$1 billion of direct investment, thousands of jobs translating into $5 billion worth of economic stimulus over the next 3-5 years - they're the numbers being spruiked by the State Government with the announcement of the Station Precinct Engagement Program at Jewell Station yesterday.
For a video summary of the project, you can view the 7 Network's news piece here.
A map of the station locations complete with the as-yet funded Melbourne Metro line also drawn for good measure.
Like the East-West and Dandenong corridor projects, the detail with regards to the expected return on investment has not been forthcoming. In isolation the numbers look quite impressive but cynics may suggest this is the State Government seemingly attempting to divert attention away from their extremely unpopular East-West Link project so early into the election campaign. Fundamentally we consider this announcement to be a step in the right direction.
Focusing on Jewell station for a moment, the brochure on VicTrack's site depicts quite a handsome station precinct should it be developed as outlined.
This is what Jewell currently looks like from the Sydney Road side of the station.
The mid-rises to the north and south of the heritage station building will not only bring more welcome apartments to this part of the Sydney Road precinct but will also provide passive security over the station.
Gone will be the current car park, replaced with an improved Upfield shared path and the retention of some of the greenery which current exists around the station. Reactivation of the heritage building gains a tick of approval as well.
The challenge, perhaps more for Moreland City Council, is to capitalise on this investment and drive development into Wilson Avenue bringing Sydney Road closer to Jewell station.
One question which remains is what could happen should at some point in the future the Government decide to grade separate the litany of level crossings along this stretch of the Upfield line?
To the immediate south of the station lie Park Street and Brunswick Road whilst Union Street frames the northern end of Jewell's platforms. Any grade separation project in this part of Brunswick would need to include those three roads plus the relocation or rebuild of the Jewell Station itself.
The Upfield line sees the worst frequencies of any rail line in Melbourne and according to the PTV's heavy rail plan released last year it would only see upgrades in frequency once the Metro Tunnel has created extra capacity on the existing Northern Loop for Craigieburn and Upfield. So that's a long way away but the requirement of the precinct changing once more should at least be placed in the moderate column of any risk assessment for developers and potential buyers.
Furthermore, factoring in future grade separations is likely to be an overarching theme for many of the 10 stations which are joining this State Government program.
Alphington, Essendon and Hampton stations feature nearby level crossings - will the State Government attempt to capture some of the value unleashed from the station precinct development to help pay for grade separations?