Mernda Rail Project Factsheet: What we've heard
25 May 2016
Community consultation and feedback has played an important part in the development of the Mernda Rail Project. Consultation completed to date has informed the development of the project and will continue as the project moves into its next stages.
This fact sheet provides a summary of what the project team has heard so far from the community. It outlines the consultation that will take place over the next year as the project progresses through the detailed design process and into construction in 2017.
What have we done to date?
Three rounds of community engagement have taken place over the past year, each contributing to the ongoing development of the project. As the project has evolved and more information about how it could be built and where the stations could be located has become available, this information has been presented to the community for comment.
The first stage, during June to August and then November and December 2015 sought high-level feedback from the community about the proposed rail line extension to Mernda including the preferred location for a second station at Marymede or Hawkstowe. These sessions also included community feedback for the planning of the future Plenty Valley bus network.
The second stage, completed in February 2016, consisted of social research seeking more detail on the community's feelings about the project, station locations and the issues they thought needed to be considered.
This was followed in February and March 2016 with another round of community engagement where more detailed designs for the project, including the proposed alignment and station locations, were presented to the community for comment.
Over the course of this process we've talked to more than a thousand people and secured great feedback that has been very useful to the ongoing development of the project.
|Engagement type||Facts and figures|
|Community drop in sessions, workshops and pop-up information sessions||902 attendees across 26 sessions|
|Stakeholder forums||26 people from government agencies, community groups and retail|
|Presentations at Arilla Retirement Village|
|Surveys (online or printed)||2,344 responses|
|Mail outs to the community|
Community consultation indicates strong support for the project, with up to 97% of people in favour of the project proceeding and there is a preference for it to be built as quickly as possible.
Feedback indicated residents felt the project would help with traffic congestion in the area, cater for a growing population and also improve liveability in the northern suburbs through the social, educational and employment opportunities a rail line would bring. There were a large number of people who said they would use the rail line on a regular basis, including people who currently don't often take trains.
A key focus of the first two stages of engagement was the preferred location for a station between South Morang and Mernda.
Feedback was sought about the benefits and challenges of locating the station at Marymede or Hawkstowe. There were a variety of opinions on this subject, depending on the type of consultation activity people participated in.
People who completed surveys at home indicated a preference for the station to be located at Hawkstowe, which is closer to where more people live.
However people who participated in face-to-face engagement activities at information sessions and workshops preferred Marymede due to the land available for parking and its proximity to Marymede Catholic College.
This feedback was given after discussing the benefits and challenges of each site with members of the project team, including the constraints with providing large amounts of parking at Hawkstowe.
As the design developed and more detail was presented to the community, feedback about issues of importance to the community also evolved and became more detailed. Some of the key issues raised included:
Parking and traffic
Parking and traffic were regarded as highly important to the community, with the majority of people indicating that they would access the rail line by car and adequate parking was very important. Congestion on local roads, particularly Plenty Road was frequently raised.
As design work progressed, feedback about parking became more specific, including comments about multi-level parking structures and the proximity of parking to the stations. There were also concerns raised about commuter parking overflowing to residential streets and how motorists would access station car parks.
At the planned Mernda station, feedback was received that the car park north of Bridge Inn Road was too far away from the station and there should be more parking closer to the station. Comments about parking at Marymede indicated strong support for locating a car park east of the rail line in addition to the proposed car park on the western side. The proposed parking at Hawkstowe station was considered inadequate, with an additional access point from Plenty Road suggested in addition to, or instead of, access from Hawkstowe Parade.
Feedback throughout the consultation process indicated strong support for providing effective integration of bus and rail services at the stations.
Rail design and vertical alignment
As more detailed designs for the project became available, the vertical alignment of the rail line became more important to people.
Comments indicated a general preference for the rail designs to be below ground level and opposition to elevated designs. This was also the case for road crossings, with the majority of comments in support of placing rail under the road.
Reasons given for a lower rail line preference were minimising impacts of aesthetics and community character, property values, noise and safety. Those in favour of an elevated or rail over road approach supported this because of lower costs (particularly if this left sufficient funding for building both intermediate stations), preserving views and avoiding trenches that would divide the community.
Safety and security
Throughout the consultation process, safety and security at stations were highlighted as important to the community including adequate lighting of car parks as well as Protective Services Officers and security cameras.
Station features, connectivity and accessibility
Stations that blend in with the natural environment and community character were favoured, although some comments indicated a preference for a very modern design. There was broad consensus, particularly at community workshops and in surveys, that the design of Mernda station should accommodate full integration with the Mernda town centre. This included pedestrian access to shops, car parking and bus connections.
Easy access to the station for people with prams, wheelchairs, scooters and luggage was also raised as an important issue.
Early in the engagement process, environmental impacts on flora and fauna, particularly kangaroos were raised by a small number of people.
As more detail has become available, more community members have provided feedback on environmental issues. Comments included the importance of preserving existing trees, avoiding or minimising impacts on kangaroos during construction and operation and maintaining habitat connectivity along the line.
Community and stakeholder consultation will continue as the Mernda Rail Project continues to develop.
In mid-2016, we will consult with the community as shortlisted tenders develop their designs. Later in 2016 we will present the preferred tenders design for community and stakeholder comment.
Once construction begins, the project team will communicate with community members and stakeholders about construction, project progress and minimising community impacts.
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