Labor pledges to grade-separate Bentleigh level crossing

As I walked to the station this morning there seemed to be an unusually long tailback of cars approaching the level crossing.

I found a gaggle of reporters at the station, and shortly afterwards state opposition leader Dan(iel) Andrews showed up, with public transport spokesperson Jill Hennessy and local Bentleigh candidate Nick Staikos, to announce Labor will grade separate the Centre Road crossing if elected.

Labor pledges Bentleigh level crossing grade separation

It’s part of Labor’s scheme to remove 50 level crossings over 8 years (two terms). They had announced 40 based on the official ALCAM (Australian Level Crossing Assessment Model) risk ratings, and said they’d announce another 10 in due course… closer to the election.

Evidently the first of those ten is Bentleigh, which is slap bang in a marginal seat, though this doesn’t mean it’s not deserving — in the 2008 ALCAM list (it appears this is the most up-to-date one that has been completed), it sat at number 60. Since then, numerous others in the top 50 have been completed or funded, and there are many more still are in Labor’s first 40 — though I haven’t yet checked if they are all included.

I couldn’t stay for the full press conference (alas, I had a train to catch), but Daniel Andrews said they wouldn’t comment on costings for individual crossings, as they didn’t want to flag to contractors how much they’d be willing to pay. Costings are a hot issue — St Albans has set a record at an estimated $200 million, but some other recent, less complex, crossings have been much much cheaper — for example Middleborough Road (including a new Laburnum station) was $66 million in 2007. And the Springvale and Blackburn crossings completed earlier this year were three for $350 million, or an average of $117 million each — and you’d expect economies of scale to drive prices down if you were doing 50.

I think most locals will welcome this pledge. It’s not just traffic (including buses and cyclists) which is frequently delayed — people walking to and from the station often have to wait… though the programming of the gates sometimes sees long delays for distant approaching trains, and some people lose patience and skip around the gates.

And though it’s not as big a problem as it is at Clayton, it’s not unknown to see emergency vehicles having to wait as well.

Along with other grade separations along the line, it allows more trains to run without impacting local road traffic.

Bentleigh also has a less than stellar record for safety, with a number of fatal accidents over the years — though fewer since the pedestrian gates were upgraded. Here’s an interactive timeline created by Amy Foyster:

But the pledge raises a question: given North Road is funded to be grade separated, would Labor propose to do Mckinnon Road as well? It’s midway between them, only 800 metres from North Road, and 800 metres from Centre Road. Unless all three are done (preferably as one project, to save money and minimise disruptions) the line could resemble a roller coaster, and play havoc with the freight trains, which already have problems getting up the hill northbound into Ormond.

The local Leader newspaper is seeking comment from sitting Liberal member Elizabeth Miller on the crossing. Nothing yet.

Update 18/9/2014:

Election wrap-up

So, to summarise… Abbott govt in. But not the Labor bloodbath some expected, which is good — whoever’s in power, a good Opposition is needed to keep them in check.

Somewhat to my surprise, the only Greens lower-house member Adam Bandt is back in, as are some other independents, but the Coalition will have a lower house majority.

Senate still up in the air, but Coalition won’t control it. While I don’t subscribe to the view that the electorate collectively and strategically decides together what we’re all going to do, and votes accordingly, I do suspect a large number of people wanted Labor out but weren’t too keen on the Coalition’s policies.

In Victoria, the Greens senate candidate Janet Rice got in (having known her for years, I can tell you she’s a Good Egg), and it appears the Motoring Enthusiasts party may get a spot as well. It’ll be a few days until we know for sure.

I guess once the Feds throw their $1.5b at East-West, the State will push ahead and build it. Indeed, Premier Napthine is already claiming that somehow the vote is a mandate to build it (even though in Victoria, fewer seats went to the Coalition than to Labor).

And of course the rail tunnel (and other urban rail) is unlikely to progress anytime soon with the $75 million for planning work being withdrawn.

Anyhow, here are some pics from the last few days.

The two PM candidates:
Election 2013: Nerd vs Jock

Snickers gets into the spirit of it:
"Don't vote hungry" - sorry Snickers, a sausage is my preferred voting food.

Campaign. Ridicule policies. Hand out leaflets. Letterbox. But don’t smash windows and pretend it helps.
Smashed window at Andrew Robb's office in Bentleigh

The Libs in Melbourne, adding to the traffic:
The Libs: adding to the traffic in Melbourne #AusVotes

Long queues on Friday for pre-polling in the Bourke Street Mall:
Long queue to vote, Bourke St Mall. #AusVotes

Also spotted in the Mall:
In the Bourke St Mall: "Please don't vote for Tony Abbott." #AusVotes

One reason not to pre-poll: voting day snag… and I discovered I can count accurately from 1 to 97.
Vote [1] Sausage. (I discovered I can count accurately from 1 to 97.)

Was I the only one chuckling at the ABC’s half-baked virtual reality chamber?
I think I pressed the wrong button on the Wii.

The local Telstra Shop may need to revise their answers on the NBN
New answers required

I guess now the bright yellow Clive Palmer billboard at Caulfield will be coming down
Clive Palmer billboard, Caulfield

More party political propaganda disguised as “voting information” #AusVotes

Look, if you’re going to send around party political propaganda, you should at least have the guts to not disguise it as something else. This arrived in the mail yesterday:
Liberal party mail disguised as "Voting information"

…and inside was this:
Liberal party election material

I note that in their brochure, they’re still using the rail icon, despite repeatedly proclaiming that they will not fund urban rail.
Federal Libs still using rail icon, despite refusing to fund rail

This sort of thing is not quite as bad as their data gathering exercise with postal ballots, but still deceptive.

Seems the State Coalition are up to similar tricks, with The Age reporting today that they’re sending out letters in support of the East West road link, paid for by the Liberal Party but without any party markings.

Are the other parties doing it to? I’ve heard Federal Labor had been sending out the postal ballot letters, but haven’t seen any myself.

The @PTUA rating of the three biggest parties on transport #AusVotes

Abbott’s outright refusal to fund urban public transport (while throwing billions into motorways) hasn’t won him any friends here. Make sure your vote counts.

PTUA 2013 Federal Election brochure

Tony Abbott’s transport policy (in 30 seconds)

If you missed it in the Sunday debate, or yesterday on social media, here’s the 30 second summary of Tony Abbott’s transport policy.