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
4 Non-Metro Werribee St Werribee Planning 2022

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

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

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
14 Metro Blackburn Rd Blackburn Completed 2017 Rail under
Coalition 2014 Labor
15 Metro Buckley St Essendon Completed 2018 Road under
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

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

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

26 Metro Moreland Rd Brunswick Planning 2020 Rail over
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
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


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
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
85 Metro Eel Race Rd Carrum Underway
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
106 Metro Boundary Rd Fawkner

107 Metro Albion St Brunswick

108 Metro Balcombe Rd Mentone Planning + Coalition pledge 2018
Rail under
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
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
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
142 Metro Wickham Rd Highett

143 Metro Kororoit Creek Rd Altona Completed 2018 Rail over
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
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


  • 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.


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.