Opposition wants to work with government to raise cash to avoid skytrains on the Frankston line

February 22, 2016 9:00am


STATE Opposition Leader Matthew Guy has urged the State Government to work with him to “save Melbourne’s Riviera” from sky trains.

With decisions on the southern part of the Frankston rail corridor yet to be made, Mr Guy said he was “prepared to work with the government” to raise enough money via new Port of Melbourne legislation to run trains underground.

Mr Guy said talk of underground tunnelling difficulties caused by a high water table in the beachside areas was “not an excuse at all.”

“If you can put a man on the moon, you can dip a level crossing on the Frankston line,” he said.

“When they were building the CityLink tunnels, that was in one of the most geologically unsound areas in Melbourne — and yet we have two enormous tunnels which operate just fine and have for the last 15 years.

“There are absolutely no engineering studies that say it is utterly infeasible to do that.”

There are eight level crossings between Cheltenham and Frankston listed for removal, with work due to get underway in 2018.

Shadow Planning Minister David Davis joined Mr Guy at Edithvale Station last week, along with South Eastern Metropolitan Region MP Inga Peulich, Kingston Central Ward councillor Geoff Gledhill and concerned community members, to discuss the crossing removals.

Mr Guy said the opposition’s offer to work with the State Government was the “first time you’ve seen an opposition do this for decades in Victoria”.

He said if the State Government could “present a sensible piece of legislation” on the Port lease, he would “be happy to tie that sale to putting level crossings underground”.

State Treasurer Tim Pallas told Leader that Mr Guy’s comments were being made from “a position of ignorance”, and the State Government has always been honest about there being no “magical one-size-fits-all solution” to the issue.

“Every crossing removal is different,” Mr Pallas said.

“We’re not coming to a solution with a predetermined position, people can’t rewrite history on this.”

Mr Pallas said the local consultation process will begin this week, with a removal method to be decided by mid-2016 and a “design solution” determined by 2018.

“There’s going to be at least two years of extensive consultation before that construction gets underway,” he said.

When asked the price difference between above and below-ground rail options on the Cranbourne-Pakenham line, the treasurer said “it’s not about cost”.

“I don’t believe there’s a great deal in the cost difference between these arrangements,” Mr Pallas said.

He said it’s more important that the project to be guided by “science and imaginative engineering solutions”.

Edithvale local Elsie Bradshaw, who has lived in the area for more than 45 years, said she was worried after seeing other “failed” examples of above-ground rail lines overseas.

“We definitely do not want this to happen,” Ms Bradshaw said.

“We know there’s going to be noise and a lot of disruption — we’re prepared to put up with that, that’s fine — but not with the rails going up nine or more storeys.”

Community advocate Dorothy Booth, who is also the chairwoman of the Friends of Mentone Station and Gardens, said she was concerned there wouldn’t be enough true consultation on the issue.

“One government organisation talking to another government organisation is not consultation — that’s not going to come up with the best outcome for the community,” Ms Booth said.

“If they persist with this here, they won’t be in government to complete it, because the community won’t stand for it.”

There are now several local petitions against the skyrails gaining support, including one from the Carrum and Patterson Lakes Forum and another from the office of Inga Peulich.

Source: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/inner-south/opposition-wants-to-work-with-government-to-raise-cash-to-avoid-skytrains-on-the-frankston-line/news-story/86e0f6bf4df22b9b42ca08fbd5962ec7