Sunday, January 10, 2016
Public Transport Trains Melbourne Sky Rail Elevated Rail for Pakenham Cranbourne line outlined in secret Andrews Government plans Herald Sun Jan 11th 2016
Sky rail for Pakenham Cranbourne line outlined in secret Andrews Government plans
January 11, 2016 12:00am
Matt JohnstonHerald Sun
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Rail bridges would come to the suburbs under a State Government plan to remove level crossings. Picture: Eugene Hyland.
TRAINS would run two storeys above street level for several kilometres along Melbourne’s busiest public transport corridor under secret plans to replace level crossings with suburban sky rail.
Designs have been submitted to the Andrews Government to elevate tracks and stations along parts of the Cranbourne-Pakenham line, clearing the way for land underneath to be used for parks, car parks or shops.
The concept would radically change the suburban Melbourne landscape and has sparked concerns from some local councillors, while the state Opposition has warned sky rail would “split communities in half”.
But public transport and urban design experts say raised rail lines have worked in Canada, and would be far cheaper than road tunnelling.
The sky rail plan has been devised as part of Labor’s key $6 billion program to remove 50 level crossings by 2022 — which the Coalition predicts will blow out to more than $8 billion.
It is proposed in the tender process for the Cranbourne-Pakenham corridor rebuild, which will include demolishing nine level crossings from Grange Rd in Carnegie through to Chandler Rd in Noble Park.
GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES DAREBIN LEVEL CROSSING REMOVAL TIMELINE
The sky rail plan has been devised as part of Labor’s key $6 billion level crossing removal program. Picture: Eugene Hyland.
Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan would not comment on the sky rail concept, but said the Government was “considering the best way to deliver our election commitment to remove nine level crossings along the Cranbourne-Pakenham line”.
Southern Metropolitan MP and Opposition planning spokesman David Davis said yesterday: “Nobody voted for a skytrain way up in the air cutting a swathe through densely settled suburbs.”
Under the plan, elevated tracks would replace level crossings currently clustered together.
Ms Allan said: “No final decision has been taken regarding this rail corridor.”
But Mr Davis said the community should be concerned.
“There has been no real consultation with local communities and councils on this ugly sky option and its massive impacts including thunderous noise, wasteland spaces and slicing communities in half,’’ he said.
Two consortia are currently vying to build the Cranbourne-Pakenham line upgrade.
Level Crossing Removal Authority spokeswoman Andrea Duckworth said a preferred bidder for the project should be confirmed early this year, and promised “extensive community consultation on the preferred bidder’s proposed concept to help refine the designs”.
Ms Duckworth said construction would begin this year, and all nine level crossings would be removed by the end of 2018.
If sky rail was endorsed, every station with a level crossing now would have it replaced. This could lead to more car parking for commuters.
There is already some elevated rail in Melbourne, at Canterbury and Balaclava stations and between Flinders St and Southern Cross stations.
Public Transport Users Association spokesman Daniel Bowen said it would be quicker and cheaper to build.
Ian Woodcock, urban design lecturer at RMIT and a student of elevated rail around the world, said although he had not seen any designs, the concept could create new bike paths or parks under tracks.
The Herald Sun understands sections of the Frankston line near the beach have also been considered for elevated rail, because of a high water table that makes tunnel digging difficult.
However, there are serious concerns within Labor about a political backlash.
Glen Eira deputy mayor Karina Okotel said there had been insufficient consultation about the upgrade. “For residents in Carnegie and Murrumbeena, a rail running over the top (of the road) will distress a lot of people,” she said.