I’m still planning on a blog post about level crossing removals / elevated rail — after digesting all the information released today on the Dandenong line crossings.
This is just a quickie to address a specific related topic: Value capture above railway lines, specifically when tracks are dropped below road level, the idea that you can develop above them, and that can pay for the level crossing removal.
I like the idea. It’s great in theory.
There have been lots of proposals to do it, perhaps the most ambitious being “Operation Double Fault“, a plan from ten years ago to deck over the entire inner portion of the Glen Waverley line.
Media House — Source: Wikipedia. I stretched this photo vertically. The original looked too squished to me.
But there are very few recent actual examples in Melbourne:
- Federation Square — a high-profile government project obviously, so I’m betting money was no object. (The total cost of the project was $467 million, apparently over four times the original estimate)
- Media House (The Age building) on Collins Street/Spencer Street — on the edge of the CBD, where land is very valuable
- Shops on Chapel Street, South Yarra — where land is valuable and retail income would be substantial
None of these three included the cost of moving the railway. This was already done (though consolidating rail lines and platforms underneath was done in conjunction with building Federation Square).
The other thing they have in common is that they were all done in inner-city or city centre areas where the cost of land is huge, which may have made them more economically viable.
Construction of the decks for Media House and Federation Square caused impacts to train services. I don’t recall if Chapel Street was the same.
Shops in Nicholson Street, Footscray were built in a similar manner, but that was in the 1920s.
Off the top of my head I can’t think of any other recent examples. Maybe someone can point to some.
So while it’s a great idea, to me it doesn’t seem that the economics stack up, at all, otherwise we’d see far more of it.