Rail track. Photo: Shutterstock

11 rail workers hospitalised after lightning strike

Eleven rail workers were taken to hospital for assessment and observation after their Arc Infrastructure (formerly Brookfield Rail) crew was impacted by a lightning strike while working near Kookynie, south of Leonora, on Saturday.

Arc Infrastructure said everyone on the team, which comprised eight labour hire contractors and three Arc Infrastructure employees, was expected to make a full recovery.

The lightning strike occurred at 8.35am on Saturday, and nine of the eleven workers were released from hospital by 8pm that night, the WA rail business said.

All eleven had been transported to Leonora Hospital after the incident, before two were then airlifted from Leonora to Kalgoorlie for assessment.

As of 9am on Monday, October 16, one Arc Infrastructure employee and one labour hire contractor remained in Kalgoorlie Regional Hospital, but both were expected to be released by the end of Monday, and both are expected to make a full recovery, the company said.

“Our focus in the last 48 hours has been on ensuring these people have received the right medical attention they need and their families are well informed and supported,” Arc Infrastructure said in a statement.

“We deeply appreciate the efforts of the teams at St Johns Ambulance Leonora, Royal Flying Doctors Service, Leonora Hospital and Kalgoorlie Regional Hospital.”

The company said a full investigation is underway into the incident.

Inland Rail consultations underway in the Darling Downs

Consultations for the Inland Rail alignment from Yelarbon to Gowrie are underway in the Darling Downs, as meetings kick off between Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) representatives and the region’s key stakeholders.

ARTC CEO, John Fullerton, and executive general manager of the interstate network, Peter Winder, started talks last week, as part of ARTC’s commitment to extensive landholder and community consultation for the Inland Rail project.

“I have heard from some land owners, local councils, industry, the Queensland Farmer’s Federation and MPs, Dr John McVeigh and Pat Weir,” Fullerton said.

While this is very early in the process these meetings have been a high priority and in the coming weeks locals will have the opportunity to attend community meetings throughout the Darling Downs.”

Fullerton said that there would be many opportunities for landowners and local communities to comment and make submissions as more detailed design and assessment work for the alignment progressed over the coming months.

“We’ll also be holding one on one meetings with landholders in the preferred study corridor,” he said.

“This is an extensive and detailed process, so I also encourage people to register through the Inland Rail website to receive updates or contact ARTC’s team to talk through any questions, concerns or queries.

“Our door is always open and we welcome local knowledge which will result in the best possible project outcome for communities, the region and the country.”

The first ARTC information sessions are to commence in the week of 20 October and run for three to four weeks. Session details, such as meeting times and venues, will be finalised and advertised over the coming days.

The Yelarbon to Gowrie section of the Inland Rail will comprise approximately 146km of new dual gauge track and 78km of upgraded track from the NSW-Queensland border near Yelarbon to Gowrie Junction, north west of Toowoomba in Queensland.

In September, federal infrastructure and transport minister Darren Chester announced that the preferred study corridor for the section would be via Brookstead, Pittsworth and the Wellcamp-Charlton Industrial Precinct.

Field studies within the study corridor are to commence over the coming months, and will investigate local cultural heritage, environmental, social, geotechnical and flood related factors through ground and aerial surveys.

Tram platform upgrade. Photo: Yarra Trams

This is what our cities need to do to be truly liveable for all

COMMENT: The challenge of creating liveable communities across Australia’s capital cities comes down to seven key factors. And assessed on this basis, parts of our cities don’t fare so well, Julianna Rozek and Billie Giles-Corti write.


Urban planners, governments and developers are increasingly interested in making cities “liveable”. But what features contribute to liveability? Which areas in cities are the least and most liveable? The various liveability rankings – where Australia tends to do quite well – don’t provide much useful guidance.

In a recently released report, Creating Liveable Cities in Australia, our team defined and produced the first baseline measure of liveability in Australia’s capital cities.

