A look at City of Darebin's advocacy in regards to expanding the Bell Street level crossing removal project

A look at City of Darebin's advocacy in regards to expanding the Bell Street level crossing removal project
A look at City of Darebin's advocacy in regards to expanding the Bell Street level crossing removal project

At its April 3rd meeting of last year, the City of Darebin released a technical and pre-feasibility study compiled by Raylink Consulting which looked at solutions for expanding the scope of the Bell Street level crossing removal project to cover 3 additional roads through the use of an elevated rail segment.

Bell Street and Bell station, as well as Reservoir Station and the myriad of roads which converge at that point, are both on the list of 50 level crossings to be removed and went through initial community consultation processes in late 2016.

Much like the work they did for Maroondah Council and the study produced for Croydon station, Raylink consulting has provided an interesting insight into early estimates of the costs of grade separation.

As the report outlines, the South Morang line has a maximum gradient of 1 in 50 (2%) and advocates for this to change, as the line no longer carries freight trains, to 1 in 40 (1.5%). 

The study compares a trench and elevated rail engineering solution to grade separate Bell Street and Oakover Road as a base case and also looks at extending grade separation to Cramer Street and Murray Road which bookend Preston Station.

A look at City of Darebin's advocacy in regards to expanding the Bell Street level crossing removal project
Possible elevated rail solution for level crossing removals at Bell & Preston stations - image: Raylink Consulting

The study ruled out a complete 'underground' solution but examined the impacts of a rail trench both as a base case (Bell Street and Oakover Road) and extended through to Preston station like in the elevated rail scenario.

In terms of costs, Raylink Consulting, with regards to the base case, found an elevated rail engineering solution would cost $135 million and a trench engineering solution would cost $204 million.

When both engineering solutions were extended to cover Preston Station and the two extra roads for grade separation, elevated rail was estimated to cost $247 million.

A rail trench was found only to be feasible if the trench continued all the way through Regent Station and up to Reservoir and that High Street in Reservoir would need to be a rail trench as well - no comparative cost was provided given the extraordinarily long scope of the rail trench in this case.  

The study also looked at grade separation options for Hutton Street and Thornbury station and while the study noted the City of Darebin did not believe this grade separation would have the same benefits as the other four level crossing removals to the north, the report finds there would be difficulty in mixing and matching different grade separation solutions up and down the South Morang line.

On its advocacy page, the City of Darebin took the view that an elevated rail engineering solution is the best fit for the area.

The evidence presented in the study clearly shows that an elevated rail bridge by far produces the best outcomes for the local community.

It is the only feasible way to remove four crossings as one integrated project. And it's the only way to future-proof Preston's rail corridor.

City of Darebin - Advocacy

The City of Darebin used this study as a submission to the Level Crossing Removal Authority.  The chosen solution and whether the scope of the Bell Street level crossing removal has not yet been announced.  

Lead image credit: Level Crossing Removal Authority

Alastair Taylor

Alastair Taylor

Alastair Taylor is a co-founder of Urban.com.au. Now a freelance writer, Alastair focuses on the intersection of public transport, public policy and related impacts on medium and high-density development.

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