DAREBIN’S MOST NOTORIOUS LEVEL CROSSINGS TO GO

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By Matthew Elmas

 

The Andrews government has unveiled plans to remove level crossings in Preston and Reservoir as part of an election commitment to remove 50 of Melbourne’s most dangerous and congested intersections.

 

The project, which is due to commence in 2018, will see crossings on both Bell and High street removed alongside a complete renovation of their closest stations – Bell and Reservoir.

 

The Minister for Public Transport, Jacinta Allan has said that the government is keeping its word to voters in removing these “congested death-traps.”

 

“They put pressure on local roads, put people’s lives at risk and cause daily frustration and delays for our commuters. Removing these two crossings will make travelling around Melbourne’s north easier and safer for everyone,” said Ms Allan.

 

Both level crossings were recommended for removal by a 2014 VicRoads report on the removal of level crossings throughout Melbourne, but neither crossing was considered to be a high priority location, with dozens of other crossings marked as more pressing.

 

However, the Andrews government has indicated that the development will increase the overall capacity of the South Morang line ahead of a planned extension of the route into Mernda in the coming years.

 

“Getting rid of these congested and unsafe level crossings is what our local community needs. The notorious Reservoir level crossing is rated by the RACV as the worst in Melbourne and its removal will be a lasting legacy of the Andrews Labor Government for the people of Reservoir and Preston,” said the Member for Preston Robin Scott.

 

The non-negotiables are passenger amenity and disability access. Proper shelter needs to be provided for passengers waiting for trains rather than an ‘architectural statement’ that fails to keep rain off platforms and access for wheelchairs that doesn’t rely solely on lifts that might break down.”

 

The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) has welcomed the move, but PTUA President Anthony Morton says that the project is just part of what’s needed to bring Melbourne’s train infrastructure into the 21st century.

 

“At this stage the government has made few commitments other than the grade separations, the Mernda extension and, as a longer term project, the Melbourne Metro rail tunnel. These are all welcome projects but a greater commitment is required given the run-down state of the existing infrastructure, which puts increasing constraints on the efficient operation of the system.”

 

“[The Andrews government] should be upfront with the community on what it sees as its priorities across infrastructure in general and particularly how it proposes to allocate limited funds in the transport portfolio given public transport patronage has increased five times as fast as private car travel in the past decade,” said Mr Morton.

 

The development will undergo a preliminary planning process in the coming months and will include community consultations undertaken by The Level Crossing Removal Authority.

 

Mr Morton believes that community involvement will be crucial to ensuring that the newly rebuilt stations meet the needs of local transport users.

 

“The non-negotiables are passenger amenity and disability access. Proper shelter needs to be provided for passengers waiting for trains rather than an ‘architectural statement’ that fails to keep rain off platforms and access for wheelchairs that doesn’t rely solely on lifts that might break down,” said Mr Morton.

 

Level Crossings 5 - Rod Ceballos - WEB

 

 

Matthew Elmas is a journalism student at La Trobe University. In his spare time he enjoys good books, great movies and thoughtful discussion. @mjelmas

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