Prioritising Level Crossing Removal Sites: Pakenham
The Victorian Government has adopted a selection framework for future level crossing removals. Under the framework, crossings are prioritised for removal based on the following key principles:
Sites with a record of incidents and a high risk of incidents.
Sites with excessive delay, congestion and unreliability, caused by high train frequencies and high traffic volumes.
Sites where high train frequency significantly limits connectivity between communities and impedes access to important facilities.
Sites where there is an opportunity to increase investment efficiency and minimise disruption through leveraging delivery of other projects across the network.
Using this framework, crossings at Main Street, McGregor Road, Racecourse Road and Cardinia Road in Pakenham have been identified as priority sites for future removal.
About 63,000 vehicles currently travel through these crossings each day. That figure is forecast to grow by 12 per cent to almost 71,000 by 2026.
The boom gates in Pakenham can be down for up to 30 per cent of the 7-9 am morning peak, when up to 23 trains run through the crossings. Current network plans involve increasing trains running on the Pakenham line, which would mean even more boom gate downtime.
As well as causing congestion and delay, the level crossings in Pakenham present a safety risk.
There have been two serious collisions since 2005 and 10 near misses since 2012, when train drivers have had to take emergency action. These crossings also restrict access to important local places – making it difficult for locals to reach Pakenham Station, schools, shopping centres, a major bicycle path and other important local facilities.
Removing these crossings as a package would present significant delivery efficiencies – it would be cost effective and limit disruption to road and rail users.
The removal of these level crossings would result in a new Pakenham Station being built – making the station precinct easier to get around and creating better integration between regional and metropolitan rail services.
Nine level crossings have already been removed on the Pakenham line – with the removal of three more already in the planning or design stage.
Now, four more have been prioritised for removal, which would leave only five remaining between Pakenham and the CBD.
The Pakenham line is one of Victoria’s busiest with Metro trains, V/Line trains and freight trains all using the corridor. It is the longest metropolitan rail line in Melbourne.
Strong and continued population growth along this corridor means more vehicles are using the level crossings – increasing congestion and reducing safety.
Design and next steps
Early investigations suggest the most likely design to remove the Main Street, McGregor Road and Racecourse Road level crossings would be to elevate the rail line and new station above the road.
Using an elevated rail solution could provide significant local amenity benefits to the community, including connectivity across the rail corridor and new open space.
Early investigations suggest the most likely design to remove the Cardinia Road level crossing would be to raise the road above the rail line.
These options would be subject to further engineering assessments and community consultation.
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