We broke down liveability into seven “domains”: walkability, public transport, public open space, housing affordability, employment, the food environment, and the alcohol environment. This definition is based on what we found to be critical factors for creating liveable, sustainable and healthy communities.

Each of the liveability domains is linked by evidence to health and wellbeing outcomes. They are also measurable at the individual house, suburb and city level. This means we can compare areas within and between cities.

While all seven domains are important, three are explored here in more detail.


In liveable cities, streets and neighbourhoods are designed to encourage walking instead of driving. Homes, jobs, shops, schools and other everyday destinations are within easy walking distance of each other. The street network is convenient for pedestrians, with high-quality footpaths, short blocks, few cul-de-sacs and higher-density housing.

Walkability is an important factor in liveability because it promotes active forms of transport. Increasingly physically inactive and sedentary lifestyles are a global health problem, and contribute to around 3.2 million preventable deaths a year. In Australia, 60% of adults and 70% of children and adolescents do not get enough exercise.

We measured walkability using a combination of features that are linked to health benefits. Our “walkability index” included housing density, access to everyday destinations and street connectivity within 1,600 metres of a residence. This is a commonly used “walkable” distance, equivalent to about 20 minutes’ walk, and features within this affect how likely a person is to walk.

However, walkable neighbourhoods achieve their full potential only when residents have easy access to employment – particularly by public transport.

Public transport

Liveable cities promote public transport use instead of driving. Most homes are within easy walking distance of transport stops, and services are frequent enough to be convenient.

Good access to public transport supports community health in two ways: by encouraging walking and by reducing dependence on driving.

Australian cities have largely been designed for cars, at the cost of community health. Each hour spent driving can increase a person’s risk of obesity by around 6%. Road-traffic accidents are the eighth-leading cause of death and disability globally, and one of the leading causes of death in Australians up to the age of 44.

Cars are also a major source of urban air pollution and noise, which are harmful to mental and physical health.

In previous work, our team found that people were more likely to walk for transport if they had a public transport stop within 400 metres of their home. The service frequency was also important – it needed to be least every 30 minutes on a normal weekday.

In Creating Liveable Cities in Australia we used this combined measure to map the percentage of homes in a suburb, local government area, or city with close access to frequent public transport.

Click to enlarge. Source: Creating Liveable Cities in Australia

Public open space

In liveable communities, most people live within walking distance of a green, publicly accessible open space such as a park, playground or reserve.

Green space has many physical and mental health benefits for people, and social and environmental benefits for communities. Parks provide opportunities for physical activity, such as jogging, ball sports and dog walking.

Increasingly, research is finding clear links between living in neighbourhoods with lots of parks and higher physical activity.

Urban green spaces are also important for plants and animals displaced by urban development and provide other environmental benefits. The cooling effect of trees and green spaces can play an important part in maintaining the liveability of Australian cities, particularly as heatwaves in Melbourne and Sydney are likely to reach 50°C by 2040.

In soon-to-be-published work, having access to a public open space within 400 metres (about a five-minute walk) of at least 1.5 hectares in area was associated with recreational walking.

For this report, we struggled to find a dataset of public open space that was consistent and available nationally. Some areas have high-quality data available from previous research projects or local councils, and satellite imagery provides useful information about tree cover.

However, national data standards are needed to enable cities to benchmark and monitor their progress in meeting liveability targets.

The liveable city is greater than the sum of its parts

The phrase “liveable city” conjures up a vision of leafy streets, happy residents walking, cycling or catching public transport, and children playing in neighbourhood parks. This image, while inspiring, is not useful for urban planners and governments who are working to make cities more liveable.

Distilling liveability into seven domains, which can be measured and are linked to health and wellbeing outcomes, provides policymakers and practitioners with what they need to ensure we maintain and enhance the liveability of our cities as they grow.


The Conversation logo

Julianna Rozek is Research Officer, Healthy Liveable Cities Group, Centre for Urban Research, RMIT University and Billie Giles-Corti is Director, Urban Futures Enabling Capability Platform and Director, Healthy Liveable Cities Group, RMIT UniversityThis article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article here.

