The state government announced over the weekend that Edithvale and Bonbeach grade separations on the Frankston line would get rail under road — a little surprising given apparently challenging engineering so close to the beach.
No doubt this is politically expedient. For better or worse, that’s how democracy works sometimes, but you have to wonder how much extra disruption and cost will be incurred along the way if they have to do all that digging — though there’s no mention of property acquisition as at Cheltenham, probably thanks to the well-defined separate rail corridor on this part of the line.
One thing that strikes you about the designs is the lack of green. Perhaps this is because they’re only concept designs (they don’t properly show station buildings, for instance), but it may indicate that even if there are later plantings to beautify the area, all the current trees will be removed first.
(Some anti-skyrail protesters have aligned themselves to the worthy cause of preserving trees, but we know that in general, digging a big trench is more likely to result in tree removal, thanks to the interruptions to root systems and the desire of authorities to avoid the risk of trees falling on rail infrastructure.)
Bonbeach now vs the plan:
Edithvale now vs the plan:
Ironically the northern end of the trench at Edithvale begins right next to the Lochiel Avenue crossing. If it’s a minor road, you’d think they’d take the opportunity to close it — even with a detour, the lack of level crossing congestion would make many car trips just as fast (and certainly less prone to unpredictable delays). Perhaps that decision is yet to be made.
At Seaford Road (about 700 metres south of Seaford station), it’ll be a lower “hybrid” version of rail over road: the road will be dropped by 1.5 metres, with rail going over the top of it at a height of about 5 metres. Basically they can’t do rail under there without destroying the local wetlands.
At Skye Road, it’s rail over for similar reasons, probably made politically easier by being adjacent to an industrial area and the existing motorway overpass (which has far more impact than current skyrail designs).
Seaford Road construction starts next year, Skye Road later this year, but the Edithvale and Bonbeach will be some time off, as they will go to the Minister for Planning to determine of an Environmental Effects Statement is required.
Hopefully there is some co-ordination between all these projects. Seaford and Skye Road are in the same section of the line. Bonbeach and Edithvale are on the other side of Carrum (where trains can be terminated).
Of course there are also crossings either side of Carrum station to be done; designs haven’t been released for these, but to minimise rail disruptions, it’s critical that all these projects be timed well.
As for these ones just announced — there’s little detail as yet concerning bus interchanges, station entrances — all the things that will make or break the new stations for public transport users.
Based on the material released so far, they’re not pretty, but this may change as the plans evolve. It’d be interesting to know what the locals think.