Flinders Street Railway Station at the corner of Flinders and Swanston Streets is the oldest station in Australia (1910) although the first station on this site opened in 1854!
Flinders street is the busiest suburban railway station in the southern hemisphere even after the completion of the city loop railway subway and its 700 metre main platform is the longest in the country.
Flinders Street Station is 'the' meeting place for Melburnians, expressed simply as "meet me under the clocks", a reference to the clocks above the main entrance.
Flinders Street Railway Station
Over the years, Flinders Street Station has become a famous Melbourne landmark, emerging as a symbol of Victoria's capital city and is an institution in the daily routine of nearly a quarter of a million people.
In 1854, Flinders Street Station was an interesting collection of weatherboard sheds known as the Melbourne Terminus. It was the first steam rail station in Australia, a fact that pleased Victorians who were used to taking second place to New South Wales, the mother colony.
Thousands of people assembled at the station and along the track to Sandridge (today known as Port Melbourne) to see not only Victoria's, but Australia's first public steam train.
The other two city stations, Princes Bridge and Spencer Street, were opened in 1859. Although these stations were only a short distance away from Flinders Street, it took a number of years before they were connected.
In the late 1880s, Flinders Street Station trains went to Port Melbourne and St Kilda; Brighton Beach and Hawthorn trains departed from Princes Bridge Station; and Southern Cross Station (Previously Spencer Street Station) catered for trains serving Williamstown, Geelong, Ballarat, Woodend, Kyneton, Sandhurst (renamed Bendigo), Echuca and Wodonga.
Construction of the viaduct with two tracks got underway about December 1888. The viaduct was duplicated in 1915 and provided four rail tracks between Spencer and Flinders Streets.
A few years after the viaduct opened, enlargement of Flinders Street Station became an ultimate necessity, because of the increased passenger traffic using the station. In 1889, the Railway Commissioners arranged a competition for the design of a new station, with a first prize of 500 pounds awarded to J. W. Fawcett and H. P. C. Ashworth.
Preliminary work began in 1901, and on September 25, 1905, a contract was let for construction of the station building which was completed in 1910 at an estimated cost of 514,000 pounds.
At last, the people of Melbourne had a station of which they could be proud. The concourse ran along the Swanston Street end, with ramps dropping down to each platform. A subway replaced the old footbridge at the Elizabeth Street entrance.
The clocks at the main entrance of the station were part of the original design plans, and remain in almost the same place as they did in the early years of construction. The 13 clocks are now operated by computer and indicate train departures to suburban lines. An attempt was once made to replace them with video screens, but the outcry was enormous and therefore they have remained.
did you know?
Rumours abound that the plans for Bombay railway station and Flinders St railway station were mixed up in the designers' office in London, and as a result the Bombay railway station now sits in Melbourne and the original Flinders St railway station was built in Bombay.
While there's no actual evidence to support this claim, Flinders Street Station has in fact had its influences reach further ashore. The Luz Station in Sao Paulo, Brazil was based on a design inspired by the lines of Flinders Street Station.
The telegraph.co.uk named Flinders Street Railway Station the world's 17th most spectacular railway station.
For information related to trains, arrival and departure times, access, timetables, platforms, fares and tickets contact Public Transport Victoria | 1800 800 007
Corner Swanston Street and Flinders StreetMelbourneVictoria3001Australia | View Map Telephone: 1800 800 007