Category Archives: cycling

Stuffing up Upfield Path extension with Camp Road level crossing Removal

Cemented cable ducting on the M80 rail bridge looking north

I wanted to see the Camp Road Level Crossing Removal done as per the plans presented and discussed at the community consultations. I thought this was a fairly straight forward level Crossing Removal. All they had to do was ensure facility for easily adding a shared use path (bikepath), a station at Campbellfield, and facility to upgrade to dual track.

Of course it would have been much cheaper and more efficient to upgrade to dual track during the Level Crossing Removal and do all the earth removal for the station at the same time. As well as providing a shared use path.

But it seems after the community consultation the Crossing Removal plans were changed. There is no provision for a shared use path under Camp Road whatsoever.

I visited the site on February 6 and the John Holland workers said they would be enclosing and locking off the access track that runs from Camp Road beside the railway line, across the rail bridge over the M80 to stop any pedestrian, joggers or cyclists along this track.

Even worse. The railway bridge over the M80 ring road has single track, provision for a second track and a reasonably wide pedestrian path space. The Level Crossing Removal chose to use the pedestrian pathway for electrical conduits, cementing them in, leaving a narrow path, perhaps 90 cm wide to walk over the bridge. This is most unsatisfactory. They have made extending the Upfield Path to Upfield very expensive, if not impossible, with these works.

Let’s get this straight. The Level Crossing Removal at Camp Road only benefits the drivers along this road, not the rail passengers on the Upfield line who were inconvenienced, or the people that were using the service track along the rail line and future users of a shared use path. The Level Crossing Removal appears to have actually made it more difficult to develop the Upfield shared use path in the Upfield Transport Corridor.

This is poor planning and implementation of a relatively straight forward level Crossing Removal. The planners and builders of yesteryear thoughtfully provided space for a shared use path on the M80 rail bridge, which the Level Crossing Removal Authority have utilised with no thought for future use. We have actually gone backwards with this infrastructure project…..except if you are a road user.

I was given an explicit undertaking by Kevin Devlin, CEO of the Level Crossing Removal Authority, in a letter he wrote dated 6 December 2017 as delegated from the Minister for Transport Jacinta Allen (PDF). These assurances included that the work was done to “easily accommodate future improvements to the rail line and surrounding infrastructure such as the bike path.”

Similarly, Devlin assured me that “LXRA is working closely with both Hume and Moreland Councils to ensure the current works deliver the best possible outcomes for the community within the scope of the project”.

I have raised this with Councillors from Moreland and Hume. The ones that have responded have not sounded impressed. Some of the outcomes have actually gone backwards, against Council policy and strategies for development of cycling infrastructure.

Here are some details:

  • Sydney Road is an 8 lane road, expanding to 14 traffic lanes including for turning lanes at Camp Rd/Mahoneys Rd/Sydney Rd intersection at Campbellfield with a 70Km speed zone. I think it is most unsafe to cycle on Sydney Road at this location due to the high volume of traffic and traffic speed.
  • VicRoads has not provided any safe alternative route for cyclists travelling north/south adjacent to or near Sydney Road. This function could be provided by the Upfield corridor and extension of the Upfield shared use path to Barry Road at Upfield.
  • VICRoads has no plans to extend the Upfield path, despite requests from Moreland and Hume Councils.
  • Please note that the residents of Campbellfield Heights have no backstreet route to access the shops at Campbellfield plaza. They have to come onto Sydney Road (or use the unformed footpath) to access the shops. While creation of the Upfield path would not resolve the difficulty of cycling from Campbellfield residential area to Campbellfield Plaza, it illuminates the problem that there is no safe route for cyclists.
  • As there is no provision made for Upfield shared use path to go under Camp Road, the only other option is for it to go alongside the railway on the service track, then a pedestrian crossing across the 4 lanes and two cycles lanes on Camp Road. Putting in pedestrian crossing lights would seem to remove part of the advantage of the Level Crossing Removal in periodically holding up traffic. It would be a nightmare to cross without pedestrian crossing lights. I would be pleased to find out how else planners propose that a shared use path can be installed in an easy, efficient and cost effective manner at this point.
  • The Level Crossing Removal Authority have used the space allocated for pedestrian/cyclist shared use on the rail bridge across the M80 ring road for electrical cabling ducts and cemented them into place. I would like to know how a shared use path can be installed easily and cost efficiently given the work undertaken by the Level Crossing Removal Authority in utilising this portion of the bridge seemingly ruining any prospect of it being used for a shared use path.
  • Developing infrastructure with poor access at Merri Creek Reserve: Note that that the Victorian State Government committed $1.7 million to develop visitor infrastructure, including 6km of new bike and walking paths, at Merri Creek Park in Campbellfield (Merri Gorge) in February 2017. But we are still to see any commitment to build important bicycle shared use paths in Campbellfield: the extension of Merri Creek Trail and Extension of the Upfield bike path to Barry Road at Upfield.
  • Melbourne is growing in population. Cycling infrastructure, as well as mass transit, needs to be expanded into the middle and outer suburbs to enable residents of these suburbs to choose to use recreational or commuter cycling which has positive emissions reduction and health benefits at a societal level. Extending the Upfield path could provide a convenient cycle commuter route for some Hume residents to Moreland and the city.

I did a site inspection of the Camp Road bridge and rail bridge across the M80 on February 6, 2018. I immediately reported the issue to the Level Crossing Removal Authority by phone, an email to Frank Maguire (MP for Broadmeadows) office, Samantha Ratnam as my legislative Council MP.

I am still waiting responses from the Level Crossing Removal Authority project team. I was told a member of the Level Crossing Removal Project team would get back to me within a week. There has been no response after 20 days.

