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Flinders Street Station

From Academic Kids

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Flinders-Street-Station.jpg
Flinders Street Station's main entrance and dome.

Flinders Street Station (frequently just called Flinders Street; the context of use will indicate whether the station or the street is being specified) is the central railway station of the suburban rail network of Melbourne, Australia. It is located on the corner of Flinders and Swanston Streets next to the Yarra River in the heart of the city. The building stretches from Swanston Street to Queen Street, covering two city blocks. Each weekday, approximately 105,000 commuters and 1,500 trains pass through the station.

Melbourne's 16 radial electrified train lines all originate from the station. It is also a part of the partly-underground, five-station City Loop which encircles the central business district.

The Melburnian idiom "I'll meet you under the clocks" refers to the row of clocks above the station's main entrance which indicate the departure time of the next train on each line (though some of the clocks refer to discontinued lines). This is a popular meeting place, at the corner of two of the city's busiest thoroughfares. The original analogue clocks were replaced for a short time with digital ones, however, due to a public outcry, they were quickly returned. Similarly, plans in the 1970s to demolish the entire station and replace it with an office building were soon dismissed.

History

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Flinders Street Station and the intersection of Flinders and Swanston Streets, 1927.

The first railway building to occupy the Flinders Street site was simply called Melbourne or City Terminus, and was a collection of weatherboard train sheds. This first station was completed in 1854 and was officially opened on September 12 by the Lieutenant-Governor Sir Charles Hotham. The Terminus was the first railway station in Australia, and the opening day saw the first mechanical train trip in the country's history. It travelled to Sandridge (now Port Melbourne), over the Sandridge Bridge, which is about to be redeveloped in 2005 as public space for pedestrian and cycle access across the Yarra River.

Melbourne's two other early central-city stations, Spencer Street Station and Princes Bridge Station, opened in 1859. Princes Bridge was originally separated from Flinders Street, even though it was only on the opposite side of Swanston Street. Once the railway tracks were extended under the street to join the two, Princes Bridge slowly became amalgamated into Flinders Street. It is now the site of Federation Square.

In 1882 the decision was made by the government to build a new central passenger station to replace the existing ad-hoc construction. A world-wide design competition was held, with 17 entries received. The 500 pound first prize went to J. W. Fawcett and H. P. C. Ashworth, whose design included a giant dome and clock tower. Work on the current building began in 1901 and ended in 1910.

Interesting Facts

  • The main steps are embedded with electrical circuits to keep them dry, fitted in June 1985.
  • Platform No. 1 is the longest railway platform in Australia, and the 4th longest in the world, at 708 metres long.
  • The concourse building contains a ballroom (now no longer in use), and a creche existed inside the main dome when the station's offices were still in use. The creche included an open-air playground on an adjoining roof.
  • One of the original platform verandahs from the Melbourne Terminus building was dismantled and re-erected at Hawthorn station, in the inner-eastern suburbs.
  • It is rumoured that the original plans of Flinders Street Station were actually designed for the central station of Mumbai (then Bombay), India, but were mixed up in the London office and sent to Australia instead. This perhaps explains the unusual (for Australia) arches and alcoves that feature in the Banana Alley section of the station, which would have been intended for street market vendors. Of course, this means that the station built in Mumbai should have been built at Flinders Street!
City Loop
Anticlockwise: Parliament   ↔   Flinders Street   ↔   Clockwise: Spencer Street
Frankston, Pakenham, Sandringham, Cranbourne, Belgrave, Glen Waverley, Alamein, Lilydale lines
City Loop   →   Flinders Street   →   Richmond
Hurstbridge, Epping lines
City Loop   →   Flinders Street   →   Jolimont
Upfield, Werribee, Broadmeadows, Sydenham, Williamstown, Flemington Racecourse lines
Via City Loop
Entire network

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