Throughout 2017, Capital Projects Advisory (now TSA) provided the Level Crossing Removal Project (LXRP) with strategic transport planning advice and capability to develop and deliver a prioritisation framework that assessed the need for removal of the remaining level crossings across Victoria’s Melbourne’s metropolitan and the regional commuter rail networks.
The team consulted with a range of government stakeholders from transport and planning departments, through a series of workshops and internal challenge sessions, to understand the issues related to level crossings and the factors driving the case for their removal. The key principles underpinning the prioritisation framework that was developed include:
- Movement (across the network) – sites where excessive delay and unreliability caused by high train frequencies have a broad economic impact.
- Place (local access) – sites where high train frequencies significantly limits connectivity between communities and impedes access to important facilities.
- Safety (incidents and risks) – sites with a record of incidents or a high risk of incidents
- Delivery (Efficiency) – sites where these is an opportunity to increase investment efficiency and minimised disruption impacts on the community
As part of the development of the framework, the Team applied Department of Transport’s (DoT) Movement and Place in Victoria guidelines to define and rate important factors considered important to at each level crossing location. Factors included the amount of traffic, the
number of trains in the morning peak and the importance of access of local services, education and shopping.
Another important activity was to gather five years of safety and incident data from the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator, and to assess the safety trends and risk. In addition, we directed LRXP’s technical advisor to assess the efficiency of level crossing removals in relation to site proximity, adjacency and corridor service disruption. In addition to the prioritisation framework and assessment, stakeholder consultation was undertaken across all parts of government to justify the process and decisions that were made.
Detailed materials were prepared to support this engagement, such as technical notes explaining the impact of boom gate closures at level crossings and assessment of the future risk at level crossings with increased exposure to traffic and trains through the Australian Level Crossing Assessment Model (ALCAM).
Services culminated in the public release of Prioritising future level crossing removals: Site prioritisation framework and the allocation of $6.6 billion, in the 2019/20 State Budget, for 25 additional level crossings to be removed by 2025. This investment will help improve operation on the rail network, cut traffic congestion and make Victorian communities safer.