Level crossing removal update Nov 2018

Sometimes my blog posts are like buses or trams. You wait ages, then two show up in close succession.

I wanted to get this out before the election: an update on the level crossing removals, a popular project which brings benefits to motorists, pedestrians and public transport users alike.

In 2014, Labor pledged 50 by 2022, with 20 of those to have been completed by the end of 2018. They’ve actually completed 29. (The pledge of 50 actually became 51 because Park Street in Cheltenham got added due to proximity to Charman Road.)

For this election, Labor pledged another 25 to be completed by 2025. Yesterday they finally announced the final 3 of that list; the crossings between Sunshine and the Ballarat/Geelong line junction in Deer Park.

The Coalition, by my count, has pledged 8. Some of these include crossings that were in Labor’s original list of 50, and some are in Labor’s expanded list. The only crossing pledged by the Coalition that doesn’t appear in either of Labor’s lists is Warrigal Road in Mentone.

By implication, this appears to mean that if the Coalition wins government, any crossing removals not already commenced (I count currently 17 in planning) will not happen.

Anyway, here’s the list again. I’m happy to take corrections – solid information from the parties is a little hard to find.

Rank Location Road Suburb Status 11/2018 Year Design Planning funding Removal funding Completed by
1 Metro Main Rd St Albans Completed 2016 Rail under
Coalition Labor
2 Metro Furlong Rd St Albans Completed 2016 Rail under
Labor Labor
3 Metro Bell St Coburg Planning 2022 Rail over
Labor
4 Non-Metro Werribee St Werribee Planning 2022

Labor
5 Metro Clayton Rd Clayton Completed 2018 Rail over
Coalition 2014 Labor
6 Metro Macaulay Rd (Craigieburn line) Kensington





7 Metro Bell St Preston Planning




8 Metro Glenroy Rd Glenroy Planning 2022

Labor
9 Metro Grange Rd Carnegie Completed 2018 Rail over
Labor Labor
10 Metro Cherry St Werribee Planning 2022

Labor
11 Metro Union Rd Surrey Hills Labor pledge 2018




12 Metro North Rd Ormond Completed 2016 Rail under
Coalition 2014 Labor
13 Metro Aviation Rd Laverton Underway 2020 Road over
Labor
14 Metro Blackburn Rd Blackburn Completed 2017 Rail under
Coalition 2014 Labor
15 Metro Buckley St Essendon Completed 2018 Road under
Labor
16 Metro Old Geelong Rd Hoppers Crossing Labor pledge 2018




17 Metro Mc Gregor Rd Pakenham Labor + Coalition pledge 2018
Labor: Rail over / Coalition: Rail under


18 Metro Riversdale Rd Camberwell





19 Metro Ferguson St Williamstown Planning 2022

Labor
20 Metro Lower Plenty Rd Rosanna Completed 2018 Rail over
Labor Labor
21 Metro Station St Fairfield





22 Metro Murray Rd Preston Labor pledge 2018
Rail over


23 Metro Station St Carrum Underway
Rail over

Labor
24 Metro Centre Rd Clayton Completed 2018 Rail over
Coalition 2014 Labor
25 Metro Seaford Rd Seaford Completed 2018 Rail over

Labor
26 Metro Moreland Rd Brunswick Planning 2020 Rail over
Labor
27 Metro Heatherton Rd Noble Park Completed 2018 Rail over Coalition 2014 Labor Labor
28 Metro Charman Rd Cheltenham Planning + Coalition pledge 2018
Rail under
Labor
29 Metro Clyde Rd (Berwick – Cranbourne Rd) Berwick Planning




30 Metro Toorak Rd Kooyong Planning




31 Metro Hallam Rd Hallam Planning




32 Metro Swanpool Av Chelsea Labor + Coalition pledge 2018
Rail under


33 Metro Racecourse Rd Pakenham Labor + Coalition pledge 2018
Labor: Rail over / Coalition: Rail under


34 Metro Koornang Rd Carnegie Completed 2018 Rail over
Coalition 2014 Labor
35 Metro Webster St Dandenong Labor pledge 2018
Road under


36 Metro Tooronga Rd Malvern





37 Metro Chandler Rd Noble Park Completed 2018 Rail over Coalition 2014 Labor Labor
38 Metro Station St (near Mernda Ave) Bonbeach

