As you know, level crossings are probably the biggest source of frustration for our local community – they waste an enormous amount of time, they cut off communities and they are incredibly dangerous. They need to be removed as soon as possible.
The Andrews Government went to an election committing to remove 50 level crossings around Melbourne. This program has already started and it makes sense that our level crossings are in the first batch to be removed – they have been consistently rated as the worst or amongst the worst in Melbourne.
I would like to let you know that the proposed designs for this major infrastructure package have been released. The plan will remove the 9 level crossings, including those in our community at Grange, Koornang, Murrumbeena, Poath, Clayton and Centre Roads. There will be a rebuild of stations at Carnegie, Murrumbeena, Hughesdale and Clayton. And there will be 37 new trains to increase passenger capacity by up to 42%.
Through the second half of 2015, the Level Crossing Removal Authority (LXRA) conducted over 40 separate publicly open consultations, had thousands of conversations, received more than 1500 pieces of feedback from residents, businesses, stakeholders and local councils and distributed over 300,000 newsletters, with all options for removal of level crossings discussed. Link: LXRA December Update
The suggestions and views from the community were provided to the companies bidding for the project – so that your ideas could be incorporated into the proposed design, like saving mature trees, keeping the community village feel and providing more car parking.
I believe the innovative elevated rail solution in 3 sections incorporates and enhances world best design by removing ground level train tracks and creating 6 km or 225,000 square metres of new parkland and new facilities for our community. To get an idea of how big that is, it is about the size of 11 MCG’s of brand new space entirely dedicated for community use.
The City of Glen Eira has the lowest amount of public open space in all of Metropolitan Melbourne. This new design significantly adds to the much needed open area for our community. And it does so by creating a modern design without the loss of other amenities.
These designs connect communities by opening up areas on and around the tracks that are currently no go zones – supposedly off limits to the public but still dangerous, dirty and full of graffiti. There will now be greater visibility and night lighting. And the proposal includes parallel but separated tracks, meaning the parkland will have plenty of sunshine and rain.
The new designs will mean that there is no need for destructive long trenching that would continue to separate communities along the line. There will be significantly less noise, disruption and dust during construction – given the 75 thousand less trucks movements that would have been needed to excavate the area. This would have meant hundreds of trucks each and every day for months on end in our community.
And these innovative plans mean there will be a lot less time disruption during construction for vehicles, pedestrians, commuters and residents because the new line can be built while the existing line is still running.
The plans also show that there will be a 50% reduction in noise compared to the current situation of trains at ground level. This is due to the brand new construction, directly fixing tracks to the structure and noise walls put in place to ensure noise travels up – not down or across into properties. And of course, there will be no need for the constant train horns or the ringing of level crossing boom gates at all hours.
In addition, there will be privacy provisions – meaning that train passengers won’t be able to look down into the backyards of properties as occurs in many places currently on our line. And for those bordering the train line, properties may now have access directly to open parkland from their backyards if they choose to.
Individual properties directly abutting the train line will be contacted directly by the LXRA with experts available for any questions. So while the privacy issues and noise concerns have been addressed, the LXRA will be working with all residents directly abutting the line. In fact each of these properties will be allocated a dedicated case manager to work through any queries they may have and advise of any additional provisions that may be needed.
The new train stations will be fully accessible, weather protected buildings which allow for village spaces underneath, better parking and bus interchanges as well as opportunities for some retail, like cafes.
There will be more parking for commuters and for local shoppers. Shops and businesses which would have been at threat of demolition by other designs, like those in Neerim Road Murrumbeena will be retained. This will help to keep and even enhance the village feel of our shopping areas – this is incredibly important for our community.
Lots of mature historic trees will be saved compared to other construction methods, and over 4250 new trees will be planted. The designs also show that all existing parkland and community facilities bordering the corridor are not only protected, but will allow easier access for all the community.
Further significant consultations will occur in the coming weeks where you will have the opportunity to have your say. So let the LXRA know what you think of the overall design and what you would like to see as part of the crossing removal program.
Options for the brand new parkland might include sports areas, ponds, native flora, picnic and BBQ spaces, pop up shops or even room for weekend community markets. But that is entirely up to you, so please do make a contribution.
The consultations will start shortly so please visit the level crossing website regularly where you will find the latest information, for example: http://levelcrossings.vic.gov.au/crossings/murrumbeena-rd,-murrumbeena
However, as I have said previously, feel free to let me know your views and I will be only too happy to pass on your thoughts and suggestions to the LXRA and the consortium.
There have been hollow promises in the past, but until now, no money has ever been allocated to complete the removal our level crossings. This is the first time we have seen detailed plans and are on the cusp of construction.
Removing level crossings continues to be one of the key priorities of this government. Doing so in a totally innovative design which creates parkland from dirty, dangerous and graffiti ridden no go zones is something I believe will enhance the reputation of Melbourne and our community.