We’ve been out in the community talking with people about the proposed designs for the Caulfield to Dandenong rail corridor. Throughout the course of the consultation process, we’ll be posting up any common queries and concerns that may exist regarding the project. These are based on the questions we have been asked as we continue to consult with local communities.

Local questions

Will Hughesdale Station and Murrumbeena Station be joined to create a "Super Station" when longer trains are introduced?

No. The project will be rebuilding Hughesdale Station slightly closer to Murrumbeena Station, on the opposite side of Poath Road. However, Hughesdale and Murrumbeena stations will remain as two separate stations. The platforms at each station will be long enough for the new high capacity trains that are on order.

Will you continue to run diesel trains on the old tracks underneath the new rail line?

The new elevated structure will be designed to safely carry both Metro passenger trains and diesel freight trains. Just as passenger and freight trains share tracks currently, they would continue to share tracks in the elevated design. The tracks underneath the elevated structure will be removed to create new community spaces.

Can't you just close Hughesdale Station as it is already close to Murrumbeena and Carnegie Stations?

The design is for the rebuilding and improvement of Hughesdale Station, not its closure. Each of these three stations provides important transport links in their local community, and there are no plans to close any of these stations.

Will there be multi-level carparks built at my local station?

There are currently no proposals to build multi-level carparks at the stations. One of the benefits of the elevated structure is that it allows for the space under the structure to be used for a number of uses, including car parking.

Will Boyd Park in Hughesdale be replaced by a multi-level carpark?

Boyd Park will not be turned into a multi storey carpark and the Scout Hall at the park will be retained. During construction of the project, Boyd Park may need to be used to access the rail corridor. This will be subject to discussions with local council, but upon completion of the project the park will remain as a community park.

Who will be responsible for the upkeep of the public open space - will this affect our council rates?

The Victorian Government has committed to fund both the development and long-term upkeep of the 11 MCGs worth of new open space that will be created by this project. Discussions will be held with local councils and community groups to finalise the ownership and ongoing management of these additional facilities, however the Victorian Government has committed to funding their maintenance.

What will be done about any graffiti, litter or anti-social behaviour that might occur?

We've heard that a number of people are concerned about how open space underneath the new structure might be properly maintained. At the moment much of the rail corridor is unused, and graffiti can be seen on a number of fences and other surfaces. The new open spaces create both an opportunity and a responsibility for these areas to be maintained and looked after appropriately.

This can be done in a number of ways. As part of the resident and community consultation, the project team sought feedback on community initiatives such as community paintings. In the Murrumbeena area, some community members have suggested the artwork should pay homage to the area's rich history of artists. In addition, the pylons will be painted with anti-graffiti paint which makes it more difficult to graffiti the surfaces.

We will continue working with residents and councils to find ways to address concerns around graffiti and other issues. 

What are the main reasons for not going under/open cut trench?

At each site, every level crossing removal option was considered by the expert team, including digging open cut trenches in the corridor to put the rail underneath the road crossings. See our fact sheet Why Rail Over?

Will there be any overshadowing of some residential properties and parklands?

The elevated structure has been designed to maximise the amount of sunlight and rainfall that will reach the areas underneath the structures. Due to the height of the elevated rail, in some sections it will cause overshadowing of some residential properties and parklands.

The project team has been meeting with residents who live next to the rail corridor to provide information specific to their property, including showing residents a 3D model that includes details of any potential overshadowing. 

Can we save the station houses at Carnegie and Murrumbeena?

We know these station houses have significance to the local community. The feedback received on the station houses will be used to further enhance the design and guide project decision making.

Privacy screens will be in place for residential homes, can you explain what they will look like?

The new privacy screens will be translucent to ensure that light can get through. The material used will be designed in such a way that ensures people on trains cannot look down into adjoining properties. This will be achieved by patterns on the perspex-like screens that blur the view from the train as it travels past properties.

Is there a proposal for a fixed line rail connection to Chadstone Shopping Centre from Hughesdale station?

There is no proposal for a line to Chadstone to be constructed as part of the Level Crossing Removal Project: Caulfield to Dandenong. This has never been in the project's scope of works.

What are the main reasons for the relocation of Hughesdale Station to the west of Poath Road?

There are a number of reasons that Hughesdale Station has been relocated from the east to the west side of Poath Road. Relocating the station means that the elevated structure can come back down to ground level sooner between Hughesdale and Oakleigh Stations. If the station remained on the existing side of Poath Road it would mean that the elevated structure would continue for a further 150m towards Oakleigh Station. The additional length of the new station would result in longer construction times and, with that, an increased period of disruption to adjacent residents and commuters using the station. The curve in the rail corridor was also a key consideration in the decision to relocate the station.

Station design guidelines do not currently allow for a new station to be constructed on a curve (as the current Hughesdale Station is).

Have property valuations been conducted for the area? There have been conflicting reports (value go up, go down, stay the same) as to the value of nearby real estate following the completion of the elevated line and open parklands. Can you provide any more information?