Closing


39 Metro Skye Rd (Overton Rd) Frankston Completed 2018 Rail over
Labor Labor
40 Metro Keon Pde Keon Park





41 Metro Gaffney St Coburg North





42 Metro Sth Gippsland Hwy Dandenong Planning




43 Metro Maidstone St (Werribee line) Altona





44 Metro Scoresby Rd Bayswater Completed 2016 Rail under Coalition 2013 Coalition ? Labor
45 Metro Webb St Narre Warren





46 Metro South Rd Brighton





47 Metro Main St Pakenham Labor + Coalition pledge 2018
Labor: Rail over / Coalition: Rail under


48 Metro High St Glen Iris





49 Metro Grange Rd Alphington Completed 2018 Rail under
Labor Labor
50 Metro Corrigan Rd Noble Park Completed 2018 Rail over Coalition 2014 Labor Labor
51 Metro Maroondah Hwy Lilydale Planning / Coalition pledge 2018




52 Non-Metro Fitzgerald Rd Ardeer Labor pledge 2018
Road under


53 Metro Puckle St Moonee Ponds





54 Metro Cramer St Preston Labor pledge 2018
Rail over


55 Metro Centre Rd Bentleigh Completed 2016 Rail under
Labor Labor
56 Metro Prospect Hill Rd Riversdale





57 Metro Normanby Av Thornbury





58 Metro Box Forest Rd Glenroy





59 Metro Brunswick Rd Brunswick





60 Metro Hampton St Hampton





61 Metro Burke Rd Glen Iris Completed 2016 Rail under
Coalition 2014 Labor
62 Metro Poath Rd Hughesdale Completed 2018 Rail over Coalition 2014 Labor Labor
63 Metro Lochiel Av Edithvale





64 Light Rail Bridport St South Melbourne





65 Metro Glenferrie Rd Kooyong





66 Metro High St Reservoir Planning
Rail over


67 Metro Hudsons Rd Spotswood





68 Metro Edithvale Rd Edithvale Planning + Coalition pledge 2018
Rail under
Labor
69 Metro Glen Huntly Rd Glenhuntly Labor + Coalition pledge 2018
Rail under


70 Metro Madden Gv Burnley





71 Metro Macaulay Rd (Upfield line) North Melbourne





72 Metro Glen Eira Rd Ripponlea





73 Metro Murrumbeena Rd Murrumbeena Completed 2018 Rail over
Coalition 2014 Labor
74 Metro Munro St Coburg Labor pledge 2018
Rail over


75 Metro Warrigal Rd Mentone Coalition pledge 2018
Rail under


76 Light Rail Railway Av (Swallow Ave) Port Melbourne





77 Metro Chelsea Rd Chelsea Labor + Coalition pledge 2018




78 Metro Mc Kinnon Rd McKinnon Completed 2016 Rail under
Labor Labor
79 Metro Argyle Av Chelsea Labor + Coalition pledge 2018
Rail under


80 Metro Highett Rd Highett





81 Metro Mountain Hwy Bayswater Completed 2016
Coalition 2013 Labor ? Labor
82 Metro Mont Albert Rd Mont Albert Labor pledge 2018




83 Metro Devon Rd Pascoe Vale





84 Metro Bondi Rd Bonbeach Planning + Coalition pledge 2018
Rail under
Labor
85 Metro Eel Race Rd Carrum Underway
Closure
Labor
86 Metro Westgarth St Northcote





87 Metro Victoria Rd Fairfield





88 Metro Bay St North Brighton





89 Metro Station St Seaford





90 Metro Marshall St Ivanhoe





91 Metro Heatherdale Rd Ringwood Completed 2017 Rail under
Labor Labor
92 Metro Bear St Mordialloc





93 Metro Champion Rd Newport





94 Metro Armstrongs Rd Seaford





95 Non-Metro Grant St (Parwan Rd) Bacchus Marsh





96 Metro Dawson St Brunswick





97 Metro Park St Parkville





98 Metro Bedford Rd Ringwood





99 Metro Lincoln Pde Aspendale





100 Metro Anderson St Yarraville





101 Metro Gaffney St Pascoe Vale





102 Metro O Hea St Coburg





103 Metro Maidstone St (Altona Loop) Altona





104 Metro Station St Beaconsfield





105 Metro Park Rd Cheltenham Planning + Coalition pledge 2018
Rail under
Labor
106 Metro Boundary Rd Fawkner





107 Metro Albion St Brunswick





108 Metro Balcombe Rd Mentone Planning + Coalition pledge 2018
Rail under
Labor
109 Non-Metro Station Rd (Mt Derrimut Rd) Deer Park Labor pledge 2018
Rail over