Coal. Photo: Shutterstock

Business Council slams Government after CET backdown

Australia’s big business lobby group has criticised the Federal Government for apparently backing down from implementing a clean energy target (CET).

The CET was a key recommendation of the report into Australia’s energy sector conducted by the nation’s chief scientist, Dr Alan Finkel.

The Coalition had said it would work to follow the recommendations of the Finkel Report, but energy minister Josh Frydenberg signalled the CET would be ditched in an effort to keep energy costs down this week.

Frydenberg reportedly told a Sydney conference on Monday that emissions from the energy market had already “fallen over the last two quarters as the consequence of the closure of coal-fired power stations and flatlining demand”.

“However, this transition to lower emissions cannot come at the expense of the reliability and affordability of our electricity system,” he was quoted as saying.

Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott told RN Breakfast her group was disappointed with the apparent back-down.

“Last time we talked I made it really clear what business wants,” Westacott said. “We need a signal, a stable signal about how emissions will be treated in the economy.”

“The energy target was meant to be that,” host Fran Kelly suggested.

“Exactly,” Westacott replied, “and we’ve supported that.”

The BCA chief continued: “if the government is not going to pursue Alan Finkel’s recommended clean energy target mechanism as a way of signalling emissions then what is the alternative? And let’s make sure that in doing that, we are sitting down with business and industry to make sure we get this right. Because we both have had some false starts at this.”

Australia’s $1 billion loan to Adani ‘ripe’ for High Court challenge

COMMENT: The proposed loan of Commonwealth money to Adani is on shaky constitutional ground, potentially paving the way for High Court challenge which could change the dynamics of federal-state funding, Brendan Gogarty writes.


Indian mining giant Adani’s proposal to build Australia’s largest coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin has been the source of sharp national controversy, because of its potential economic, health, environmental and cultural risks.

These concerns were amplified this week when India’s former environment minister Jairam Ramesh told the ABC’s Four Corners:

My message to the Australian government would certainly be: please demonstrate that you have done more homework than has been the case so far.

It’s a valid warning, considering that a Commonwealth investment board is considering loaning Adani A$1 billion in federal money to assist the development of mining infrastructure.

Read more: Adani gives itself the green light, but that doesn’t change the economics of coal

The loan, expected to be announced any day now, will no doubt agitate further political controversy.

It is also likely to pave the way for yet more court challenges against Adani’s proposal.

Why does Adani want Commonwealth money?

One of the major questions about Adani’s mine is its financial viability, and its inability to secure private sector funding. Its proponents blame anti-coal campaigners, but arguably more important are the myriad concerns about Adani’s liquidity, its corporate structure and conduct, and the ever-weakening international coal market.

Against this backdrop Adani has requested A$1 billion from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) – a A$5 billion discretionary government fund set up in 2016 to promote economic development in the country’s north.

The timing and geographical focus of the fund have raised fears it is just a government “slush fund”, set up with Adani’s plans specifically in mind. The federal government initially denied this, with Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg stressing that the mine “needs to stand on its own two feet”.

But shortly after the NAIF Act was passed, Adani’s application was made public, although there remains little available detail about whether or why it will be given the money, or the exact amount.

Loan procedures

NAIF’s board will make the decision, not a government minister. Its processes are shielded from scrutiny by a lack of transparency requirements and consistent blocking of Freedom of Information requests.

As the loan decisions are made by a quasi-corporate board, rather than a minister, it is much harder (if not impossible) to challenge them directly in court. Nor does the NAIF Act provide grounds for review or appeal.

Ultimately, this leaves those who object to Adani receiving Commonwealth money with a very limited avenue of legal challenge. The only option is to argue that the NAIF Act is itself unconstitutional.

