complete ignoramus about trains and how to buy a ticket online, ticket offices having been closing down very quickly round here.

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    1. Thanks Thelma. The line was run by Arriva and now is back in Government hands. There is a bit of theme happening in the UK with this.

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  15. Amtrak is rebuilding several major stations along the east coast, in DC they are undoing a long term lease to a private developer that raised the rent, drove half of the businesses out, then did nothing to improve the station. (It is going to end up costing a fortune to buy the developer out of the lease.)

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    1. TP, long leases to private operators is a terrible mistake, leaving governments to pick up the very expensive pieces when it all goes terribly wrong. Amtrak and I think another operator really seem to be focusing on east coast services.

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  16. When publics services are profit oriented Andrew, absolutely nothing is for the benefit of the customer but only for the shareholders.
    XO
    WWW

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    1. WWW, your unassailable logic seems to be conveniently missed by those in control. There are reasons.

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  17. Privatization of public services never works out well. The objective becomes profit rather than people.

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    1. Pure economics, isn't it Steve. Profit is the goal.

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