110 Non-Metro Oak St Bendigo





111 Metro Paschke Cr Epping





112 Metro Arthurton Rd Northcote





113 Metro Oakover Rd Preston Labor pledge 2018
Rail over


114 Non-Metro Humffray St Ballarat





115 Metro Arden St North Melbourne





116 Metro Regent St Preston





117 Metro Dublin Rd Ringwood East





118 Non-Metro Moorooduc Hwy (Mc Mahons Rd) Frankston





119 Non-Metro North Shore Rd (Station St) Corio





120 Metro Greville St Prahran





121 Metro Parkers Rd Parkdale





122 Light Rail Beach St Port Melbourne





123 Metro Maddox Rd Newport





124 Metro Brunt Rd Officer





125 Metro Ruthven St Macleod





126 Metro Progress St Dandenong South





127 Metro Park St Moonee Ponds





128 Metro Heyington Av Thomastown





129 Metro Reynard St Coburg Labor pledge 2018
Rail over


130 Metro Melton Hwy Sydenham Completed 2018 Road over
Labor
131 Metro Station St Aspendale





132 Metro Station St Officer





133 Metro Church St Brighton





134 Metro Mc Donald St Mordialloc





135 Metro Manchester Rd Mooroolbark Planning / Coalition pledge 2018




136 Metro Victoria St Brunswick





137 Metro Abbotts Rd Dandenong South Completed 2018 Rail over
Labor
138 Metro Abbott St Sandringham





139 Metro Ramsden St Clifton Hill





140 Metro Settlement Rd Thomastown





141 Metro Thompsons Rd Cranbourne North Completed 2018 Road over
Labor
142 Metro Wickham Rd Highett





143 Metro Kororoit Creek Rd Altona Completed 2018 Rail over
Labor
144 Metro Neerim Rd Caulfield Labor + Coalition pledge 2018
Rail under