The Level Crossing Removal Project has not conducted property valuations as part of the project. The effect that $1.6 billion dollars' worth of transport infrastructure investment will have in the local area is yet to be determined, however previous investments in transport infrastructure have generally seen an overall benefit for local property prices. Further, the additional of extra park and recreational facilities in communities is likely to increase the overall amenity of the local area.

General

What is the Level Crossing Removal Project: Caulfield to Dandenong?

The Level Crossing Removal Project: Caulfield to Dandenong will remove nine level crossings on the Cranbourne-Pakenham rail line between Caulfield and Dandenong. The project will also rebuild five stations at Carnegie, Murrumbeena, Hughesdale, Clayton and Noble Park.

In addition, the project will upgrade associated power and signalling along the Cranbourne-Pakenham line from Melbourne CBD to Cranbourne and Pakenham.

When will construction begin, and when will the project be completed?

Construction will begin towards the middle of 2016, and the project will be complete in 2018.

Does the project require any compulsory land acquisition?

No. This is one of the key benefits of the design.

Was there mention of elevated rail at the information sessions last year?

At the information sessions last year, the project team was considering all options for removing the nine level crossings, including both open trenches and rail-over solutions. Examples from around the world were on display at the sessions, and the feedback gathered during those sessions was provided directly to the bidders to help them develop their designs.

Have any environmental reports or expert analysis been conducted during this process to identify the benefits and/or any issues with elevated rail?

The University of Melbourne and RMIT has conducted a study on rail over solutions, while the Level Crossing Removal Authority has released a precedent study of rail over solutions around the world. 

What does the Office of the Victorian Government Architect say about this project?

The Office of the Victorian Government Architect (OVGA) has recently released a statement regarding the project, which states that the OVGA  "supports the proposed solution" for the project.

Does Infrastructure Victoria have a role to play in this project?

Infrastructure Victoria is tasked with providing a long-term, 30 year plan for future Victorian infrastructure across transport, health, education, energy, water and other essential public needs.

How many freight trains currently run on this line per day on average?

Current timetables allow for up to four freight services to run per day.

How can I give my feedback on the project from here?

Communication and consultation with community members including residents, traders and key stakeholders such as local councils will continue on an ongoing basis to address any specific individual issues or concerns, and to identify opportunities for enhanced project outcomes and benefits.

Who decides what gets built in these community spaces?

The community will continue to provide input into how the 225,000 square metres of new space will be used via the Community Open Space Expert Panel .  Feedback received during the consultation period is being used to guide project decision making regarding what facilities – such as parks, playgrounds, picnic areas or other spaces for families – should be built in each local area.

Design

How were these designs developed?

The design was developed during a comprehensive  six month tender process throughout the second half of 2015. During the tender process, the Level Crossing Removal Authority sought feedback from local communities, traders and key stakeholders in the form of community information sessions, tender advisory panels, pop-up sessions and trader workshops.  All feedback was then provided directly into the bidding teams. 

The project was put out to the market and potential builders came back with their proposals to remove these level crossings. Those proposals were then competitively evaluated against each other and the project objectives through the stages of the tender process before the preferred proponent was selected and the contract awarded. The feedback provided by communities, traders and key stakeholders has helped the designs throughout this process.

Did the Level Crossing Removal Authority consider 'rail under' in the development of these designs?

Yes, all options were open and considered, and the preferred solution was the result of an evaluation through a competitive tender process.

Now that the contract has been awarded does this mean the design has been finalised?

The contract award means that we can now progress with refining and finalising the design. 

The Government is committed to the elevated design which provides a range of benefits including reduced noise, minimal disruption to the community and 11 MCGs of new public space. There are still some elements to be finalised, including seeking the Open Space Expert Panel's advice on the design of new public spaces, and having further discussions with the community about noise walls and privacy screening.

Why are trains much less likely to derail on this elevated rail line? How does the engineering of the new structure minimise any impact of a derailment?

The designs for the new elevated structure contain a built-in derailment barrier that prevents trains from leaving the structure. In the unlikely event that a train derails, the wheels will be caught between the tracks and the concrete derailment barrier ensuring that the train grinds to a halt.

This means neighbouring properties are protected to a greater extent than with the current rail line.

Does the design allow for a third or fourth track?

Yes, the design allows for third and fourth tracks to be constructed in the future.

When the third and fourth tracks are built you will just 'fill in the gap' between the elevated structure?

The gap in the structure has been put in place to ensure that the spaces under the structure receive natural light and rain. This ensures that trees and vegetation can grow and helps ensure that the space underneath (including the pedestrian and cycling path) is more inviting.  It has not been put in place to accommodate the third and fourth track. Although the design future-proofs for the addition of a third and fourth track, this is not projected to be required for approximately 20 years, and will be subject to a separate planning, design and consultation process. 

How many car parks will be built at each of the new stations?

The exact numbers of car parks at each station is yet to be determined. The elevated structure allows for additional parking to be introduced along the corridor.

