Remove the delay-riddled Deer Park crossing

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Are you sick of waiting at the Deer Park level crossing for significant periods of time? Often, during the morning and afternoon peak periods, the boom gates are down for significant lengths of time, in regular cases between 25 and 40 minutes. This includes periods of up to 10 or 12 minutes when no train is either arriving or departing the platforms at Deer Park station.

Whilst drivers seek to obey road safety laws at every opportunity, through the sheer frustration, I have witnessed on countless occasions, pedestrians, rail commuters and cyclists climbing over or walking around the safety barriers while the crossing alarm is sounding and the boom gates are down. Several times, I have witnessed motorcyclists riding around the boom gates and passengers in vehicles attempting to raise the smaller boom gate by hand, allowing vehicles through, and vehicles crossing the traffic islands to seek a different route.

In 2014, it is noted that there was a 4.8 billion cut to the Regional Rail Link project, as seen here:

“Details of the ''reduction in the originally proposed scope'' of the Regional Rail Link are revealed in documents released to Fairfax Media under freedom-of-information laws. Other planned parts of the project that were cut include removal of three level crossings on the Ballarat line that will form part of the Regional Rail Link between Sunshine and Deer Park; enhancement of the primitive V/Line stations at Deer Park and Ardeer; and building a second pair of tracks between Deer Park and Sunshine stations.”

The above bolding represents what should have happened and what must happen as soon as practical. It beggars belief that the previous government cut an essential part of the project ''in order to meet the project objectives and comply with the funding agreement with the Commonwealth.” Why would any State Government sign an agreement that allows for efficiency measures midway through a project? It is illogical and backward thinking. Regional Rail Link was designed to remove bottlenecks and reduce delays by separating regional and metropolitan services travelling through Melbourne's western suburbs. Cutting the funding to this crucial area has not reduced delays, in fact, it has added to the delays. It goes against the very purpose of the Regional Rail Link, particularly, building a second pair of tracks between Deer Park and Sunshine stations.

According to my calculations, it has cost employees (drivers and train passengers) approximately $55,000 in lost wages. This clearly has a material effect on Victoria’s economy.

According to a report commissioned by Brimbank City Council’s, Unlocking the Opportunity – Transport Priorities Paper, which is an update of the Transport Priorities Paper - 2013, there has been a 34% increase of traffic along this route in the past decade.

Regarding the Station Road/Mt Derrimut Road/Tilburn Road intersection, the report notes:

“This, combined with the additional Regional Rail Link services, places greater pressure on this crossing” and “this should be included in the future Station Road duplication of this section to match the road standard to the north and south.”

Regarding the Fitzgerald Road/Tilburn Road intersection, the report notes:

“The Regional Rail Link will continue to add significant services to this crossing which will substantially increase delays.”

More generally, the report, emphasises the need for removing these Grade Level Crossings:

“The Regional Rail Link (RRL) will also increase the frequency of trains. Road traffic has increased by more than 30% along many of the arterial roads over the past 10 years. The increased number of train services, combined with traffic growth, has resulted in significant safety and congestion problems at these sites. Since 2000, there have been more than 90 reported collisions or near misses at crossings in Brimbank, including six fatalities (excluding suicides). These problems will only continue to increase given the growth in the West.”

Brimbank City Council has prioritised Station Road/Mt Derrimut Road/Tilburn Road level crossing as its 4th recommended level crossing for removal and Fitzgerald Road/Tilburn Road intersection as its 6th recommended level crossing for removal. These two reports commissioned by Brimbank City Council strengthen and highlight the strong argument and urgency that the level crossings must be removed as a matter of priority. Simply, adjusting the timetable or adding in boom gate “safety” cameras is not going to solve or improve the significant safety and congestion issues that are currently associated with these level crossings. They must be removed.

The Station Road/Mt Derrimut Road/Tilburn Road intersection is a major road for those travelling from Derrimut and Deer Park as it directly connects Derrimut and Deer Park to Sunshine. The Fitzgerald Road/Tilburn Road intersection connects Sunshine West to Deer Park, Derrimut or Sunshine. Derrimut has a population of approximately 6,000 and Sunshine West has a population of approximately 17,000 and is a booming part of the West. There has been plenty of growth in these areas over the past decade which has attracted a significant number of first-home buyers as it is currently an affordable part of the West. These level crossings stifle the growth of these suburbs and the State Government must do everything within its power to ensure that these parts of the West continue to grow and grow strongly as it is a key area to Tarneit, Truganina, and Melton.

Drivers should not be subjected to the conditions outlined above. Drivers should not have to seek an alternate route to the most practical route along Station Road/Mt Derrimut Road/Tilburn Road or Fitzgerald Road/Tilburn Road. Drivers are entitled to a safe, congestion free and practical route. The State Government of Victoria and Victoria Police are constantly attempting to send an important message to the community regarding safe driving but the incidents outlined above highlight the significant safety and congestions issues that drivers and residents are faced with every day. It is only a matter of time before there is a major collision and/or a loss of life.

Sign the petition today to remove what should have been removed in 2014.



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