PUBLIC Transport Minister Jacinta Allan visited Kingston Council last week to discuss community concerns over the possibility of sky rail along the Frankston line.
The Minister’s visit last Thursday (21 April) came after councillors voiced concerns about the state government-led community consultation process underway (‘Council along for sky rail ride … for now’, The News 13/4/15).
Community groups fear elevated rail could be built along sections of the Frankston line as part of the Labor state government’s pledge to separate road from rail at level crossing sites.
Mordialloc Labor MP Tim Richardson, who attended the meeting, asked Ms Allan to meet Kingston Council to talk about level crossings removals.
Kingston mayor Cr Tamsin Bearsley, Cr David Eden and Cr John Ronke were also present at the meeting.
“I thought it was important to go there and have a chat with council,” Mr Richardson said.
“We talked about when the options will be put forward … and some of the issues that have been teased out of community consultations.”
Kingston mayor Cr Tamsin Bearsley said the meeting “was incredibly productive”.
“We were able to pass on community concerns and advocate for a well-planned strategic approach that makes the most of this once-in-a-generation infrastructure project to deliver great long-lasting results for our community,” she said.
“The Minister confirmed in principle that the next stage of community consultation, due to take around the middle of this year, would include detailed information on different options available at each individual site including environmental impacts, engineering analysis, acoustic reports and estimated costs so our community can make an informed decision and have their opinion clearly heard and taken into account.
“Minister Allan had also been briefed by local MP Tim Richardson on the heritage issues surrounding the Mentone station and the unique sensitivities along the Frankston line due to the close proximity of Port Phillip Bay.”
At the weekend, Ms Allan said every level crossing along the Frankston line will be assessed on an individual basis to determine ways to separate road from rail at intersections.
The state government signed contracts this month to start construction “within weeks” on $1.6 billion worth of 10-metre high elevated rail on sections of the rail line between Caulfield and Dandenong.
“The approach that’s been taken on this corridor [Dandenong] is not necessarily the outcome that will be taken on the Frankston corridor and I think it’s wrong to assume that it would be,” Ms Allan said.
A Department of Transport body, the Level Crossing Removal Authority (LXRA), is overseeing community consultation on level crossing removals before options are released in June.
A final decision on how level crossings will be removed will be made at the end of this year with construction due to begin in 2018.
Cr Bearsley said council hoped to continue to work with MPs, the state government and the LXRA to “ensure our community is kept well informed and actively involved in this project”.
The mayor said councillors “have received strong community feedback opposing a sky rail option for the Frankston line”.
The LXRA is seeking feedback on level crossing removal options along the Frankston line. Respondents can drop pins on to an online map at the relevant level crossings and write comments at consult.mysocialpinpoint.com/frankston8#
See levelcrossings.vic.gov.au for further details. The deadline for submissions is Sunday 8 May.