145 Non-Metro Separation St North Geelong





146 Non-Metro Lara Lakes Rd (McClelland St) Lara





147 Metro Barry Rd Upfield





148 Non-Metro Robinsons Rd Deer Park Labor pledge 2018
Road under


149 Metro Union St Brunswick





150 Non-Metro Calder Park Dr Calder Park





151 Metro Childs Rd Epping





152 Non-Metro School Rd Corio





153 Metro Camp Rd Broadmeadows Completed 2018 Rail under
Labor
154 Non-Metro Hopkins Rd Truganina





155 Metro Greens Rd Dandenong South Labor pledge 2018
Rail over


156 Non-Metro Sisely Av Wangaratta





157 Non-Metro Yarra St South Geelong





158 Non-Metro Arundel St Benalla





159 Metro Hutton St Thornbury





160 Metro Hope St Brunswick





161 Non-Metro Windermere Rd (McIntyre Rd) Lara





162 Metro Yarralea St Alphington





163 Metro Main Hurstbridge Rd Diamond Creek





164 Non-Metro Thompson Rd North Geelong





165 Metro Woolton Av Thornbury





166 Non-Metro Lloyd St (Waterloo Rd Cros) Moe





167 Metro Cemetery Ent Hadfield





168 Metro Hilltop Rd Upper Ferntree Gully





169 Metro Bakers Rd Coburg





170 Non-Metro Nunn St (Midland Hwy) Benalla





171 Non-Metro St Georges Rd Corio





172 Non-Metro Mc Killop St Geelong





173 Non-Metro Ashby St Trafalgar





174 Metro Beavers Rd Northcote





175 Non-Metro Station Rd / Exford Rd Melton South





176 Non-Metro Coleman St Warragul





177 Non-Metro Faithful St Benalla





178 Non-Metro Gap Rd (Station St) Sunbury Labor pledge 2018




179 Metro Latrobe St Cheltenham





180 Light Rail Inglis St Port Melbourne





181 Metro Poplar Rd Royal Park





182 Non-Metro Tramway Rd Morwell





183 Non-Metro Nar Nar Goon – Longwarry Rd Nar Nar Goon





184 Metro Coolstore Rd Croydon





185 Metro Cardinia Rd Pakenham Labor pledge 2018
Road over


186 Non-Metro Edgars Rd Little River





187 Non-Metro Coburns Rd / Rees Rd Melton South





188 Metro Giffard St Williamstown





189 Metro Alpine St Ferntree Gully





190 Non-Metro Station Rd Gisborne





191 Metro Millers Rd Altona





192 Non-Metro Wood St (Fyans St/Carr St) South Geelong Geelong rail duplication project




193 Metro Manns Crossing Thomastown





194 Non-Metro Hamilton Hwy Cressy





195 Light Rail Bridge St Port Melbourne





196 Non-Metro Swanston St South Geelong





197 Non-Metro Calder Hwy Diggers Rest





198 Non-Metro Hope St (Bunyip – Modella Rd) Bunyip





199 Non-Metro Baxter – Tooradin Rd Baxter





200 Metro Union St Windsor





201 Non-Metro Parker St Castlemaine





202 Metro Linacre Rd Hampton





203 Non-Metro Stony Point Rd Bittern





204 Metro Charles St Northcote





205 Non-Metro Station Av Heathcote





206 Metro Dendy St (New St) Brighton





207 Metro Albert St Brunswick





208 Metro Pier St Altona





209 Non-Metro Barwon Heads Rd Marshall Road duplication project




210 Metro Wattletree Rd Eltham





211 Non-Metro Wests Rd Manor





212 Non-Metro Birkett St Euroa





213 Non-Metro Eramosa Rd West Somerville





214 Non-Metro Kernot St Spotswood





215 Metro New St Hampton





216 Non-Metro Bank St Avenel





217 Non-Metro Kilgour St Geelong





218 Non-Metro Broadford – Epping Rd Wallan





219 Non-Metro Leakes Rd Rockbank





220 Non-Metro Knight St (Andrew Fairley Av) Shepparton





221 Non-Metro Francis St Yarraville





222 Non-Metro Wahgunyah – Wangaratta Rd (Three Chain Rd) Bowser





223 Non-Metro Robinsons Rd Frankston South





224 Non-Metro High St (Hume Hwy) Wodonga





225 Non-Metro Cowslip St Violet Town





226 Non-Metro Troups Rd Nth Rockbank





227 Metro Grieve Pde Altona





228 Non-Metro Marshalltown Rd Marshall





229 Non-Metro Mollison St (Kyneton-Trentham Rd) Kyneton





230 Metro Civic Pde Altona





231 Non-Metro Witt St Benalla





232 Non-Metro Bank St Traralgon





233 Non-Metro Creswick Rd (Midland Hwy) Ballarat





234 Non-Metro Barwon Tce South Geelong





235 Non-Metro Hayes St Shepparton





236 Metro Camms Rd Cranbourne Labor pledge 2018
Road over


237 Non-Metro Lochs Creek Rd Trafalgar





238 Non-Metro Shady Creek Rd Yarragon





239 Metro Diamond St Eltham





240 Non-Metro Frankston – Flinders Rd (Graydens Rd) Hastings





241 Non-Metro Sandford Rd Wangaratta





242 Non-Metro Canterbury Rd Lara





243 Non-Metro Benalla – Yarrawonga Rd Benalla





244 Non-Metro Kelly St Wodonga





245 Non-Metro Lardners Track Warragul





246 Non-Metro Golf Links Rd Baxter





247 Metro Cave Hill Rd Lilydale





248 Non-Metro Station Ent Seymour





249 Non-Metro Mc Diarmids Rd Violet Town





250 Non-Metro Reserve Rd Grovedale





251 Non-Metro Goulburn Valley Hwy Murchison East





252 Metro Wilson Rd Wattle Glen





253 Non-Metro Western Hwy (Barkly St) Ararat





254 Non-Metro Telephone Rd Trafalgar





255 Non-Metro High St Dimboola





256 Non-Metro Donnybrook Rd Donnybrook





257 Non-Metro Osburn St Wodonga





258 Non-Metro High St Seymour





259 Non-Metro Cochranes Rd Wodonga





260 Non-Metro Mornington – Tyabb Rd Tyabb





