Sky Rail is needed

I fully support Sky Rail. It’s practical, effective and safe, and from the point of view of disruption to current services while being built the only way to go about it – especially where it is being pushed.

The proposal carries rail over all the present level crossings between Caulfield and Oakleigh knocking out four of them, as well as a section between Huntingdale and Westall knocking out two, and a section between Sandown Park and Yarraman knocking out another three – leaving no level crossings at all between the city and Dandenong.

Now the reason why this is practical is simple. Tunnels under the present crossings at Carnegie, Murrumbeena, Hughesdale and Clayton would majorly disrupt local business. My sister in law lives near Murrumbeena station so I have seen for myself that there just isn’t the room for a construction site there alone. From the train I can see the same issues at the other three stations. So it is clear that the Daniel Andrews government is thinking of small business over a substantial area. Not only that – I’m reading that the proposed viaduct within the elevated rail will have room for two more tracks – which that line needs. There is room for ground based extra tracks beyond Oakleigh (except through Clayton) but having said that I think there may be an issue with a water table around Noble Park. If I remember they came across an unexpected one during the Mitcham project, and that elevated the construction cost. Hence another preference for raising the rail rather than diving it (pun not intended).

It has also been mooted that Sky Rail would also be used to eliminate level crossings between Mordialloc and Carrum. Some of the crossings on that section (looking from the train and on foot in the case of Chelsea) are potential death traps – almost as bad as St.Albans in my opinion. The practical restrictions for diving the line there are two roads in close proximity on either side of the line leaving no room again for a construction site, and the close proximity to the beach leading to another water table issue – not to mention having not enough space to dive the line between the bridge over the Patterson River and Carrum station.

There have been protests about this. I’m all for people voicing their concerns, but when people do that generally they fail to provide alternatives. Do they want these level crossings to stay? I seriously doubt that they would, but the trouble is if they get in the way they may put themselves at loggerheads with local business leading to hubs like Carnegie and Murrumbeena for example crashing down. That’s bad for the local economy and bad for residents in the long term. I will never accept the eye sore argument when practicality fries that concept in percentage terms. I think I read or heard that one resident on the Caulfield to Oakleigh section was concerned about his backyard privacy. Aside from the fact that it would be impossible to see into people’s backyards on that angle without making Sky Rail unsafe, what above helicopters that fly around such as the police chopper? It smacks of paranoia to a George Orwell level and that can’t be respected or valued.

Let’s face facts. We need to eliminate level crossings. Work has already started on St.Albans, Blackburn and the section between Glenhuntly and Patterson on the Frankston line. Those will be tunnels because unlike the others there is the room to construct it. It’s fortunate in the case of St.Albans, thanks to the third platform there taking up some space leading to a limitation of business disruption that would wreck tunneling on the Dandenong line. The other point is that this work has led to a boom in construction work around Melbourne and that means jobs.

Sky Rail would lead to no disruptions to current rail services, except when it comes to the point where the project begins and ends. It will be carefully handled. we’ve seen the major disruptions on the Frankston line due to the tunneling, and I’ll bet it also happens at St.Albans and Blackburn when the time comes – with the former not just disrupting the Sunbury line but also Bendigo and Swan Hill V-Line services as well.

Objectors, I call on you to either provide proper practical alternatives – or be quiet and allow the project to progress. You are getting in the way of both an improved public transport system and improved local road traffic flow. In this day and age of getting around as quickly as possible, you are going to grind everyone to a halt. And that is worse for the community than a simple “eyesore”. Get used to it.

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