Market Sectors, Passenger Rail

Victorian sky rail construction requires demolition of historic signal boxes

Two early 20th-century signal boxes are set to be demolished as part of construction for a 2.5-kilometre elevated rail line from Tinning Street in Brunswick to O’Hea Street in Coburg.

Moreland Council and an organisation called the Coburg Historical Society want the signal boxes heritage protected, according to The Age.

The signal boxes and more than 100 trees will be bulldozed when the government replaces four level crossings with the $542.4 million sky rail project. In a submission to Heritage Victoria, Coburg residents asked for heritage protection of the signal boxes as well as the trees.

Executive director of Heritage Victoria, Steven Avery, recommended that trees and rail infrastructure dating back to the late 1800s should be protected. He did not recommend heritage protection be extended to the century old signal boxes, or the Gandolfo Gardens 100 trees. The Moreland and Coburg train stations, which were built in the 1880s, are heritage-protected.

According to The Age, however, planning minister Richard Wynne will now make the final decision. “As the minister responsible for both planning and heritage, it’s appropriate I make the final decision,” Wynne said.

The Level Crossing Removal Project, however, says that the removal of the trees is necessary for work towards replacing the level crossings to be able to commence because the rail corridor is so narrow.

“The alternative would be continual disruptions over a much longer time for the community, commuters and local residents,” chief executive Kevin Devlin said.

Some of the Upfield line will be closed for three months while the sky rail is constructed – the longest shutdown since the government started removing level crossings in 2016.

The government will also build a new 2.5 kilometre cycling lane, while the removal of boom gates will benefit around 68,000 vehicles driving through the level crossings each day.