9 Level Crossing Removals – Clearing up Some Mistruths

We have just had the release of the proposed designs for the removal of 9 level crossings between Caulfield and Dandenong. This means getting rid of the crossings at Grange, Koornang, Murrumbeena, Poath, Clayton and Centre Roads and 3 more on the line. (you can view the video of the designs here: Level Crossing Removals)

Labor went to the election with a commitment to remove 50 level crossings. The removal of our crossings are amongst the first.

I have spoken to literally thousands of people, at train stations, in the street, in phone calls, emails and letters who just want these level crossings removed. I’ve even had conversations with people from their driver’s seat, stuck in their cars waiting for the seemingly endless trains to go by and the boom gates to go up. They had been incredibly frustrated by the inaction for many years on this issue. These thousands of people, tens of thousands all along the corridor also deserve a voice. This proposal reflects their views – and deals sympathetically with those living close to the line. We haven’t wasted any time in getting on with it.

I understand that some people might not agree with the proposal, particularly those who border the track – but the designs deal with many of the issues raised – reduced noise, less vibrations, privacy screening and activation funds to maintain the new parks. The land behind the homes on the track, which is currently inaccessible will now become open parkland. There are a range of views which is to be expected of a infrastructure project of this size. This range of views has been reflected in the correspondence I have received and the conversations I have had with the community over the last couple of years – but with a key emphasis of removing the crossings as soon as possible.

In the last few weeks, there have been a range of mistruths being given to the community. I’ll have a lot more to say about this, but it is clear that there is likely a political motive behind many of them. I’ll be updating the following list as needed.

Starting this weekend, consultations will begin where you will be able to see the proposed designs in full – and provide your views and ideas about the things you want for our community. I’d encourage you to get along to one of these sessions – your questions will be able to be answered by the many staff and experts from the Level Crossing Removal Authority. Link: Upcoming community consultations

Here are some facts:

• Murrumbeena Station will be staying exactly where it is now – this has always been the case – there is no super station somewhere else – and Murrumbeena Station will be rebuilt as was planned all along.

• This design retains the shops on Neerim Road, Murrumbeena – shops which are likely to have been demolished with an open cut trenching option, that means Daniel Son Café and the Lions Club Op Shop stay exactly where there are now

• There are more mature trees being kept under this proposal. Because of the destructive nature of open cut and the associated trenching, most of the mature trees would have been ripped out. This proposal saves many trees and plants more than 4250 trees all along the corridor.

• The Caulfield/Murrumbeena Scout Hall is staying exactly where it is – there has never been any plan to remove it. Our plan has been, and continues to be retaining public amenities, increasing open space and making them more accessible.

• The Murrumbeena Park/Boyd Park will be entirely retained as it is. This terrific park was never at threat. Suggestions to the contrary are completely false and likely generated by political motives

• There are no 20 storey car parks being built – quite obviously ridiculous – but this was a comment I’m told was made by Liberal Party representatives at a public meeting

• There will not be a 17km stretch of elevated rail – it will be in 3 distinct sections

• Parks created in place of the current dirty track area – a no go zone – will be fully maintained – funds have already been set aside for this. This maintenance will be conducted in conjunction with the local councils and the community

• Consultation with the community took place between August and November last year – all options for the removal of our level crossings was discussed – including rail over road. Link: Consultation report

• Trenching to go underground is much more destructive than going over and requires the line and surrounding roads to be shut for much longer

• There is no guarantee that the open cut method would not have involved long sections of deep trenches with retaining walls and high cyclone fencing – see some photos below of Springvale following the level crossing removal. These trenches – possibly for kilometres at a time – can’t be covered and would need to have long sections of high cyclone fencing. Under this method, there would be no more open space – no parklands for the community.

• Noise will be reduced under this proposal. Expert acoustic modelling has shown that noise will be reduced by around 50% under this plan. This is due to the design, tracks being fitted directly to the structure and noise being directed up – not across. The method of trenching and open cut is likely to have increased noise due to the echo affect when trains go by in a trench.

• Privacy of properties will be protected. Screens will be put in place where the trains pass residential properties to ensure that passengers cannot see into backyards. This is different to the current situation, where many homes are visible from the train, all across Melbourne but also on the Cranbourne/Pakenham line. The Level Crossing Removal Authority will be working directly with each resident on the line to answer any questions and deal specifically with any concerns they may have.

• The current design results in 75,000 less truck movements – that’s hundreds less trucks every day for months and months – meaning a lot less dust, noise and local congestion

Some recent photos below of the result of the level crossing removal at Springvale – where trenching occurs for a significant distance past the train station

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