261 Non-Metro Melrose Dr Wodonga





262 Non-Metro Gardner and Holman Rd Drouin





263 Non-Metro Glenelg Hwy Westmere





264 Non-Metro Lake Rd Stawell





265 Non-Metro Somerville Rd Brooklyn





266 Non-Metro Frankston – Flinders Rd (HastingsRd) Somerville





267 Non-Metro Queen St Colac





268 Non-Metro Fryers St Shepparton





269 Metro Ascot Vale Rd Newmarket





270 Non-Metro Stawell – Warracknabeal Rd Glenorchy





271 Non-Metro Nolan St Bendigo





272 Non-Metro Nagambie – Locksley Rd Locksley





273 Non-Metro Shanley St Wangaratta





274 Non-Metro Kennedy St (Koo Wee Rup – Longwarry Rd) Longwarry





275 Non-Metro Northern Hwy (Mary St) Rochester





276 Non-Metro Forest St Wendouree





277 Metro Railway Rd Eltham





278 Metro Evans Rd Lyndhurst Labor pledge 2018
Road over


279 Non-Metro Anakie Rd Bell Park





280 Non-Metro Hillcrest Rd Frankston





281 Non-Metro High St Hastings





282 Non-Metro Bungaree – Wallace Rd Wallace





283 Non-Metro Rutherglen – Springhurst Rd (Cannings Crossing) Springhurst





284 Non-Metro Surf Coast Hwy (Torquay Rd) Grovedale Geelong rail duplication project




285 Non-Metro Down St Longwood





286 Non-Metro Tylden – Woodend Rd Woodend





287 Non-Metro Nelson St Bendigo





288 Non-Metro Tynong Rd Tynong





289 Non-Metro Wimmera Hwy Murtoa





290 Metro Allendale Rd Diamond Creek





291 Non-Metro Madden St North Kaniva





Notes:

  • Apologies for any errors; this update was done in haste. Let me know any corrections.
  • As with my previous posts on this, this is based in the old 2008 ALCAM list top 300, however this time I have focused on the period since the November 2014 election, so any crossings removed before that are excluded, and the ranking number has been updated to reflect that.
  • I’ve based the status on party pledges plus LXRA statuses for projects already underway/in planning. I’ve listed any project where the boom gates are gone but there are ongoing works as “Completed” — not strictly true, but simpler to understand.
  • While the ALCAM list is old, it remains the last publicly available list of level crossings. The State Government recently published some information on site prioritisation, but it includes no detail of the remaining crossings or how they’re ranked.
  • Most of the top 50 from the old list are now gone or expected to be removed by 2022 if Labor is re-elected (remembering that some were removed prior to 2015). The top-ranking crossing is at Kensington Station on the Craigieburn line – potentially a difficult site from an engineering perspective.

What happens next? That depends on who wins Saturday’s election.

Update 9am. The Coalition pledged some other Frankston line crossings, though it’s not clear if this includes all those Labor has pledged in 2018, or just those previously planned. There seems to be no official policy info on this. I will update the list later today. Any other corrections? Leave a comment!

Update 12:30pm. List updated from feedback, thanks. Keep it coming.

26/11/2018 7:30pm. Updates again, thanks.

State election 2018

It’s state election day this Saturday, though many people have already voted:

Anyway, here are some ramblings from me.

How to vote

I’m not going to tell you how to vote, but I will tell you how to vote.

1. Think about the issues that matter to you, and look at what the candidates/parties are pledging.

2. Decide for yourself where your preferences will go.

Lower house: Fill every box according to your wishes, not the How To Vote cards. Remember, you can safely vote [1] for a minor party, and not waste your vote, because your preferences will end up with one of the majors. This cartoon explains it nicely.

Upper house: Never, ever vote above the line. You don’t want your preferences going to mystery places, and being harvested to elect some extremist micro-party. Always vote below the line. You only have to fill the first five preferences if you don’t want to do more.

Who’s who in the zoo

Some of the minor parties you might not have heard of, or might not know where they’re from, or what their key issue is. Many are centred around specific issues. Here’s my brief summary.

There’s another frank and fearless assessment of the micro-parties in this Twitter thread from André Brett, or in more detail on his blog.

This blog also has some good information. And another quicker take from former Fairfax journo Jill Stark.

Or for something with a bit more meat, here’s ABC’s summary.

Transport

The PTUA has a scorecard (summary: Greens better than Labor, Labor better than Coalition).

Bicycle Network also ranked the parties this way, and they have a detailed scorecard.

Energy and climate change

Environment Victoria has a scorecard. They’ve gone ballistic in distributing this in marginal seats. We’ve seen their volunteers at the railway station and in the shopping strip multiple times, and they’re pushing it out on their social media and other channels too.