I followed up my initial email to Frank Maguire MP (Broadmeadows) in person at his office on Friday 23 Feb, but other than acknowledgement that my issue has been registered I have received no further feedback from his office.

I am sure there is going to be more to this story…stay tuned.

Photos from site visit on February 6, 2018


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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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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VicRoads have no plans to extend Upfield Bike Path to Barry Road

Someone with a sense of sign humour at railway bridge

Arising from letters I sent in August, I have had a response from a policy advisor from the office of the Minister for Roads, Luke Donnellan dated 18 August 2017 regarding the Upfield Bike Path extension, and it’s not good. There are no plans by VicRoads to extend the Upfield bike path past the M80 ring road, this is despite the dangerous nature of Sydney Road for cyclists through Campbellfield.

Hume Council at their August Council meeting also advocated for VicRoads to build the Upfield bikepath extension.
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Hume Council wants Upfield Bikepath Extension as part of Camp Road level crossing removal

Excerpt from Hume Council walking and Cycling Strategy Action Plan 2010-2015

The Upfield bike path, a shared use path that thousands of cyclists and pedestrians use every day, strangely doesn’t go all the way to Upfield. In fact it doesn’t exist, except as a poor dirt track in places beside the railway line, within Hume municipality. But Hume Council is now on board to make this path happen. Will the Labor State Government come to the party?

The bike path currently finishes at Box Forest Road in Fawkner.

Extending the path up to Barry Road and Upfield station during the Camp Road level crossing removal would make a great deal of sense, opening up to many Hume municipality residents and cyclists a safe route to Brunswick, Coburg and the Melbourne CBD.
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Upfield rail line needs upgrading during Camp Rd level crossing removal

Looking north up the railway line at Camp Rd Level Crossing

The state government will be proceeding with the Camp Road level crossing removal commencing later this year, with the crossing removed by early 2018. Now is an ideal time to push for track duplication from Gowrie to Upfield and extension of the Upfield Bike Path to Barry Road.

When construction starts, services on the Upfield line can be expected to terminate at Gowrie station, with a bus service to Upfield replacing the train. There is no estimate for when or how long the disruption might take. While service is disrupted would be an ideal time to actually upgrade and improve the rail line and associated bike path.
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Exploring Merlynston Creek from source to confluence

National Boulevard Nature Reserve - 100 photos of Merlynston Creek

In May and June I spent some time cycling along Merlynston creek on several trips, exploring some of it’s secrets. Merlynston Creek is about 11 kilometres long from it’s source in an industrial area in northern Campbellfield, just a little north of the Ford Broadmeadows plant, to it’s confluence with the Merri Creek just north of Coburg Lake.

Merlynston Creek intrigued me. The creek, in it’s passage through Fawkner Cemetery, could be considered Fawkner’s natural geographical western boundary.
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Upgrade for Merri Creek Park at Campbellfield while connecting cycling paths remain missing

Panorama of Merri Creek and Merri Gorge, Campbellfield

The State Government announced $1.7 million upgrade to develop visitor infrastructure, including 6km of new bike and walking paths, at Merri Creek Park in Campbellfield. But we are still to see any commitment to build important bicycle shared use paths in Campbellfield: the extension of Merri Creek Trail and Extension of the Upfield bike path to Barry Road at Upfield.

The Money for the Merri Creek Park facilities comes from the Growth Areas Infrastructure Contribution (GAIC) fund. The 6 km of new paths will improve some community access to the 650 hectare green space in Campbellfield, which hosts nationally significant native grasslands. It is a real pity there is no public commitment from state MPs to fund the missing links that would help connect the park and local residential suburbs.

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Consultation on Camp Road Level Crossing Removal (implications for Upfield bike path)

Looking north up the railway line at Camp Rd Level Crossing

Loomking north up the railway line at Camp Rd Level Crossing

Today I went on a scouting trip along the Upfield railway line to Camp Road, the site of a level crossing removal to start in the later part of 2017 and be completed by 2019.

I have come to the conclusion:

The Upgrade of the Camp Road level crossing needs to include either a tunnel for cyclists as part of the railway in trench design, or pedestrian lights to allow cyclists to cross Camp Road in safety.

The consultation and community engagement is at The Meadows Greyhound Racing track.

  • Monday 6 February 2017, 6:00pm to 8:00pm. The Meadows, 80 Northcorp Boulevard, Broadmeadows.
  • Saturday 11 February 2017, 10:00am to 12 noon. The Meadows, 80 Northcorp Boulevard, Broadmeadows

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Extending the Tram through Fawkner – Moreland Council Survey

Sydney Rd Median strip between Major and Lynch Rds

Sydney Rd Median strip between Major and Lynch Rds

Moreland Council have announced a Survey on extending Sydney Road tram through Fawkner. This is gratifying to see, although it is just the first step in a campaign to have the No 19 Sydney Road tram service extended past it’s present Bakers Road, North Coburg terminus.

In November 2014 we argued it was time to Extend Route 19 tram to Fawkner and Campbellfield. There is a strong argument that the tramline should be extended to the Campbellfield shops, and build a public transport interchange linking the tram terminus with the Upfield train line (which also needs upgrading to dual track and electrification to Craigieburn) and east west bus routes along Mahoney’s Rd/Camp Road. (Bus interconnect includes: 902 – Chelsea – Airport West SMARTBUS Service, 530 Campbellfield – Coburg via Fawkner, 531 – Upfield – North Coburg via Somerset Estate, 538 Somerset Estate Broadmeadows via Camp Rd)

This would add substantial amenity to residents in Fawkner and Hadfield in accessing a range of shopping centres, including the Campbellfield shops. It would also add amenity to the various motels along Sydney road in Fawkner, encouraging their patrons to leave their cars parked and travel through Moreland by tram and train.
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