Mr RICHARDSON (Mordialloc) — I raise a matter for the Minister for Public Transport. The action I seek is for the minister to commence community consultations in the next few months on the Cheltenham to Frankston railway level crossing removals to better understand the needs of my community.
Recently I joined the Premier, the transport minister and the members for Carrum and Frankston to announce that an additional eight railway level crossings will be removed on the Frankston line between Cheltenham and Frankston. The removal of these crossings is part of the government’s plan to remove 50 dangerous railway crossings over eight years to make our communities safer, create space to run more trains and reduce congestion along the eastern side of the bay.
With the Kingston region anticipated to grow by 20 percent over the coming 15 years, governments at all levels need to look to the longer term to address infrastructure priorities for the future. Doing so involves stripping away short-term thinking and short-term politicking and genuinely planning for the future.
The removal of level crossings at Charman Road in Cheltenham, Balcombe Road in Mentone and Edithvale Road in Edithvale is part of the solution to these problems in the future. These level crossing removal projects go much further and provide the Victorian government and Kingston City Council with an opportunity to leverage investment and to think innovatively about how these projects can deliver even further regional benefit. After all, these projects will be some of the most substantial upgrades along the train line since the line came down to Chelsea in the early 1900s.
I note that a recent publication by Kingston City Council acknowledges the importance of the government’s eight-year commitment. It states:
The removal of these level crossings will provide improved safety, reduction in congestion and enable more frequent train services in the municipality.
The level crossing removals will help reduce traffic congestion for motorists who have to wait at boom gates and provide further opportunities for urban renewal.
The council then lobbies the Victorian government to prioritise this investment and concludes:
… the removals are not only a critically important piece of infrastructure, they are essential for the community for the next 100 years.
I wholeheartedly support the sentiments put forward by Kingston City Council about how vital these projects are. Such projects of 100-year significance do not happen overnight, and there will be challenges for our community over the coming years as we head towards construction in 2018. We will need to work together as a community on disruptions to services and changes to timetables, which are unavoidable if we are to look to the longer term and deliver the removal of these crossings. The crossings are likely to be removed as a single package of works, similar to the current packaging of the nine level crossings on the Dandenong corridor. They will improve coordination and reduce disruption to residents, motorists and train passengers.
I believe detailed community consultation and genuine engagement will be essential as we work together to get through these projects. Residents can anticipate some of the macro challenges, including the high watertable in our community, the narrow rail corridor and the proximity of the crossings to the Nepean Highway and the bay.
In conclusion I ask the Minister for Public Transport to investigate commencing community consultations in the next few months on the Cheltenham to Frankston railway level crossing projects.