My view is that neither major party is doing enough – and it’s mostly a Federal problem, not a State one.

At a State level, both sides are playing politics, as one would expect, but at least Labor’s policy of subsidised panels will clearly achieve more use of solar.

The Coalition emphasises affordable power, but given the level of subsidies to fossil fuels, and the emergence of effective large-scale battery systems that seem to be contributing to stabilisation of the grid, I’m not convinced that clean means unaffordable and unreliable.

This interview on Sky News last night is amusing:

…By the way, people that know about this stuff tell me that “baseload” is a crock. What’s important is despatchable power — that can be put into the grid when it’s actually needed.

New battery technology seems to have revolutionised this. You can now combine renewables, whose energy generation varies with the weather, with large battery installations, which together enable power to be fed into the grid to keep it stable as demand and supply elsewhere rises and falls.

This is far better than coal which is near-constant, day and night, except for when they fail. In other words, baseload is not flexible.

More reading: Baffled by baseload? Dumbfounded by dispatchables? Here’s a glossary of the energy debate

Watching the state election count, 2014

Local issues in Bentleigh

In 2010 we knew the seat was marginal when then-premier John Brumby showed up at a nearby polling booth.

In 2014 we knew the seat was still marginal when I was greeted at the polls by the Labor candidate with “Hello Daniel! Meet Bill Shorten!”

Since then, three level crossings are gone (Bentleigh/McKinnon/Ormond). Labor deserves credit for making this happen, even if it was piggybacking off Coalition planning and funding for the Ormond crossing that had already occurred.

Labor is pledging yet more crossings to remove. The Libs aren’t – they want to do road intersections instead, which is a terrible idea. But they have pledged some level crossing removals. Both sides have pledged Glen Huntly, which more than any other on the Frankston line, delays every train.

Labor’s also pledging a new bus route, from Moorabbin along Tucker Road and East Boundary Road (the connection between them seems a little unclear) to Murrumbeena and Chadstone.

Other pledges, from either side, to fix buses and trams (anywhere in Melbourne) are pretty scant.

If I had to fault Labor for anything, it’s the redshirts affair. What a stupid thing to (allegedly) do, risk everything, and jeopardise trust, for such a lousy return (which they’ve now paid back anyway).

Both sides are pledging upgrades for local parks, schools and kindergartens.

The Coalition is pledging to convert the Dingley Bypass into a freeway, and grade separate road intersections at Warrigal/South Roads and Nepean Highway/South Roads, which risks making them unusable for pedestrians and cyclists, and will inevitably make South Road traffic far worse than it already is.

I personally find the claims about out-of-control crime to be unconvincing. ABC Fact Check looked into the statistics, and that’s well worth a read.

Pledges from both sides (Labor, Liberal) to replace the scoreboard at Bentleigh Reserve. This makes no sense to me, because it’s only 8 years old. A new fully electronic scoreboard will probably have more capabilities, but the current one appears to do an okay job at showing football and cricket scores. Hopefully the old one can be handed down to another oval somewhere.

If only more seats were marginal.

Anyway, enough of my rambling. Check the parties, policies, pledges, candidates. Know who and what you’re voting for.

If you haven’t already, vote carefully, and enjoy your democracy sausage!

Low bridges in Euroa

Family business took us to Euroa on Saturday.

The station is on the western side of the town centre. The main street goes over the railway line to the south of the station — Wikipedia notes that the the road overpass was built in 1960 during the first round of standardisation. The second round, last decade, converted the other track to standard gauge as well.

North of the station the railway line is elevated… but not by much.

One bridge has 2.5 metres clearance, and this one has just 2.3 metres:
Euroa railway bridge over road

Euroa railway bridge over road

There’s also a pedestrian underpass that’s even lower – only just a bit higher than me, so about 2.0 metres. An adult wouldn’t be able to ride a bike through here.
Euroa railway pedestrian underpass

Unlike the Montague Street bridge in Melbourne (3 metres clearance), a quick search finds no records of collisions with the Euroa road bridges.

I mentioned the Euroa bridge on Twitter. I was pointed to a 2 metre clearance on a freeway overpass in Pyrmont, Sydney, and also this 1.7 metre railway bridge in Wales — just high enough to fit a conventional car, with a manually-operated part time level crossing adjacent for taller vehicles — amazingly, not too long ago something similar was proposed for the Dandenong line!

