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Editions

The “mini city” under Southern Cross

28 Jan 2020

The “mini city” under Southern Cross Image

By Meg Hill

There’s a network of tunnels kilometres long under Southern Cross Station that were built back in the 1800s.

Subways connected Little Collins St to the platforms of the old station, housed an old food court, and even a shooting range.

It was back when conductors carried guns to protect large sums of cash transported on the trains.

But today, the subways under Spencer St are filled in.

Under the station, however, the tunnels are still buzzing. Docklands News was taken on a tour by station management.

“It really is like a mini city under here,” a management staff member said. “It’s basically our back of house. We have over 800 operational staff at the station, and most use the tunnels as part of their work.”

“It’s how we keep 75 million people a year and 300,000 a day moving.”

Buggies drive around the tunnels transporting goods and rubbish. There are office spaces for different teams of staff.

There’s even an entire commercial kitchen supplying V/Line trains.

There are two sets of tunnels – the northern and the southern. Both were originally built in the 1800s, and some sections have been repurposed through the station’s expansions.

Some still have the original tiles and wall. One section of fenced away wall still holds an old timetable with disused train lines listed.

When Southern Cross Station was built to replace Spencer Street Station the station remained in use the whole time – meaning the tunnels were central to the development.

The tunnels were sealed off from the public and used to build the new station. Now they house much of the station’s day-to-day operations and equipment.

Much of it is also too dangerous to reopen. But every day, hundreds of staff use the tunnels to keep the station running.

Youth groups have even been brought to spend the day around the tunnels on vocational programs.

“It’s about showing how many jobs there are here. It’s not just standing at a gate, there’s hundreds of jobs keeping this place running.”

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