This project continues research into better land use and public transport integration, using historical legacies of level crossing removals in Melbourne, international precedents and design research.
September 2015 to March 2016
The Level Crossing Removal Authority
The Victorian state government has committed to removing 50 level crossings in two terms of office: a faster rate of removal than in any other period in the history of railways in Melbourne.
This research project aims to deepen understanding of the issues involved in level crossing removals so that when proposals for specific locations are considered, professional, government and industry stakeholders, as well as the community can participate in a more informed way.
The project is part of on-going investigations of better integration of land use and active transport futures for Melbourne.
Our work helps to build understanding about connections between three key areas: (1) the technical and operational requirements for effective public transport networks, (2) good urban and architectural design, and (3) land use planning. Since 2005, this work has been supported by Australian Research Council grants and by industry partners in state and local government, as well as in the private sector.
During the last decade, working with our industry collaborators and also with students in architecture, urban planning and design, we have tested a range of scenarios that explore possibilities for enhanced public transport and urban intensification.
In 2012, we commenced the Transit for All project, funded by the Carlton Connect Initiative of the University of Melbourne. Graduate student designs for new stations for Melbourne’s suburban rail system were used to stimulate debate among the public and private sector networks of professionals responsible for much of Melbourne’s recent work on new stations and level crossing removals.
We began that project with an agnostic view on the relative merits of rail-under or rail-over options for level crossing removals. However, after reviewing the work produced over three iterations of our design research process, it became clear that elevated rail had some distinct advantages over the typical ‘trenched rail’ designs being constructed around Melbourne.
Learning from Melbourne’s experience
Our new report analyses the main types of level crossing removal used in Melbourne, and describes the potential benefits of elevated rail. These benefits go far beyond the government’s primary aims of improving safety and reducing traffic congestion, and include:
- Urban renewal: greater potential for multi-scale economic and social development related to increased activity around stations.
- Restoration of rail’s prominent position in the urban fabric
- Creation of linear parks and connected quiet streets for safer walking and cycling
- Opportunities for the fundamental re-organisation of Melbourne’s buses into a network connected to the rail system
- Improved passenger experience, views and wayfinding
Getting the best from level crossing removals
Realising these benefits depends on the design quality of each level crossing removal project. We demonstrate this by assessing eleven different level crossing removals built in Melbourne since the 1890s.
Through this analysis, we have come up with a set of criteria by which planners, politicians and members of the community can assess any new proposal for level crossing removals.
Download the report
- The Benefits of Level Crossing Removals: lessons from Melbourne’s historical experience (Low-resolution PDF 7.45 MB 82 pages)
- The Benefits of Level Crossing Removals: lessons from Melbourne’s historical experience (High-resolution PDF 83.1 MB 82 pages)
Level crossing removals in the news
- The Age, 11 January 2016
Elevated rail could run through Melbourne’s south east in level crossing project
- The Age, 8 February 2016
Melbourne sky rail: Many questions remain about Andrews government plan
- The Age, 11 February 2016
Sky rail more an eye opener than an eyesore
- The Conversation, 23 February 2016
The 'sky rail' saga: can big new transport projects ever run smoothly?
- Architecture AU, 23 February 2016
Rail lines over roads can help with more than just traffic jams
Record of project updates and deliverables.
- RMIT Centre for Urban Research
- RMIT School of Global, Urban and Social Studies
- The Melbourne School of Design
- Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute
We gratefully acknowledge the following organisations for their in-kind support:
- Public Transport Victoria
- Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources
- Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning
- City of Kingston
- City of Moreland
- City of Melbourne
- City of Darebin
- Shelley Penn
- Grimshaw Architects
- MGS Architects
- Hassell Studio
- Caldis Cook Group
- Urban Circus
- Metropolitan Transport Forum