Trenches and elevated rail - Melbourne examples

There's been a fair bit of level crossing removal spin in the mainstream media this week, with terms like 'skytrains' and the State opposition taking an apparent position on the 'best' method of grade separating level crossings.

The 'best' solution for each grade separation project depends on many different factors and each and every site requires a bespoke design and engineering response. From various reports it appears one organisation that is tendering for the Dandenong corridor projects (nine level crossings will be grade separated) has proposed to use a rail above road grade design.

The ensuing commentary, especially from the State opposition, has sought to paint elevating railway track above the ground level as an inferior solution.

My view is that elevated railway tracks create valuable public space and removes pedestrian barriers. Likewise rail under road grade type engineering solutions are just as appropriate where the 'trench' effect can be minimised.

Here's a street view which looks at the trench effect created as part of the Rooks Road and Mitcham Road (Mitcham Station) grade separation project.

Much has been made of the existing elevated rail grade separations: Glenferrie and Balaclava are the most referenced, and they're both great examples of how space is well utilised around the station precincts.

Yet Balaclava, Glenferrie and all the other examples cited were created by building an earth-filled embankment and then installing steel bridges across the roadways.

This is the 1970s era design and construction for the City Loop viaducts between Flinders Street and Spencer Street: no embankments, just pylons holding up a track deck and catenary.

The difference between elevated approaches should be apparent and the City Loop example has had the benefit of 30+ years of public realm design re-think and action resulting in a new public space right in the heart of the city. Why can't we take this good urban design and apply it in the suburbs?

Parks, walking trails or cycle tracks - valuable public amenities whether you live in the suburbs or the inner city - are possible with an approach like the City Loop viaducts on the Dandenong corridor.

Lead image credit: Google Street View.

Development & Planning

Wednesday, December 13, 2017 - 12:00
The swirl of development activity in Footscray has found another gear as new projects are submitted for approval, or are on the verge of beginning construction. Two separate planning applications have been advertised by Maribyrnong City Council; their subsequent addition to the Urban Melbourne Project Database has seen the overall number of apartment developments within Footscray in development swell to 40.

Policy, Culture & Opinion

Monday, November 20, 2017 - 12:00
The marriage of old and new can be a difficult process, particularly when the existing structure has intrinsic heritage value. In previous times Fitzroy's 237 Napier Street served as the home of furniture manufacturer C.F. Rojo and Sons. Taking root during 1887, Christobel Rojo oversaw operations though over time the site would become home to furniture manufacturer Thonet.


Visual Melbourne

Friday, August 25, 2017 - 07:00
The former site of John Batman's home, Batman's Hill is entering the final stages of its redevelopment. Collins Square's final tower has begun its skyward ascent, as has Lendlease's Melbourne Quarter Commercial and Residential precinct already. Melbourne Quarter's first stage is at construction and involves a new 12-storey home for consultancy firm Arup along with a skypark.

Transport & Design

Friday, December 15, 2017 - 11:00
Infrastructure Victoria unveiled a new round of research into its larger programme of work dealing with managing transport demand. The authority contracted Arup and KPMG to produce the Melbourne Activity Based Model (MABM) and while it is new, it is considered fit for purpose in the strategic context.

Sustainability & Environment

Tuesday, October 24, 2017 - 12:00
Cbus Property's office development for Medibank at 720 Bourke Street in Docklands recently became the first Australian existing property to receive a WELL Certification, Gold Shell and Core rating. The WELL rating goes beyond sustainable building features with a greater focus on the health and well-being of a building's occupants.