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Station’s congestion headache

30 Jul 2019

Station’s congestion headache Image

By Meg Hill

Southern Cross Station’s congestion problems have continued to worsen as negotiations between the station’s private operator and the government have so far proved fruitless.

The station has likely already reached its capacity levels originally forecast for 2050. Its 2002 project brief predicted 30,000 passengers passing through per hour during peak period by then.

Docklands News understands it’s possible this figure was reached as long as two years ago.

The average weekday number of passengers passing through the station in May was 206,000 per day.

The contract between private operator Civic Nexus and the state government stipulates the capacity figure triggers upgrade negotiations between the parties. If the government refuses upgrades, Civic Nexus can lower its key performance indicators.

And without upgrades overcrowding will only get worse, with the future airport rail addition and the continued growth of Docklands which has so far been a major contributor to the station’s congestion.

The station’s design also contributes to congestion problems.

Civic Nexus proposed a $300 million station upgrade to the government in 2016 which was rejected earlier this year.

The Age recently reported that the company offered to pay for the upgrades in exchange for four extra years on its 30-year lease, which runs until 2036.

Southern Cross is the only city station with a private operator. The public and private sector partnership was pitched as providing efficiency and economic returns from government expenditure.

But Public Transport Users Association spokesperson Daniel Bowen said there were questions about the nature of the partnership.

“The question is: are the outcomes good for passengers?” he said.

“At the end of the day there are some failures with this particular contract. The capacity is not keeping up, the maintenance seems to be insignificant.”

Mr Bowen said another issue was the fact that night trains through the city loop bypassed Southern Cross station after 12.30am, making it difficult for passengers to access late V/Line trains and the all-night sky bus to the airport.

“There are questions over whether it is resulting in good outcomes.”

 

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