Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Flinders Street: Melbourne's grand old station

Flinders Street Station is one of Melbourne's most iconic landmarks, and the saying "meet me under the clocks" traces its origins to the steps beneath the entrance to the famous station. The row of clocks are actually older than the railway station itself, and were originally ordered from England for the original station that was demolished in 1904 to make way for the 1909 railway station that still occupies the corner of Swanston and Flinders Streets in the heart of Melbourne.

Melbourne's French Renaissance style Flinders Street Station, photo 2015. 

Although the clocks remain the most photographed aspect of the building, the French Renaissance styled railway station as a whole takes up two large blocks in the city between Swanston and Queen Streets. In the 1920's, this was the world's busiest passenger train station, and not surprisingly it is still Melbourne's busiest train station today.

The Chicago-style elevated railway viaduct linking Flinders Street and Southern Cross Station, 2015.

The station stands alongside the banks of Melbourne's Yarra River and in 1854 was chosen as the location of Australia's first public railway. The original line ran from Station Pier in Port Melbourne, then known as Sandridge, and carried passengers and freight to a wooden platform that once stood beside a fish market. At the southern end of the station, a Chicago-style elevated viaduct carries six tracks across busy streets to Melbourne's Southern Cross Station. Southern Cross Station is the dead opposite of Flinders Street, and its modern steel and glass canopy is home to Victoria's country train network, whereas Flinders Street remains Melbourne's grand old station.

Platform 2 at Flinders Street Station on a cold winter's evening, July 2015.

Flinders Street's platforms today extend beneath Swanston Street and Federation Square at roughly the same place where the 1859 Princes Bridge Station once stood. When Flinders Street Station was rebuilt in 1909, the tracks were extended beneath Swanston Street to connect what had previously been two separate stations, and Princes Bridge's platforms were somewhat absorbed into the new track arrangement.

Melbourne's Southbank skyline stands opposite Flinders Street Station on the Yarra River, 2015.

All of Melbourne's Metro Trains services pass through Flinders Street and Southern Cross stations on their way to traversing Melbourne's underground City Loop Line. While spending 3 days travelling around Melbourne by train to write my new book Train Tripping Around Melbourne, I passed through Flinders Street's turnstiles many times. They say that every great journey has to start somewhere, and I can think of no grander place to catch a train than from Melbourne's Flinders Street Station. But don't just take my word for it, download my window seat guide to exploring Melbourne by train and decide for yourself.

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