Buckley Street Level Crossing – Essendon

23 December 2014

Mr PEARSON (Essendon) — Congratulations on your appointment, Deputy Speaker. I rise in the adjournment debate to raise a matter for the attention of the Minister for Public Transport. The issue relates to the removal of the Buckley Street, Essendon, level crossing. The Buckley Street level crossing is a major issue in not only the Essendon electorate but also the Niddrie electorate. I ask that the minister meet with local businesses, residents and community organisations to discuss options for removing this level crossing.

The removal of the Buckley Street level crossing was one of the most important issues raised in the course of my campaign for the seat of Essendon, and I know it was one of the major issues in the campaign of the member for Niddrie as well. I would like to acknowledge the role played by the previous member for Essendon, the Honourable Justin Madden, in advocating for the removal of the Buckley Street level crossing over many years. I am certainly very grateful for the attendance of the now Premier at Buckley Street in 2013, when he announced that the Buckley Street level crossing would be earmarked for removal as part of Labor’s plan to remove 50 of Melbourne’s worst level crossings. In the course of the election campaign I contacted countless residents and attended various street stalls and community forums in the Essendon electorate, and there was overwhelming interest from residents in the vicinity of the Buckley Street level crossing in relation to its being removed as soon as possible.

Throughout the course of this year I have lost count of the number of times the member for Niddrie and I have stood at the Buckley Street level crossing during peak hour and witnessed firsthand what our constituents experience on a daily basis. The reality is that in the peak period the boom gates can be down for 50 minutes in an hour. Also during the peak period the boom gates sometimes go down for 15 minutes at a time when a city-bound service is followed by a Craigieburn-bound service, followed by a V/Line service and then a freight train — or a combination thereof. The boom gates are then raised for only a brief time before they go down again, and the process repeats.

The City of Moonee Valley has conducted some research on options, and its preferred option is to remove the level crossing and use grade separation at Mount Alexander Road. This would result in the undergrounding of the rail line throughout the precinct and would enable better connectivity with other modes of public transport, such as trams and buses. It will be important to work with the council and the local community to explore the various alternatives for delivering this important project. It would be wonderful to have the opportunity to meet with the minister and interested parties to discuss this matter further.