Construction

How is the project being constructed? Will there be significant disruption?

One of the benefits of the design solution is that it can be built over the existing railway lines while the majority of rail services continue to operate. While there will be some disruption at key times, the ability to construct over existing infrastructure significantly reduces the disruption to rail passengers. 

The elevated rail solution also minimises the number of trucks on the road during construction – resulting in an estimated 75,000 less truck movements than a trenched level crossing removal. Other solutions such as rail trenches would have required long term closures of the rail line and of local roads while the open concrete trenches were built throughout the corridor.

How long will it take the remove the tracks under the pylons after they are erected?

The tracks will start being removed as soon as the new elevated rail is put into operation in 2018. It is expected to take several weeks to remove the tracks, allowing construction of all ground level works including carparks and parkland to be completed during 2018.

Will there be any disruptions to rail services?

The elevated rail design minimises the amount and duration of rail line closures. However, given the scale of this project, it will be necessary to intermittently close the rail line for short periods. We understand that catching a rail replacement bus or finding alternative road routes can be inconvenient – our aim is to keep this disruption to a minimum, and build the new line as fast as we can.

I live right next to the rail corridor, what kind of impacts can I expect during construction?

We will engage directly with residents who will experience disruptions such as noise during the construction period.

Environment

Is there any opportunity to retain any existing mature trees around the rail corridor?

One of the benefits of the elevated rail design is the ability to retain trees and vegetation close to the rail corridor. By elevating the rail line, we minimise our impact to the root systems of trees, and are able to retain a significant amount of trees within the rail corridor. This includes significant river red gums that the community expressed their fondness for during the consultation process. Other solutions such as rail trenches would have required the wide-spread removal of mature vegetation to construct the open concrete trenches.

Will mature trees be planted upon completion?

We aim to protect as many existing mature trees as possible during the construction, while offsetting any loss with the provision of new trees. Other solutions such as rail trenches would have required the wide-spread removal of mature vegetation to construct the open concrete trenches.

Why do the designs not show all the existing mature trees that will be saved by this proposal even if they are being kept?

The project team is still working through an investigation into which individual trees can be retained. Once the design has been finalised, more information regarding which trees are to be retained will be available. 

Further community and resident consultation will be undertaken should the project require the removal of significant trees. 

While building major infrastructure projects can often mean the loss of some trees and vegetation, it should be noted that this elevated rail solution saves far more trees than an open cut trench design, which would require the clearing of almost all the trees along the whole rail corridor.

What are the beneficial or negative environmental impacts of this proposal?

Throughout our community consultation, the community consistently told us how important it was to save trees and vegetation along the rail corridor.

While building major infrastructure can often have an impact on trees, a significant benefit of the rail over solution is that it allows for the retention of far more mature trees compared to an open cut trench. This design also creates the opportunity to plant new larger species of trees next to the rail line, as well as in the new areas of open space that are created by this solution.

An open cut trench would require the removal of almost all the trees within the rail corridor to allow for construction. Larger species of trees could not be planted next to a trench due to safety issues associated with larger trees falling onto lowered rail tracks. In addition, any remaining trees would be significantly impacted by reduced water to their root systems caused by digging a large trench for several kilometres.

There is an added benefit in being able to keep more trees since the removal of any vegetation has a significant impact on local wildlife. In some areas the rail corridor is heavily populated by local bird and wildlife species that are of significance to the local community.

Will there be increased noise by elevating the rail?

A Preliminary Noise Report, prepared by noise and vibration experts WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, was released in May 2016. 

The majority of houses and businesses near the project corridor will experience an overall reduction in noise as a result of the plan to elevate sections of the rail line. 

Noise and vibration impacts will be reduced compared to existing conditions through the use of specific measures such as: 

  • noise walls and privacy screens to mitigate noise transfer 
  • new high-quality, continuous smooth tracks 
  • purpose-built resilient fastenings to attach the new tracks directly to the structure 
  • rubber insulators under the track to dampen vibrations 
  • design of train stations to reduce noise spill. 

We will be building the project to comply with the Victorian Government's Passenger Rail Infrastructure Noise Policy. That means that, where currently there are no requirements to protect residents against maximum noise levels, the project will be required to ensure that the levels set out in the policy are complied with.

While noise will be reduced for residents abutting the line, what will be the effect for those further back?

The project is being built to comply with the Victorian Government's Passenger Rail Infrastructure Noise Policy. This means that, where currently there are no standards for reducing noise from trains, all residents will be protected by noise mitigation when the elevated rail is built. This includes residents further back from the rail line.

Will there be a noise impact of freight trains accelerating and decelerating between Hughesdale and Oakleigh? If there is greater noise during the acceleration or deceleration, how will this be managed?

The project will continue to refine noise modelling which will consider elements such as the noise from freight trains and V/Line engines. The placement of screening will be considered as mitigation measures to offset any noise generated from trains operating in the corridor.