Southern Cross Station is a large, multi-modal transport hub redeveloped between 2002 and 2006 that is located in Melbourne, Australia. The station operates as a public-private partnership (PPP) concession from Public Transport Victoria (PTV) on behalf of the State of Victoria. The stewardship challenge for the station’s operator, Civic Nexus, is to maintain the functionality, efficiency and ‘relevance’ of the facility in an environment of continually increasing patronage due to changes to population demographics and evolving changes to the Melbourne/Docklands city-scape.
Southern Cross Station features separate train and a bus Interchange facilities and is the central point for interstate, regional and suburban trains and coaches in Melbourne, as well as connections to Tullamarine and Avalon airports. It is the State of Victoria’s busiest and most critical public transport interchange.
Civic Nexus, 100 percent owned by IFM Investors (IFM), was awarded the contract to design, construct, finance, lease, operate and maintain the facility, which is currently in year 13 of 30 operating years. Southern Cross Station Pty Ltd (SCSPL) is the operational arm of Civic Nexus and manages the facility under a management agreement.
Civic Nexus’s approach to Active Asset Management, a term that it describes as the combination of strategic planning and forward vision with the operational hands-on management of the facility, is ensuring Southern Cross Station can adapt to a rapidly changing environment.
The station was originally designed with a projected peak capacity of 30,000 users an hour, which is expected to be reached in 2050. Civic Nexus estimates that number was surpassed in 2016, with the station currently servicing 1.4 million patrons a week with an annual patronage of over 75 million, double what the patronage was expected to be. With the growth of Melbourne and development of Fishermans Bend, Australia’s largest urban renewal project covering approximately 480 hectares close to the Melbourne CBD, Southern Cross Station is likely to experience continued growth over the coming decade.
The challenge for Civic Nexus is to maintain the functionality, efficiency and ‘relevance’ of the facility in an environment of continually increasing patronage due to changes to population demographics, evolving changes to the Melbourne/ Docklands city-scape and major initiatives across the public transport network.
To prepare for future projected changes and continue to service their customers’ and stakeholders expectations, Southern Cross Management team have undertaken high level strategic planning and dialogue with relevant stakeholders, (including the State Government and Public Transport Victoria). With continued increased patronage and the further impacts of various rail infrastructure projects in Victoria (including the Regional Rail Revival Project, the Melbourne Metro project and the proposed Airport Rail Link), Southern Cross Station has considered how the infrastructure and services delivered may adapt to maintain and improve the customer experience.
Adapting involves consideration of customer movements and travel paths, the connectivity of the various rail and station services, accessibility for special needs and movement impaired persons and maximising the social and economic value of the facility.
Southern Cross Station has taken the initiative to undertake strategic planning to increase the long- term capacity, amenity and function of the station precinct, whilst addressing the impacts of future increased patronage and is in discussion with the State and relevant stakeholders.
Key relationships are maintained across all of government, (local and federal), council, Police and emergency authorities as well as transport operators and adjacent stakeholders to ensure that the Southern Cross Station influence extends beyond its boundaries.
Risk, resilience and community safety
A core task for management is to provide a safe and non-disruptive journey for customers who access Southern Cross Station every day. Southern Cross Station Management work alongside Victoria Police and Emergency Management Victoria to ensure that Southern Cross Station contributes to the safety of all Melbournians with a pro-active, co-operative and consultative approach.
The efficiency of the facility also has a ‘social value’ for many customers; such as a parent getting home in time to have dinner with the children or a special needs or movement impaired person being able to utilise support services at the station to assist them to access a train, tram, bus or taxi service. Notable initiatives include:
Guide Dogs Victoria Beacon Project: In conjunction with a Guide Dogs Victoria and PTV initiative,
the project is a trial installation of small beacon technology devices in key strategic areas of the station that connects to an app developed by Guide Dogs Victoria that provides location- based information through audio output. Trialled in early 2018, the information such as ‘you are at XXX and the taxis are located 200 metres on your right...’ transforms the experience of vision impaired patrons.
Travellers Aid Australia (TAA): TAA provide services at the station that range from buggy mobility services to ferry patrons to and from their transport to medical companion services, in which volunteers escort patrons from the station precinct to appointments in Melbourne CBD. Over 100,000 people utilised Travellers Aid services at Southern Cross during the 2017-2018 financial year. Southern Cross Station provides funding to TAA and has recently increased funding for staffing and buggy provision at Southern Cross Station to increase capability and level of service.
Mission Engage Youth Program: Southern Cross Station actively supports the Father James Grant Foundation - Mission Engage Youth Program for at risk youth. This program consists of a 12-day course aimed at giving a diverse range of often disengaged youth key tools, experience, information and motivation to assist them move forward with employment and life opportunities. Southern Cross Station management team members provide insights and support groups participating in each course.
Customer stewardship will remain a key focus (and outcome) of Southern Cross Station’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) program as the facility adapts and moves forward. In conjunction with key partners and stakeholders, such as IFM and PTV, Civic Nexus is focused on continuing to consider their customers’ needs and expectations wherever possible, seeing Southern Cross Station as the hub of Melbourne and Victoria and as a place for our customer’s to connect, not only with services, but with friends and family.