Author Archives: John Englart

The need for Track Duplication between Gowrie and Upfield

Is there room for a 2nd track and bikepath? Camp Rd Level Crossing Removal. Photo: Kevin Balaam via Instagram

As more people move into Fawkner, indeed into Moreland and Hume muncipalities and along the suburbs served by the Upfield rail line, it becomes more imperative to upgrade the Upfield line.

The Level Crossing Removal at Camp Road will not do anything to improve the service to commuters on the Upfield line. This work has been done for improved traffic flow only. The benefit to public transport users will only come with adding dual track from Gowrie to Upfield, which would allow for an increase in service frequency and reduce a bottlenecks in the public transport line infrastructure.

Yes, there are other bottlenecks in the system such as the city loop, which the Metro tunnel line will help resolve.

So why isn’t the Andrews government and State Labor MP Frank Maguire pushing harder for upgrading the Upfield Line to dual track?

The following interchange in letters between Denis Watson of the Upgrade Upfield Committee and Frank Maguire’s office highlights the issue:
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Flood Risk to Coburg North when super storm hits Melbourne

1-in-100 flood mapping for Coburg North along Merlynston Creek

I hope you didn’t have too much planned this weekend. It might be good to stay home and see how waterproof your house is when the thunderstorms start rolling in on Friday afternoon, and are expected to keep on dumping torrential amounts of rain all weekend.

Expect flash flooding in low lying areas. Merlynston Creek at Coburg North is likely to flash flood. Take care if you live in the vicinity of the 1-in-100 flood zone for Merlynston Creek, particularly around Sussex Street and Boundary Road. Visit the SES page for Moreland Council for local Flood information.
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Upfield line passengers wait until December 18 for resumption of service due to Camp Rd Level Crossing Removal

Train services on the Upfield line have been disrupted since 15th November, from Coburg to Upfield. There is a replacement bus service, but it doesn’t provide the same utility as the train service lacking the facility for mobility scooters and to take bicycles.

Camp Road has also been disrupted, but will be reopened with the new road bridge over the Upfield line at 6:00am Thursday 30 November.

Train passengers have to continue to wait until Monday 18 December for reinstatement of train services, due to continuing track work, overhead electricity cabling.
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The journey of Kermit the Growling Grass Frog from Craigieburn to COP23 UN climate conference

Kermit introduces the Black throated finches threatened by Adani

Kermit, the Growling Grass Frog couldn’t resist the opportunity of hitching a ride in my bag to Bonn, Germany and COP23. What frog doesn’t want to see the world beyond their own wetlands? Especially when their species is declining and climate change may be an important factor determining future species survival?

Kermit was centre stage at the Fossil of the Day awards on Day 2 of the conference, when Australia received it’s first Fossil of the Day award for the Adani coal mine.

The 23rd meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 23) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – to give it it’s full title – was held from 6 to 17 November in Bonn, Germany, under the presidency of the government of Fiji, the first time that a small island nation has served in this role.

I was attending the conference along with Andrea Bunting as members of Climate Action Moreland, part of the Climate Action Network Australia, a node of the global Climate Action Network, an environmental NGO (also called an ENGO).
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Passengers forced to help themselves ‘Detrain’ on the Upfield Line

Detraining on the Upfield line from a broken down train south of Park St.

I got to experience a broken down train and the community response in helping each other off the Upfield train yesterday.

Because of level crossing removal work at Camp Road trains are only running to COBURG on the Upfield Line. Yesterday I cycled to COBURG and used the Parkiteer cage for my bike and caught the train into the city for an event. Everything was well, and I caught the 5:02 train from Flinders Street.

The problem with my train started occurring after Flemington Bridge station with the train motor seeming to sputter causing jumps. We made it past Royal Park before the engine pretty well died in fits and starts. “You can do it, you can do it” chanted someone in my carriage as the train inched forward in a few splutters of progress.
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Fawkner Festa celebrates diversity in Community

On November 12 Fawkner held it’s community festival in CB Smith Reserve. By all accounts a festive occasion with some beautiful summer weather.
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Saving native trees in the Darol Ulum College – Evans Reserve land swap

Darul Elum College – Evans Reserve landswap

I attended Moreland Council on Wednesday night. One of the items for consideration was the land swap with Darul Ulum College and Evans Reserve. Although I have no in principal objection to the land swap – council will not loose any land as part of Evans Reserve – I am concerned about the seven native trees in part of Evans Reserve that will be swapped.