Constitutional challenge

The Commonwealth has no direct power to make laws that control or support infrastructure or mining directly. Instead, the NAIF Act seeks to do this indirectly using Section 96 of the Constitution, which states:

During a period of ten years after the establishment of the Commonwealth and thereafter until the Parliament otherwise provides, the Parliament may grant financial assistance to any State on such terms and conditions as the Parliament thinks fit. (emphasis added)

There are two points to note here.

The first is that this granting provision was clearly meant as a transitional measure for the decade immediately following federation, to protect poorer states from bankruptcy while adjusting their economies to a federal model. Note also that the provision was clearly intended to help state governments, not corporations.

The second is the phrase “terms and conditions”, which clearly relates to the repayment of these loans, much like the terms and conditions applied to any banking loan today.

Both of these things were ignored by the early (and somewhat infamous) Engineers High Court from the 1920s to 1950s, which tended to interpret the Constitution in a way that favoured the Commonwealth over the states.

Perhaps most importantly, the court ruled that Section 96 allows the Commonwealth to apply any terms and conditions it likes to the loans, rather than simply setting the terms of repayment. That has meant that states can be compelled to take particular actions – such as accepting national educational standards, building roads or, indeed, infrastructure development – in return for financial assistance. States were also forced to stop collecting income tax in return for federal monies. This resulted in a “vertical fiscal imbalance” which has left the states at the financial mercy of the Commonwealth ever since.

This extremely liberal interpretation of Section 96 has not been legally challenged since the early days of the federation, not least because recipients or potential recipients of money are unlikely to bite the hand that feeds them. But the Adani loan might just change this.

Adani’s prospective loan seems clearly inconsistent with the wording of Section 96. Any constitutional challenge against it is likely to be complex and nuanced, but two basic arguments present themselves.

First, the Constitution states that it is the Commonwealth Parliament that must determine both the loan and its conditions. However, the NAIF Act grants these powers to a corporate board, which answers only indirectly to the Parliament.

Second, the Constitution states that it is the state that must receive the loan. But the Queensland Government has stated that it will simply pass the NAIF funding straight to Adani, and that:

Commonwealth’s borrowings for the NAIF project will remain on the Commonwealth’s balance sheet and not on Queensland’s.

This is a highly questionable use of a federal power that was conceived as a way to help states with their financing, rather than private multinational companies.

Note also the apparent bypassing of the Senate in this process. Senators may be likely to bring a legal challenge if they feel that federal money meant to benefit their states is being distributed improperly.

More than just federal money at stake

While it is impossible to second-guess the High Court on such a complex matter, its recent decisions indicate a major swing away from unsupervised Commonwealth spending, especially on issues that affect the fiscal balance between the states and Commonwealth. The potential Adani loan certainly seems to fall into that category.

Read more: Why are we still pursuing the Adani Carmichael mine?

Yet as much as Section 96 has been stretched beyond its original intention, it has also been used to support vital and important national enterprises, from education, to social welfare, and indeed national development projects.

The ConversationWith that in mind, the Commonwealth might ultimately come to doubt the wisdom of granting such a vast sum of money to a questionable company. If it leads to more restrictive reading of Section 96 by the High Court, it might significantly limit Canberra’s ability to fund valuable schemes in other areas.


The Conversation logo

Brendan Gogarty is Senior Lecturer in Law, University of TasmaniaThis article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article here.

Your digital edition of the Rail Express September/October Issue is here!

Rail Express is pleased to release its 2017 September/October Issue, along with a special supplement on Freight Rail.

Click here to read Rail Express, September/October 2017
Click here to read our special Freight Rail supplement

In our second issue of Rail Express in 2017, we take a look at the cutting edge of this vast and important industry: Signalling & Communications. Around Australia, networks are getting busier, while the environments around them are moving faster, and becoming more complex every day. The job of keeping these networks safe, while also helping them be more efficient, makes this sector one of the most active in the field of research and development, and we take a look at some of the work on the table right now.

We also focus on the explosion of Civil Engineering & Construction taking place in just about every state and territory in Australia, and across the Tasman.

