Southland railway station
|Commuter rail station|
Looking south in November 2017
|Location||Bay Road, Cheltenham, Victoria|
|Operated by||Metro Trains|
|Distance||21.30 kilometres from Southern Cross|
|Platforms||2 side platforms|
|Structure type||At grade|
|Website||Public Tranport Victoria|
|Opened||26 November 2017|
The first proposal for a railway station between Highett and Cheltenham stations, at Bay Road, occurred during the construction of the Frankston line in the early 1880s. The push was led by the Shire of Moorabbin, whose president for some of that decade was Thomas Bent, a land developer and, later, premier of Victoria. Agitation continued through the 1880s, but was discontinued in the early 1890s, by which time the shire had other concerns demanding its attention, with a major economic depression having begun.
When Westfield Southland (then Southland Shopping Centre) opened in September 1968, discussions were raised on whether a railway station would be built on the Frankston line, adjacent to land then-occupied by the St John of God home for boys. Despite this, plans were not submitted.
The proposal arose again in 1990, by this stage, almost 110 years after the initial idea was established. This was in conjunction with the redevelopment of Westfield Southland shopping centre, which was expanded across the Nepean Highway to land adjacent to the Frankston railway line. The Public Transport Corporation wrote a letter to the City of Moorabbin, responding to suggestions that Cheltenham station be relocated; stating that the project would be infeasible. The Public Transport Users Association predicted that the redevelopment of Westfield Southland would create traffic congestion, unless a new railway station was built. Although plans had been discussed, the proposal was once again moot.
During the Victorian Election campaign in November 2002, the Labor State Government announced their intentions of implementing a feasibility study into the possibility of a station at Southland. The Cheltenham Chamber of Commerce expressed disapproval with these plans, fearing that the station would "kill" the nearby businesses on Charman Road (adjacent the Cheltenham railway station). Despite this, in 2004, the State Government commenced feasibility works. In 2009, the Victorian Employers' Chamber of Commerce and Industry listed a Southland railway station project as "urgent" and in need of a 2012–2014 completion, to support the population increase in Melbourne over the next 30 years, that would require established suburbs to have improved transport.
Almost 130 years since the original proposal, planning for the Southland railway station resurfaced in November 2010, during the Victorian state election. Both the government and opposition pledged to construct the railway station during the next term (2010–14). The Liberal/National Coalition won the 2010 election from the incumbent Labor government.
In the 2011 budget, $700,000 was allocated for planning; however, no time-frame had been set for the planning of the railway station project. The Department of Transport hosted an online survey on the proposed station entitled "Southland Station Survey"; its benefits and where it will be situated. The City of Kingston and the City of Bayside, alongside the Westfield Group, announced their intention to co-operate together. As a result of the State Government's consultations with both councils, the Government moved onto designing the station with input from the local community in November 2011.
By 2012 the project appeared to be on-hold; however, a spokesperson for the State Government claimed that planning for the station was still underway, "which includes identifying the exact location of the station, station layout and access requirements, arrangements for connecting bus services and connections with local roads". According to The Age, the station would not be built during the Liberal government's first term (2010–14).
Nevertheless, the City of Bayside established a project control group in support of the station and aimed at influencing the development. The City of Kingston, the Department of Planning and Community Development, the Department of Transport, VicRoads and Places Victoria also joined Bayside in establishing the group.
Funding for the station was allocated in the 2013/14 Victorian State Budget. In April 2014 the government announced construction would commence in 2015, with the station to open in 2016. In November 2014 Labor won the state election, resulting in a change of government. By March 2015, plans for the project were renewed and released. Consultation with the community began in March and was completed by May 2015. Construction on the station commenced in August 2016; since, an underpass has been constructed joining the two platforms, with construction on the closest platform towards the shopping centre starting in February 2017.
A key development in the Southland Principal Activity Centre, it has been predicted that the station will be used by 4,400 people daily. PTV purchased and developed land on the street adjacent to the railway line, 60 Tulip Grove, which will operate as a future access point to the station for residents on the west side of the railway.
Despite being referred to in public discourse as Southland Station since the 1990s redevelopment of the adjacent shopping centre, concerns had been raised about associating a public asset with a privately owned enterprise. Following discussions between stakeholders and the community, Public Transport Victoria confirmed in its February 2016 feedback summary report that the station would be named Southland.
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