Decarbonising my home

While my most pressing home renovation need is the bathroom (planning to do this the next time my sons are away on a trip), I was also thinking:

Governments should be doing a lot more on climate change, but what are the major emissions in my home, and how could I decarbonise?

The car. I recently bought a petrol car, because given how little I drive, I couldn’t justify the cost of hybrid or electric, and with brown coal power generation, electric cars arguably just move emissions from the tailpipe to elsewhere. Hopefully by the time this car is replaced, most electricity (certainly in my house) will be green and electric vehicles will be more affordable. So let’s leave the car aside just for the moment.

In the house itself, several of the appliances involved are quite old and inefficient, and may need replacing anyway in coming years. So there’s an opportunity to move away from gas (unavoidably fossil fuel) to electricity (which can be renewable).

Gas central heating — this system is more than 20 years old, and not very efficient by modern standards. Maintenance also seems to be increasing.

Current thinking seems to be that split system air-conditioners are more efficient than has central heating, particularly from electricity from renewable sources.

There’s a cost there of course — each area of the house would need a new unit fitted. I got one for the main living area a year ago for cooling, which is the other obvious benefit of installing them.

Good insulation also helps. I’ve done the roof, and we have external blinds for summer, as well as ceiling fans, but wall insulation is worth doing too.

My ancient stove

Gas cooking — my ancient gas cooker still works around 90 years after it was installed. It’s got minor problems though with gas leakage, and both the oven and cooktop are small and lack precision. We’ve learnt to live with this, but modern facilities would be nice – for instance an oven that’s big enough to cook multiple pizzas.

Replacing these with electric could be the way to go. Electric cooktops can be induction or ceramic — I like the sound of induction, though that may require replacing some of my cookware.

Gas water heaterten years ago I got solar hot water with a gas booster. It’s worked well, though a bloke who came recently to clean the panel mentioned that parts are likely to need replacing before too long — perhaps in the next five years.

Options might include a conventional electric hot water heater (expensive to run) or a heat pump, which can be expensive to install (up to about $3000), but are apparently quite cheap to run. Though come to think about it, I think I paid about $4000 for the solar hot water system.

Solar panels on a roof in Bentleigh

Electricity — currently I pay for green power, but an obvious upgrade would be to invest in PV panels, which have dropped in price markedly, and the new subsidies make it more affordable, even if the feedback tariff isn’t very high anymore.

One benefit of removing the solar hot water would be making more space on my relatively small roof for more PV panels. Some owners of houses with a small roof have been quite creative about maximising the number of panels – see photo above.

There are also different options for PV panels, which some expensive ones generate more power — and of course one can install batteries to make use of the power generated rather than feeding it back into the grid (typically during the day) and having to buy it back at peak times (typically in the evenings). Batteries are really expensive though, well over $10,000 it seems.

Can rooftop solar generate enough power at the hottest part of the day to run air-conditioning?

I also need to keep in mind future development around me. My neighbours on the western side have rebuilt their house as two storeys, reducing sun onto the roof in the afternoon. If the same happened on the eastern side I wouldn’t be surprised — there’s been a lot of similar development in my street.

Put all these things together, and (for a cost) I could move off gas completely, and move most of my power generation to solar, cutting my household emissions to hopefully near zero.

I’m sure I’m not the only one pondering these issues. What are other people doing?

Melbourne’s station parking problem

Melbourne’s rail network already has some huge car parks, up to 1000 spaces at some stations, as many as a medium-sized shopping centre. There are more than 40,000 spaces across the Metro network, and thousands more on V/Line. Unlike in some cities, they’re all free.

The common complaint is that all station car parks fill up between 7 and 8am each weekday.

Presumably because car parks are so visible and politically popular, the politicians love building more. Here’s Labor’s pledge:

The problem is that building big suburban car parks is not an efficient way to get more people onto public transport.

  • It takes away valuable land around stations
  • It adds to local traffic congestion
  • It undermines more efficient alternatives by slowing down buses and trams, and making walking and cycling less pleasant
  • It requires that users can drive and have a vehicle that want to leave there all day, meaning it’s expensive for commuters
  • Like all solutions involving individual motor vehicles, it doesn’t scale due to the space required
  • It’s really, really expensive. The 1600 planned spaces for western suburbs stations will cost an average of $14,000 each, but at Tarneit it’s an eye-popping $37,500 per space (presumably multi-storey).
  • And worst of all, it’ll STILL be full by 8am (because demand always outstrips supply — Tarneit is a station that didn’t even exist 4 years ago, and it already has 1000 spaces) — so it won’t actually fix the problem
  • This means it only caters for (some) peak commuters, and undermines the efficiency of the whole train system by providing poor access for the rest of the day

I’m not going to tell you to vote for the other guys, because they want to do the same thing.