On page 30 we have a case study of some excellent work which has taken place in Sydney’s busy Town Hall station, aimed at improving the concourse and station areas for commuters, while also making maintenance work easier. On page 34 we take a look at the positive signs coming from the market, and on page 35, we profile one of the newest major pieces of work about to take place: Parramatta Light Rail.

Our supplement in this issue focuses on Freight Rail. With intermodal developments popping up around the region, and the wheels finally moving on Inland Rail, could rail soon take a serious bite out of the road industry’s market dominance on key freight routes? We also look at heavy haul rail in the supplement, including ongoing developments in Queensland and Western Australia.

Of course no Rail Express would be complete without our regular coverage of news from all around the region; we cover recent battles between the Queensland Government and the Commonwealth, lots of news out of Infrastructure Australia, and plenty more.

Please enjoy reading this issue. I look forward to engaging with the industry ahead of our next issue, the AusRAIL PLUS special edition, and then we’re on to the event.

Click here to read Rail Express, September/October 2017
Click here to read our special Freight Rail supplement

Instructions: simply use your mouse to drag the pages just like you were reading a magazine. Alternatively, you can use the left and right arrows on your keyboard. To zoom in on a page, use the magnifying glass icon on the bottom centre menu. To download the magazine as a PDF, click the downward arrow icon in the bottom centre menu.

China ETS could rattle coal sector

China will launch a national emissions trading scheme later this year, with measures expected to be roughly double those currently implemented in Europe, according to the Australian Financial Review.

According to reports, the ETS will first target the coal sector, before moving on to the steel and aluminium sectors by 2020.

A representative from Tsinghua University, who reportedly advises the Chinese Government, told AFR the much-talked-about scheme would come into force by the end of this year.

“It is still uncertain how many sectors will be covered in the early stages but power generation will definitely be covered,” the source was quoted as saying.

The scheme would reportedly work by charging coal burning entities when they go over the carbon cap, allowing companies under the cap to sell credits to those who breach it.

The precise mechanisms of an ETS have been debated around the globe, and the scheme’s overall impact on coal prices and demand is yet to be seen.

One expert who believes the ETS will impact Australian exporters is Carbon Market Institute chief executive Peter Castellas.

“Our energy-intensive exports sit directly in the supply chain of the world’s largest carbon market, where their customers are going to have a liability around the carbon price,” Castellas reportedly told The Guardian.

“That will send a market signal of real significance.”

Stuck in traffic: we need a smarter approach to congestion than building more roads

COMMENT: Instead of focusing on freeways, governments should change the way we pay for urban roads and public transport, Marion Terrill and Hugh Batrouney write.

The equation doesn’t look pretty. Traffic congestion costs us billions of dollars each year – so we are told – and population growth is not letting up. When road rage meets large economic costs, it’s little wonder our politicians are desperate to do something.

The trouble is, too often that “something” is a great big new freeway. Building more roads isn’t the best answer, because the roads we have are mostly up to the job – if only we could make better use of them by spreading traffic out beyond the morning and evening peaks.

Instead of focusing on freeways, governments should change the way we pay for urban roads and public transport. To work out how best to do this, the Grattan Institute has looked at several million Google Maps estimates of travel times in Australia’s largest cities. This analysis reveals both the extent of the problem in Sydney and Melbourne and its city-specific characteristics.

For many, the problem is minor

The truth is, for a lot of people, road congestion doesn’t matter much. This is because most people work in a suburb close to where they live.

Chart 1 shows congestion delays for Sydney’s 146 most-common commuting trips.

Chart 1: For many Sydney commuters, congestion is very modest

Additional minutes compared to free flow

The horizontal black line in the coloured bar is the median of all journey-to-work routes, weighted by the number of people who used a car to travel to work on those routes in the 2011 Census reference week. Trip times were estimated by assuming all travel between suburbs was between representative addresses for each suburb. Routes with fewer than 400 such commuters are not included. Source: Grattan analysis of Google Maps, and ABS (2011)

The average delay is small: an average commute at the busiest time of day takes around three minutes longer than the same trip in the middle of the night.

