Priority Level Crossing Removal Sites: Preston
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 Cramer Street, Murray Road and Oakover Road in Preston have been identified as priority sites for future removal.
About 30,000 vehicles currently travel though these Preston crossings each day. These figures are forecast to grow by about 10 per cent to about 33,000 vehicles by 2026.
The boom gates at the three sites in Preston can be down for up to 40 per cent of the 7:00 to 9:00 am morning peak, when up to 32 trains run through the crossings.
Current network plans involve increasing trains running on the Mernda line, which would mean even more boom gate downtime.
As well as causing congestion and delay, the level crossings in Preston present a safety risk. Across the three sites, there has been one serious collision 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 train stations, schools, shopping centres and other important local facilities. Level crossings at Oakover Road, Cramer Street and Murray Road are all located within about 800m of the current level crossing removal site at Bell Street in Preston.
Removing these crossings together 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 the construction of a new Preston Station.
The level crossings at High Street in Reservoir and Bell Street in Preston are also planned for removal. The removal of level crossings at Cramer Street, Murray Road and Oakover Road would take the total number of crossings removed on the Mernda line to five.
Design and next steps
Early investigations suggest the most likely design to remove each of these three level crossings would be to elevate the rail line over 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. These options would be subject to further engineering assessments and community consultation.
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