For example the Coalition has pledged $30 million for an additional 450 spaces, an amazing $66,000 per space. That’s about 7,600 daily fares, or more than 30 years of Monday to Friday commuting — almost 40 years if using a Yearly fare.

It’ll never even come close to recouping its costs. How is this seen as a sensible investment?

The Greens notably have policies around better buses, rather than more car parks, but are unlikely to be running the government anytime soon.

Sure, bigger car parks will get a few more people onto trains, but it’s far from the most efficient way of doing it. What about finding a method that’s cheaper, causes fewer problems, is more scalable, and doesn’t assume train passengers have a car?

Tarneit station

Park and ride has its place. It’s appropriate for urban fringe areas where land is cheap and not suited to other uses such as residential or commercial development, walking and cycling distances for people are too far, and density doesn’t support good bus services.

Perhaps it’s time to consider applying a small fee to help offset the cost and discourage those with alternatives, combined with a rebate for those driving to the station from areas with no other options?

There is one arguable benefit from big car parks at stations that someone well-connected pointed out to me the other day: it’s a method of land banking for future development.

Elsternwick might be an example. Some years ago, the decades-old ground level parking got converted to multi-storey, freeing up space for apartments and retail. I don’t think the retail has been a raging success, but the theory is good… though in practice, given the cost of multi-storey, I’m not surprised it doesn’t happen very often.

Alternatives to driving to the station

The mystery to me is: in suburban areas, when the walking/cycling and bus options are all crap, but could be viable with a little more investment, how come the answer from both sides is always “spend $$$ on more parking”, given it doesn’t solve the problem, and creates others?

“But Daniel, nobody wants to use the bus”. Nope, completely untrue. Here’s a crowd at Tarneit who are more than willing to catch a bus home, but they’re left waiting. Route 167 only runs every half-hour. Apparently the solution is to pay millions to get them to drive to the station instead.

Tarneit station bus stop

“But Daniel, most people drive to the station!” No they don’t. Even in zone 2, a minority of people drive to the station.

The stats for 2013-14 show 27.9% of weekday access to stations (excluding the CBD) was by car. It was higher in zone 2, lower in zone 1, but driving to the station is a minority mode in all areas, with only some individual stations having a majority of arrivals by car.

It just looks like most people drive, because the car parks take up so much damn space.

Station access 2013-14 (PTV data)
(This graph is from the 2015 post, which used slightly older figures. Unfortunately there are no figures after 2015 showing the effects of zone changes, and none for V/Line stations like Tarneit and Wyndham Vale.)

Now, I’m not about to tell people they should go and walk along terrible unlit footpaths, or use a second-rate bus service.

People will use what’s most convenient. Remember, transport is supply-led.

But the infuriating thing is that every time the government has tried upgrading connecting buses, people have flocked to them. Even my local 703 route, which is okay during peak but very poor after the PM peak, gets a crowd every morning and every night.

703 bus arrives at Bentleigh station

Other stations with feeder buses running at good frequencies also get lots of people connecting by bus.

  • Bayside City Council is currently trialling a free commuter bus service, running every ten minutes each morning and evening peak to/from Middle Brighton station. Details

Some stations also have substantial levels of bicycle access, often outstripping capacity of bike cages. At Newport, where the Parkiteer cage is regularly full, locals resorted to the Pick My Project initiative to try and get another one… it wasn’t selected. Given one cage storing 26 bikes takes the space of about 2 cars, and is something like an eighth of the cost, why isn’t government just routinely installing more bike parking, either cages or another design, as demand grows?

And at almost all stations, more people walk to the station than drive, despite often adverse walking conditions.

All these can be improved at far less than $37,500 per car space. Why are these modes not getting more investment?

Public transport shouldn’t require that users own a car. There are proven fixes that are cheaper, can get people to the station even if travelling after morning peak, that don’t take up lots of space around stations, and don’t contribute to local traffic congestion.

If only the politicians could see it.