While some commutes are delayed for much longer, it is unusual for trips to take more than ten minutes extra in peak periods.

Congestion is a problem in the CBD and inner suburbs

Unsurprisingly, the story is different, and worse, in and around central Sydney and Melbourne. Add in all the trucks and vans, students and tradies, shoppers and people going to appointments, and typical delays for travel on CBD-bound journeys are substantially greater (Chart 2).

Chart 2: On commutes into Sydney’s CBD, the average morning-peak delay is 11 minutes

The horizontal black line in the coloured bar is the median of all journey-to- work routes, weighted by the number of people who used a car to travel to work on those routes in the 2011 Census reference week. Trip times were estimated by assuming all travel between suburbs was between representative addresses for each suburb. Routes with fewer than 400 such commuters are not included. Source: Grattan analysis of Google Maps, and ABS (2011)

The trends are similar in Melbourne. Travel on CBD-bound journeys is much more delayed than to non-CBD locations.

Chart 3 also shows that delays are noticeably larger in the suburbs that immediately surround Melbourne’s CBD.

Chart 3: Travel in suburbs surrounding the Melbourne CBD is highly delayed

Increase in travel time relative to free flow travel time

Average delay is calculated as the ratio of trip duration at each point throughout the day to the minimum trip duration observed for that route over the sample period. Based on travel.
time of representative route samples collected via Google Maps. Weekends and public holidays excluded. Source: Grattan analysis of Google Maps

Some commutes are frustratingly unpredictable

Most travellers don’t just care about how long a trip usually takes. How long it could take also matters.

Chart 4 shows that Melbourne’s Eastern Freeway/Hoddle Street corridor has not only some of city’s worst delays, but also some of the least-predictable travel times. Motorists from suburbs to the north-east have to juggle these less-reliable travel times more than those travelling similar distances from other directions.

Chart 4: Travel on routes to Melbourne’s CBD that rely on Eastern Freeway and Hoddle Street are noticeably delayed and unreliable

Increase in travel time as a proportion of free-flow travel time, weekday morning peak, commutes into Melbourne CBD

For travel departing between 7am and 9am. Excludes weekends and public holidays. The boxes cover the 25th to 75th percentiles. The vertical line in each box lies at the median for each city. The ‘whiskers’ on each side of the boxes extend no further than plus or minus 1.5w where ‘w’ is the box width. Observations beyond the lines are plotted as dots. Source: Grattan analysis of Google Maps

New roads are not the whole answer

Congestion tends to be worst in the most built-up parts of Sydney and Melbourne, where it would be most costly to construct new roads. This means that even crippling levels of congestion might not justify the construction of astronomically expensive infrastructure.

In any case, new roads often take years to build and can fill up with new traffic of their own.

New roads are important, however, in new suburbs.

The rule for our policymakers should be: build a road whenever the community will gain more from the new road than it will cost, and whenever the new road is a better option for the community than extracting more from the roads we’ve already got. But do not think of new roads as congestion-busting.

So what should be done?

Changing the way we use our existing infrastructure through pricing needs to be at the top of the agenda. This mean charging motorists for the congestion they cause.

Sydney and Melbourne need to consider introducing a congestion charge. That doesn’t mean more toll roads – it means charging people who drive at peak times on congested roads a small fee.

Further reading: Road user charging belongs on the political agenda as the best answer for congestion management

Because some people wouldn’t think it worth paying the charge at the busiest times of day, those who did pay would get a quicker and more reliable trip. People who can travel outside of the peaks would not have to pay, because there would be no congestion charge when the roads are not congested.

The increased cost to drivers could be offset by cuts to car registration fees. And any extra money raised by the congestion charge could be spent improving train, tram, bus and ferry services.

