Victoria

Two more level crossings to go, bringing relief to drivers - and some residents

Two of northern Melbourne's most hated level crossings are to be removed by the Andrews government, even though neither had been considered urgently needed under a 2014 VicRoads assessment.

Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan on Monday announced that level crossings at High Street, Reservoir, and Bell Street, Preston, would go as part of the government's promise to remove 50 over two terms of government.

Melbourne's worst level crossings overlooked

Some of Melbourne's most congested level crossings identified by VicRoads aren't on the government's list of crossings set to be removed.

Reservoir and Bell railway stations will also be rebuilt. Both projects will commence in 2018.

Both level crossings regularly experience collisions and near misses, and a fatality occurred near the Reservoir crossing in 2006.

Mella Gigis bought next to the rail line in Preston in 2013 and says she has slowly been driven mad by car and train noise.
Mella Gigis bought next to the rail line in Preston in 2013 and says she has slowly been driven mad by car and train noise.  Photo: Simon O'Dwyer

"Removing these two crossings will make travelling around Melbourne's north easier and safer," Ms Allan said.

Removal of the Bell Street crossing can't come quick enough for resident Mella Gigis.

The 68-year-old's apartment overlooks the level crossing, and she says the noise has all but driven her crazy in her three years living there.

Buying the apartment was "the biggest mistake I've made in my life", Ms Gigis said.

The High Street, Reservoir, level crossing the state government will begin removing in 2018.
The High Street, Reservoir, level crossing the state government will begin removing in 2018.  Photo: Simon O'Dwyer

"My house is beautiful but I can't sleep all night. The house shakes because the semi trailers are so big, and the train is so loud – especially at night time."

She hoped removing the level crossing would help reduce the problem.

Preston MP and finance minister Robin Scott said the Reservoir crossing was also extremely unpopular with locals. He said its removal would be a lasting legacy for the city.

The two level crossings both appeared on VicRoads' list of Melbourne's most needed removals, compiled in 2014.

But neither was highlighted as being of a high, medium or even lower priority in the short term, with dozens considered more urgent.

By 2022, however, population growth would make the two among those considered the most in need of removal.

Melbourne has almost 250 level crossings, 178 of them on the Metro Trains network.

The RACV's Brian Negus said the Reservoir crossing had appeared on the transport group's last three "Red Spot" surveys of the state's most hated congestion spots.

Alphington's Chandler Highway bridge topped the last survey, followed by Reservoir.

Delays at railway level crossings were among the most infuriating road conditions, he said. "A lot of the level crossings are shut for more than 30 minutes in each hour during peak hour."

Greens leader Greg Barber said doing one or two level crossing removals on each line wouldn't add extra train services. "While it's good to cut local traffic congestion, there's no real plan here to run more trains and relieve overcrowding."

But the Public Transport Users Association commended the removals, with president Tony Morton saying there was a consensus between public transport authorities, VicRoads and the community that they should be done.

The Preston and Reservoir crossings were good projects to tackle, he said. "These are level crossings that are not the safest, that make motorists see red, and that have stations that we feel no nostalgia for," Dr Morton said. "The stations need rebuilding with proper disability access and better facilities."

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