One tree is located towards the north east corner of the land to be swapped, and the other six are in the south west corner of Evans Reserve.

I did get to ask a question, which prompted an addition in the land swap motion later in the meeting. An extra point was added to the motion for Council Officers in the land swap negotiations to try and ensure the seven native trees were saved as part of the deal.

So more car parking for Darul Ulum College (a good thing) but it adds to the urban heat island effect (a bad thing). Saving these seven trees is important if they can be incorporated as part of the expanded car parking, especially given the recent Urban Forest Strategy adopted by Council which stressed the importance of saving trees in the private realm.

No guarantees at this stage, but I am hoping these trees can be incorporated as part of the new car parking land in Darul Ulum College as part of the land swap deal. If not, then the College will have angered local residents.

The College needs to pull their weight when it comes to climate action, even in such a small thing as retaining seven native trees in an extended car park.

Developer to close Upfield Bike Path at Jewell station for 2 years

Artist impression: NeoMetro development to close Upfield path for 2 years from Oct 2017 to 2019

Sometimes issues in other parts of the municipality affect Fawkner residents, as well as residents of other suburbs. If you are a cyclist and use the Upfield path to commute into the city past Jewell Station this will directly affect you.

An apartment development in Brunswick next to Jewell station will close the Upfield Path for over two years.

I have checked out the NeoMetro website and the development has lots of ‘sustainable’ features including a rooftop garden and emphasises city living , and appears to emphasise pro-cycling living.

Why then does the development close down one of the major cycling arterials in the City of Moreland? And not just for a few days, or a week or two, but for two whole years?

There is something hypocritical in a supposedly pro-cycling development that closes one of the major cycling arterials in our city for two years or more.

My next major thought was how the hell did this development proposal entailing closing the Upfield Path for two years get through Moreland Council? Well, Councillors?
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Vale Helen Lee: Fawkner swim teacher, community activist, food swap co-ordinator

It is with great sadness that we heard of the passing of Helen Lee on 13th September 2017, one of the co-ordinators for the Fawkner Food Swap for the last few years.

Helen has lived in Fawkner since 2009, many of those years with her partner Rachel.

Helen was a swim teacher at the Fawkner Leisure Centre instructing children in water safety and swimming. She had previously done swim teaching at the Brunswick and Coburg Swimming Pools.

She also participated in tree and grass plantings and the bird surveys conducted by Friends of Merri Creek at Bababi Djininang at the end of Jukes Road. She was involved in a local gardening group.

Panorama of native tree planting at Fawkner -IMG_7788-IMG_7801
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Trains terminating Coburg instead of Gowrie for Level crossing removal

Sign at bus stop opposite Gowrie Station on Sydney Road

Updated 5th October: with a response from Frank Maguire MP, and response from Level Crossing Removal Authority. Update 9 October with response from Metro Trains re disability access for replacement bus service

Public Transport Victoria and Level Crossing Removal Authority have failed to explain why trains will terminate at Coburg Station instead of Gowrie Station.

Due to Level Crossing Removal activity at Camp Road trains will terminate at Coburg station from 8.30pm Thursday 26 October to the last service on Monday 30 October. A bus service from Coburg to Upfield will replace the train. This disruption will be repeated during November and December.

Unfortunately buses aren’t as friendly for wheelchair users, or for cyclists who use the train. What about people who use mobility scooters? Will they be catered for? These people are particularly negatively affected, as well as regular users of Batman, Merlynston, Fawkner and Gowrie stations.

I don’t see why trains can’t terminate at Gowrie, where there are points north of the station before the M80 bridge allowing a train to go beyond the station then come back heading to the city.
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