More detail needed on sky rail

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CONSULTATION about options to separate road from rail at level crossings along the Frankston line has begun with a series of drop-in sessions held in suburbs along the rail line this month from Cheltenham to Frankston.

Staff from the Level Crossing Removal Authority (LXRA), including engineers, were on hand to begin the process of talking to affected communities about possible design plans to remove level crossings including concern about the visual and noise impact of elevated rail along parts of the Frankston line.

Opponents of elevated rail, dubbed sky rail, were unimpressed with the lack of detail on offer at these initial community consultation sessions.

No Sky Rail: Frankston Line group spokesman Willem Popp said the LXRA sessions were “warm and fuzzy” without answers being available.

“It was designed to keep us happy but not give any answers,” he said.

“They were biased towards sky rail in all the material on display. It was all very much anti-underground solution and pro-sky rail solution.”

Visitors to the LXRA consultation sessions could leave post-it notes on maps showing where level crossings will be removed.

“The comments left on the post-it notes on the maps and the signs were overwhelmingly against sky rail in way, shape or form.”

The Carrum and Patterson Lakes Forum group, a community group that speaks to politicians and council about local issues, is also worried about the impact of elevated rail on suburbs along the Frankston line.

Group spokesman Cameron Howe attended consultation sessions and said a lack of answers about engineering logistics at this stage is baffling.

“The consultation process is not transparent and it appears that the authority is making changes on the fly which is of concern as it will impact the end result and ultimately the lives of many people,” he said.

LXRA project director Adam Maguire said there had been “a great response” to the first round of community consultation sessions with more than 1500 people making the effort to go along to speak with staff about level crossing removals.

“There will be two further opportunities in 2016 for the community to provide feedback, the first in mid-year when the feasible design options are presented, and the second at the end of the year on recommended designs,” Mr Maguire said.

Feedback on level crossings removal plans can be left online via a Social Pinpoint tool on the LXRA website targeting comments at specific locations along the Frankston line.

The authority will release options for level crossings removals in mid-year so it will become clear whether sky rail is an option for the Frankston line at that point.

A final “recommended option” for the Labor state government to consider will be announced by the LXRA at the end of this year.

This project is expected to go to tender in 2017 and construction will begin in 2018.

“The LXRA can dress this up any way it wants and the government can choose the solution it wants but it will be at its own peril,” Mr Popp said.

“The community is dead against sky rail.”

First published in the Mornington News – 29 March 2016 

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