Melton Highway level crossing

The matter I raise is for the attention of the Minister for Public Transport, and it is in relation to a significant traffic and safety issue at the Watergardens railway station, where the rail line meets and crosses the Melton Highway. The action I seek is for the government to commit to a grade separation at this location as a matter of priority.

To date I have tabled already petitions containing around 2500 signatures and have another petition containing 500 signatures ready to be tabled in the new Parliament. The reason it has become such a huge issue in my electorate is that the electrification of the line through to Sunbury has seen around 80 per cent more trains go through that level crossing where they once terminated. As a result of the boom gates staying down for an excessive period, we are seeing significant traffic problems on the Melton Highway.

There is terrible congestion, and many residents have complained to my office about it. They have actually written, emailed, dropped in and taken it upon themselves to distribute the petitions in trying to get this level crossing fixed.

Another compounding issue of safety is the fact that there is a local school on either side of the railway line. With the boom gates being down an average of 52 minutes during a 2-hour peak period in the morning, in too many cases we have seen high school children in particular running across the tracks while the boom gates were down having thought the trains had left but with country trains still to come through. It is terrible to see that happen, because it is only a matter of time before a tragedy occurs. As I have said, many constituents have raised this with me directly at the office. One constituent, Nick, wrote to me and said he waited 15 minutes at the level crossing to move only 500 metres.

He said there is a great amount of frustration in the community, and he knows he speaks on behalf of many people. I have had mothers complain to me that they are constantly late getting their children to exams because they cannot predict how long it will take to get through that crossing.

The situation is about to be compounded by the fact around 30 000 homes are planned for new estates that sit just beyond this railway crossing. We anticipate 30 000 homes will mean up to an additional 70 000 cars will come into the area based on current car usage figures. Without a fix for this intersection, without a grade separation being high on the government’s list of priorities, we are going to see more commuters and more pedestrians put in danger at this crossing.