Category Archives: Melbourne north

PTUA presents inaugural Paul Mees Award to ‘people power’ transport activists

The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) has presented the inaugural Paul Mees Award for transport advocacy to Darren Peters and Trevor Carroll of the South Morang and Mernda Rail Alliance.

Trevor Carroll and Darren Peters of the South Morang and Mernda Rail Alliance, accepting the inaugural Paul Mees Award

PTUA Tony Morton presented the award to Mr Peters and Mr Carroll at the PTUA’s 2013 Annual General Meeting.

“Darren and Trevor are worthy recipients of this inaugural Paul Mees Award”, said Dr Morton. “They are a great example of ‘people power’, working hard, battling bureaucracy and politicians to bring better outcomes for their local community.

“They have laboured tirelessly to bring much-needed rail services to the northern suburbs, and the fact that trains now run to South Morang is due in no small part to their campaigning.
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North-east freeway will dump cars on Boroondara

A north-east freeway link would create mayhem on Boroondara roads according to the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA). “A freeway ending right on Boroondara’s doorstep will dump many more cars on our roads,” said PTUA spokesman Jeremy Lunn.

“Roads such as Burke Road, Bulleen Road, Doncaster Road, High Street and Balwyn Road would become traffic sewers. Home owners will pay the true price as property values plummet from all the extra traffic.
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North-east freeway could kill Doncaster rail

A north-east freeway link would create mayhem on Manningham roads and would put the much needed Doncaster railway at risk according to the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA).

“The Brumby government is so intent on denying Doncaster residents with rail, that they’re already looking at ways to dig a grave for Doncaster rail,” said PTUA spokesman Jeremy Lunn. “All the north-east freeway will do is dump many more cars on our roads.
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Busway only second-best according to PTUA

The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) has rejected the proposed busway to Mernda as a second-best solution, saying the rail line should be extended instead.

“When it comes to major infrastructure, you should do it right, do it once,” said PTUA president Daniel Bowen. “The existing rail reservation is still there, and should be used for rail.

“With a growing community, there are real concerns that the busway won’t have the required capacity, and that it will have to be eventually upgraded to rail. That will be a major inconvenience to the community, as well as a complete waste of money.
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State election public transport forums in your area

Community Forums
The Metropolitan Transport Forum (MTF), of which the PTUA is an associate member, is holding public transport forums in various areas around Melbourne in the lead-up to November’s state election.

The forums will feature speakers from all the major parties and questions from the community.

Six forums are planned so far:
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The truth behind South Morang

Originally posted at Transport and (in abridged form) in the PTUA Newsletter.

TrackworksEver since the Victorian Transport Plan last December flagged that the South Morang rail extension would finally be built, there has been speculation as to why the cost was so high. At $650 million for a 3.5 kilometre extension, many pondered if it would include gold-plated rails and platforms.

When the 2009 state budget actually committed funding to it, the price had dropped slightly to $562 million, but this was due to the initial figure including running costs, apparently for several decades. Even counting the duplication from Keon Park to Epping at the same cost as the extension, it was still five times higher than the per-kilometre cost of the Craigieburn project completed just two years ago.

A feature article in The Age in June highlighted the issue, with local activists delighted at the commitment but mystified over the price, the opposition claiming taxpayers are being dudded, and public transport advocates (such as myself) fearing that the high price will discourage governments from future rail extensions. The Department of Transport offered the explanation that the project was a “more holistic approach to scoping the expansion of the Epping line”, but apparently didn’t clarify this in any great detail.

We (the PTUA) subsequently met with the Department, and finally discovered the real truth behind the term “holistic”. It turns out the scope of work is much bigger than just the South Morang extension plus duplication from Keon Park.

The way it was described, it includes:

  • Keon Park to Epping
    • duplication, obviously including track and overhead
    • two or three pedestrian grade-separations
    • station upgrades, and an additional platform at Thomastown
    • upgrades to 4 level crossings to latest standard
    • resignalling, including removal of bidirectional signalling on the existing single track (it conflicts with the proposed location of the second track), and re-signalling most of the rest of the line, almost down to Clifton Hill
    • stabling at Epping, with driver facilities to enable future changeovers to move away from Flinders St
    • extra substations
  • Epping to South Morang
    • dual track, overhead. We were told the old alignment can’t be used without modification, as there are grade separations and other issues with it
    • signalling
    • Dalton Road grade separation. Due to proximity of Epping train maintenance facilities (which can’t be moved), relocation of local roads (which can’t be disconnected from Dalton Rd) and the nearest creek (which the track must get over), this is said to be a reasonably complicated component, on a similar scale to Springvale Road grade separation
    • 3 bridges over creeks
    • bike/ped path along rail route, and included in bridges
    • grade separation of Pindari Avenue and Civic Drive
    • a new substation
    • communications systems including radio towers
    • South Morang station, including bike, bus, car parking, and provision for further extension to Mernda
  • Hurstbridge line
    • signalling upgrades on parts of line, to help harmonise frequencies to work better with the Epping/South Morang line
    • stabling at Eltham, including driver facilities, and which will require the moving of some existing trackwork

The scope of works goes some way to explaining the cost. Perhaps it doesn’t bring it down to the level of Perth’s Mandurah line, but at the very least it brings it back down to somewhere near Planet Earth.

It seems to makes some sense to include in the project scope upgrades that will help the rest of the Clifton Hill group run better. If things turn out to plan, in 2013 (just in time for the 2014 state election) the benefits should be felt not just to residents in South Morang, but also elsewhere along the Epping and Hurstbridge lines.

What is a real mystery is why the Department doesn’t publicise the true scope of the project. While the information is apparently no secret, as a number of groups have been briefed on the project breakdown, neither has it been made public.

Surely flagging the real scope of the project, with all the resultant benefits, would be better for the government than hiding the details away and having major newspapers writing feature articles highlighting the apparent cost overruns and implying incompetent project management.

South Morang extension funding welcomed, but buck passing not

The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) has welcomed the Federal Coalition’s commitment of funds to the Mernda rail extension in Melbourne’s north.

“This rail extension will help to cut greenhouse emissions and fuel expenses in the heart of the mortgage belt where transport costs put major pressure on household finances,” said PTUA President Daniel Bowen. “We believe this is recognition that alternatives to driving are sorely needed to ease the squeeze on family budgets as well as to reduce greenhouse emissions and oil imports.”

Treasurer Peter Costello committed $80 million to two overpasses associated with the rail extension while visiting the area today. The federal government has however declined to fund public transport infrastructure, leaving the state government to fund all of the track laying, signalling and stations as well as several other road crossings along the route.

“Of course the money is welcome, but the buck passing is not. It highlights the silly arbitrary demarcation where the federal government will put billions into state and local roads but nothing into public transport,” said Mr Bowen. “Australia is one of the most urbanised countries in the world but the Australian government is unique among Western nations in not investing in urban public transport. This embarrassment needs fixing urgently.”
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