Sky rail near Parkville parkland sparks community concern
Parkville residents have sounded the alarm over an elevated rail option being proposed for the removal of the Park St level crossing near public parkland.
Eight level crossings are slated for removal along the Upfield line which would see a sky rail built, covering an entire section from Albion St, Brunswick to Park St, Parkville.
Designs for the elevated rail will start early next year and will include community consultation, with all level crossings to be removed by 2027, the state government said in its announcement on September 19.
However, Parkville Association president Rob Moore said while the removal of level crossings was welcomed, the visual impact of a sky rail at Park St would be a “major concern”, as would its impact on the flora and fauna in nearby parkland.
“We’ll be very interested in seeing the plans because we can’t see how it won’t ruin the landscape from Royal Park and we can’t see how it won’t affect the wildlife in Royal Park,” he said.
“It’s on the edge of the golf course as well so the whole topography is very difficult.”
“The other thing which I think would be a major concern to residents of The Avenue is the fact there’s apartment blocks there which are relatively close to the station and certainly there will be more noise.”
He also hoped there could be thorough community consultation and not something that was “rammed through”.
“On face value this could be another sad sight from Melbourne’s most important park.”
Friends of Royal Park secretary Kaye Oddie also voiced concern over the visual and noise impacts the sky rail would have on amenity and wildlife if the sky rail interfered with Royal Park.
“Such sky rails are highly obtrusive infrastructure, as evidenced from the level crossing removal projects undertaken so far,” Ms Oddie said.
“What is the cost benefit for a sky rail over Park St based on the traffic volumes in this street? And for this particular sky rail, there would be not much opportunity for creating new space/parkland underneath, given the particular topography.”
The eight level crossings to be removed (all of which, excepting Park St, are in Brunswick) include Albert St, Albion St, Brunswick Rd, Dawson St, Hope St, Union St, and Victoria St.
Currently, around 71,000 vehicles travel through the level crossings during the morning peak with the boom gates down for up to 30 minutes.
Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan said the level crossings were “death traps” and needed to go to make the roads safer, ease congestion, and clear the way for more trains.
If the rail corridor was to be elevated, the government said it would be a “boon” for the Upfield bike path – as being seen by communities in Coburg and Brunswick – with a new dedicated bike and pedestrian path from Bell St to Park St, “providing a safer and quicker connection for locals”.
“The project will make the Upfield bike path one of the most important bike paths in Melbourne, and a major transport connection from the north into the city,” the government said.
Community group Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc. president Fiona Bell said community consultation needed to start early as there were “more questions than answers” at this stage of the plans.
“Overall, we welcome the removal of level crossings because it makes both driving and using a train easier, but we want to know whether all these stations are being retained, whether it’s actually being elevated over the parkland, and whether any parkland or sports fields will be lost by the size of it,” she said.
She also asked, “How swiftly can the rail come down to be at ground level for Royal Park?”
Furthermore, Ms Bell did not want to see the same outcome occur like the level crossing removal at Union Rd, Surrey Hills, in which an elevated rail “took over” parkland and trees.
“We’ll certainly keep an eye on that with great interest,” she said.
When the project is complete, there will be no level crossings between Parkville and Coburg on the Upfield line. •