International examples show that introducing a congestion charge need not amount to political suicide. An initially sceptical public came quickly to accept, value, the reform when it was introduced in London and Stockholm.

The ConversationThe congestion equation for Sydney and Melbourne is only going to get more ugly as both cities continue to grow. We need more sophisticated policymaking to ease drivers’ road rage and frustrations.

Marion Terrill, Transport Program Director, Grattan Institute and Hugh Batrouney, Senior Associate, Grattan Institute. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Sydenham to Bankstown line. Photo: Planning NSW

Greens slam Sydenham-Bankstown metro upgrade EIS

The New South Wales Greens have criticised the recently released Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Sydenham to Bankstown section of the Sydney Metro project, calling it a “complete joke”.

The upgrades to the line, including converting the track so that it can carry the Metro’s single-deck carriages, are to cause major disruptions for train-users in the South West: four annual scheduled maintenance closures will be established, while additional periodic closures will be scheduled at night and on weekends and school holidays.

Moreover, in the period before the opening of the Metro services in 2024, a closure of the line between three to six months will be implemented.

Greens MP and transport spokesperson, Dr Mehreen Faruqi, claimed the planned transformation of the line was just a means of privatising a “perfectly functional” train service for Sydney’s South West.

“This is not only poor planning, but a complete waste of money that should instead be spent on expanding the rail network to underserved areas,” Dr Faruqi said.

Faruqui also took aim at the environmental impacts of the project, along with the ostensible biodiversity-preserving strategy contained in the government’s EIS.

The EIS claims that construction compounds for the project will be placed in already cleared areas to limit vegetation clearance, and areas in which the threatened Downey Wattle species grows.

Faruqui said the government’s scant plans to protect the environment were laughable.

“We know from the EIS that the project will impact threatened ecological communities, and the biodiversity offset strategy is a complete joke. The government has already shown its disregard for the environment, and this is just more proof,” she said.

“The Government is using the Metro project as a ripe opportunity to massively overdevelop the area from Sydenham to Bankstown. This is nothing but a toxic mix of overdevelopment and privatisation.”

The Green MP’s comments echo some of the criticisms levelled against the project by NSW Labor. Opposition Leader Luke Foley called the Bankstown metro upgrade a “property play” by the government.

“People don’t get a new rail line,” Foley said. “Residents get their existing rail line shut for 16 months and 100,000 new residents. The point of rail upgrades should be to add to the rail network.”

The EIS remains open for public feedback until 8 November 2017.

Progress for line-elevation works at Murrumbeena Road

Beams have been put in place over Murrumbeena Road as part of the project to create the elevated 3.2-kilometre rail corridor in Melbourne’s South East.

The level crossing at Murrumbeena Road is one of nine dangerous level crossings between Caulfield and Dandenong that are to be removed in the Victorian government’s $1.2 billion project.

Currently, the boom gates on Murrumbeena Road are closed for up to 75 minutes during the two-hour morning peak, causing a great deal of traffic congestion on the busy road.

The construction of the elevated section of the line and the new elevated station is to eventually eliminate the need for the level crossing on Murrumbeena Road.

The concrete beams, which form the foundation for the elevated line, are picked up from the Murrumbeena assembly area by a massive straddle carrier, which carries them along the line, planting them upon columns.

According to the government, using the carrier eliminates both the need to cancel train services and for the compulsory acquisition of property, as the machine is able to manoeuvre and carry out its tasks along the narrow space.

Closed from mid-June for construction works, the station is expected to open again on 2 October, after wet and windy weather conditions in July reportedly delayed the previous plan of a re-opening in early September.

Complaints over the noisy construction works have reportedly led the Level Crossing Authority to invite local residents to temporarily relocate to alternative accommodation for several weeks.

The Caulfield to Dandenong project is to rebuild four more new stations – at Carnegie, Hughesdale, Clayton and Noble Park.

The removal of the crossings and the elevation of the line will allow new parks and open public spaces to be created. It is expected that crossing removals will be complete by the end of 2018.