Suburban Rail Loop in focus: Cheltenham

Suburban Rail Loop in focus: Cheltenham
Suburban Rail Loop in focus: Cheltenham

Cheltenham, halfway along the Frankston line, one of Melbourne's longest on the existing network, a mountain of public investment has been mobilised to rebuild a station and remove two level crossings. Likewise, the gravy train of public investment won't be stopping after the level crossings are removed because Cheltenham will be the eastern (or southern, depending on which way you look at the map) terminus for the Suburban Rail Loop.

The level crossing removal program is no stranger to Urban.com.au's pages and nor is it a stranger to most Melburnians. While I accept that a level crossing removal project is most noteworthy to its respective local community, seeing where the investment is driving change is noteworthy, especially in Cheltenham's case.

Over the weekend, the Premier and Minister for Transport Infrastructure announced the Suburban Rail Loop - already flagged as terminating in the Cheltenham area over a year ago - will be an independent railway line, operating separately from the existing network but integrating with it at key interchange stations.

For the Frankston line, Cheltenham was announced back in September 2019 for the location of the new Suburban Rail Loop station its set to expand on construction work now underway in Cheltenham will result in a new station for the Frankston line sunk below the grade of the existing station. 

Cheltenham has a healthy pipeline of projects with the Urban database currently showing 28 across the entire suburb.  The majority of the projects in the pipeline are located between the Nepean Highway and the Frankston Railway line, either side of Park Road (which along with Charman Road will be removed as part of the level crossing removals underway).

Approximately half of the projects in the pipeline are located within a 500-metre walk of Cheltenham station.

Public Transport on this scale is the exact kind that goes hand in hand with accelerating the modal shift from cars as well as providing high-quality transport for people who would seek a lifestyle away from the automotive grind by living in higher-density precincts.

The municipality governing Cheltenham, the City of Kingston, already has planning mechanisms in place that have allowed the current crop of recently built and pipeline projects to proceed. Similarly, the council has shown its willingness to update plans.

In January 2018, the City of Kingston adopted a review into its Cheltenham Structure Plan which was first adopted back in 2010.  The original structure plan was devised within the policy context of Melbourne 2030 and Melbourne @ 5 Million and the findings translated into the Kingston Planning Scheme through the introduction of an Activity Centre Zone, which remains in place.

It's worth noting the January 2018 review was conducted before the State Government unveiled its Suburban Rail Loop election policy and the review only takes into account the change that will occur through the level crossing removal program.

Exact station locations for the entire Suburban Rail Loop are still to be determined - the State Government announced over the weekend that consultation will ramp up in early 2020 - however it's not outside the realms of possibility that the City of Kingston, by virtue of the Suburban Rail Loop scheduled to terminate and transport a lot more people into its own front yard, might revisit the Cheltenham structure plan once again in the next few years.

Next stop: Clayton & the Monash NEIC.

Lead image: Southbay

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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Suburban Rail Loop

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