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Buckley Street and Camp Road level crossings to be fast-tracked

One day after the Port of Melbourne lease announcement, the Victorian Government has brought forward 11 level crossing removals, two of which - Buckley Street in Essendon and Camp Road in Campbellfield - will be fast-tracked with work commencing next year and complete by 2019.

The 11 level crossings have been split into two packages with both now out to tender.

The "North Western" package has five sites. As well as the two fast-tracked projects, the package includes Glenroy Road in Glenroy, Bell Street in Coburg and Moreland Road in Brunswick.

The "Western" package of level crossing removal sites includes Koroit Creek Road in the industrial area of Williamstown North - as well as the partial duplication of the Altona loop - Aviation Road in Laverton, Ferguson Street in Williamstown (site of Williamstown North station), Cherry and Werribee Streets in Werribee and the south-eastern anomaly Abbots Road in Dandenong South.

Construction on the Koroit Creek Road level crossing removal and Altona loop partial duplication will begin next year.

Comment

I'm loath to use the term "sky rail" however with Bell Street in Coburg and Moreland Road in Brunswick is there an opportunity to take an axe to the mind-bogglingly high number of level crossings between Park Street and Bell Street, with one fell swoop?

The primary benefit of elevating rail lines is that space, once occupied by rail track, is turned over to other public uses. Brunswick and Coburg see some of the highest rates of cycling in the city yet the Upfield bike path is routinely called out as inadequate and congested with both cyclists and pedestrians sharing the same space.

While the Upfield line is not the busiest line on the network, things appear to be changing with this year's budget having funds to reconnect the end of the Upfield line to the Craigieburn line thus creating a path for regional (and freight) trains.

Bell Street to Park Street measures roughly 4-5km, has five stations and a whopping 12 level crossings (it used to have more). The density of crossings is highest at the southern end in Brunswick, which just so happens to be the area which will see the highest population growth based on development project pipeline data on the Urban Melbourne project database.

Calling all Brunswick and Coburg residents: should this entire stretch be elevated in one go so that a) there's better rail infrastructure for increased services, b) better cycling infrastructure and c) more public space?

12 comments

Adam Ford's picture

a YES
b YESYES - and you can have a properly designated trail and close the dangerous route on Sydney Rd.
c YESYESYESYES

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Mark's picture

Shame that the Andrews Government is doing nothing about the crossing wherein the two elderly ladies were killed a week or so ago. Also no consultation on 'Sky-Rail' - so typical of the weak Government he leads.

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Alastair Taylor's picture

I dare say there'll be some kind of response to Surrey Hills / Mont Albert after whatever enquiries that are currently running are complete. Plus - Surrey Hills & Mont Albert will be the last remaining level crossings between the city and Ringwood when the current round is complete.

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Fraser's picture

Yes absolutely!

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Llib's picture

Mark, the LNP party from 2010-2014 did virtually nothing and the earlier terms of government from both sides of politics had neglected level crossing removals for decades before that. At least the Andrews government is achieving this at a record pace. Additionally the design of these projects (especially Skyrail) is far superior compared to the hideous examples of Oakleigh, Burnley and Huntingdale.

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Peter Maltezos's picture

Keep politics out of this people.

The fact that these level crossings are being removed should be applauded whether you are a Labor, Liberal or Greens supporter!

We are all Victorian first!

I collect, therefore I am.
thecollectormm.com.au

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Llib's picture

At the end of the day it comes down to the style of leadership that runs the party. The Labor government from 1999 to 2010 had ignored the problem or prioritised other areas of transport.

It is politics and elections that decide what gets prioritised and what doesn't, if the LNP party had been voted in the EW link would be underway and we would have had much fewer level crossings removed including some remaining on the Dandenong line and Surrey Hills.

Its good to keep politics out of it but unless you have a completely independent infrastructure body, politics will always be a major factor.

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mike In Brunswick West's picture

Yes yes yes. A radial cycle road would be fabulous, and the extra open space would be welcome too. Do it from Park street outwards.

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theboynoodle's picture

With that Brunswick corridor also being very suited to mid-rise, which is a much better fit for 'sky rail' than low-rise, it does seem like a good plan.

However, I can't help fearing that *any* future sky-rail is unlikely due to the fallout from the existing plans. The media seemed to take a very strong 'anti' line, with no attempts at balance, and the rebuttals from Spring Street have been mild. I think I've even seen official PR for removals elsewhere that expressly rule-out sky-rail, as if it's an important PR point.

I'd love to see the idea proposed for Brunswick, if only to gauge the response of the local population of hipsters and green-voters.

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jamesroute96's picture

I love the idea of the Upfield line being elevated with a proper bike path underneath. But I suspect that Park Street will have to be a trench because the grade further south through Royal Park is already kind of in a trench, and raising the gradient might be difficult and may not be justifiable. Further north of Park Street, hell yeah. But I'd love to see how the residents abutting the line would react. Will the more progressive types of the inner north have a similar level of objection to elevated rail as their south eastern conservative cousins on the Dandy line and for the same reasons?

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Tim Wardrop's picture

James, I suspect that is the biggest impediment to elevated rail along that stretch. From Royal Park Station to Park St the grade is already 2% which seems to be about as far as they're pushing it at other grade separations. With the density of crossings you wouldn't be able to transition from a trench to elevated until north of Albion St, or even north of Moreland Rd, even if you chose to close more roads.

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johnproctor's picture

One interesting thing about the Surrey Hills level crossing is that I know one very senior planner (would now be retired but was a senior beurocrat in the Kennett years and until recently a planning panels victoria and VCAT member) who would proudly tell the tale of how he fought with the local community of surrey hills to stop that crossing being removed back in the 70's (when the likes of Oakleigh etc were completed).

happy to keep the congestion created by the level crossing to reduce through traffic and keep the village feel and 'charm' of the middle eastern suburbs.

Wonder how those 2 old ladies feel about that fight.

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