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Subject: Fri.20.8.21 daily digest
Hitler reacts to the Andrews Government's covid19 rules: <www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEASFd3CGFE>
Fri.20.8.21 Metro Twitter
Aircraft: No ramp access to platforms until late 2021 (pedestrian-underpass works).
Flinders St: still with a lane closed for tunnel works.
Mooroolbark: Station closed until late-2021 (level-crossing removal). A shuttle bus will operate Croydon - Mooroolbark - Lilydale, connecting with trains. There will be no access to station platforms or facilities during this time.
Edithvale/Chelsea/Bonbeach: Stations closed until late 2021 (level-crossing removal). A shuttle bus will operate Mordialloc - Carrum, connecting with trains. There will be no access to station platforms or facilities during this time.
The level crossings at Argyle Avenue, Bondi Road and Edithvale Road are closed until early-October. Chelsea Road is closed permanently. See http://levelcrossings.vic.gov.au/projects/chelsea-road-chelsea
Until Wednesday 25 August the Royal Parade southbound service lane will be closed north of the Grattan Street intersection, adjacent to the Metro Tunnel Project site. For more information on transport changes in this area, visit: https://metrotunnel.vic.gov.au/construction/parkville/changes-to-grattan-street
Have your say on the Metro Tunnel’s updated proposed designs for the underground stations and surrounding precincts.
Buses replace trains between Newport and Williamstown from 20.30 until the last train of Friday 12 November (level-crossing removal).
All night public transport on Fridays & Saturdays will not run for the next two weeks to support the 9pm - 5am curfew in metropolitan Melbourne.The only reasons to leave home during curfew are for authorised work & urgent medical care/caregiving. Public transport services will not run between 1am and 5am on Saturdays and between 1am and 6am on Sundays.
Sunbury/Craigieburn/Upfield lines: All trains run direct to/from Flinders St from 21.00 until the last train (maintenance works). From loop stations, take a westbound Bourke St tram to connect [and walk two blocks from Flagstaff and Melbourne Central, and lose 30 min].
Pakenham/Cranbourne lines: All trains will terminate/originate at Caulfield from 21.00 until 20.00 Sun 21 Aug (works). Change at Caulfield to/from Frankston trains.
COVID-19 IN AUSTRALIA, Vaccine rollout Aug 20
WA 25.7% fully vaccinated 44.6% first dose State target:70%
National 28.9% fully vaccinated 51.0% first dose National target:70%
New locally acquired cases 712 (WA or nationally?).
Victoria still faces some big challenges over the coming decades Jim Miller August 19, 2021
Our state faces some growing pains over the coming decades, but these projects as well as policy changes and reforms will make life easier for Victorians.
video: Victoria's 30-year infrastructure blueprint The major transport building projects
Anyone working in infrastructure planning laughs and cringes at the very mention of Utopia – the hilarious TV show set at the fictional government agency, the Nation Building Authority. It’s possible, like me, they’ve been asked to draw comparisons between the program and their own organisation at more than one barbecue.
As chair of the state’s independent infrastructure advisory body, I delight in telling them the good news: infrastructure planning in Victoria is vastly different to the haphazard, bumbling train wreck presented in the show. Planning the state’s infrastructure needs may get fewer laughs in reality – but it delivers much better results for Victorians.
Since 2015, we at Infrastructure Victoria have been doing our homework. We’ve done new research and conducted sophisticated land use and transport modelling, analysed future scenarios, and talked to different business and community groups. Our job is to independently assess and help guide the infrastructure policy and investment decisions of the Victorian government in the short, medium and long term. We advise, the government decides.
The Victorian government completed or made progress on over 90 per cent of the 137 recommendations in our first 30-year Victorian infrastructure strategy, developed back in 2016. On Thursday we presented an updated version of the strategy to the Victorian parliament. It charts the next stage of Victoria’s infrastructure journey, responding to changes in our society, including the long-lasting impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, such as where Victorians live and how they travel.
Infrastructure Victoria has helped shape the state’s key projects. Picture: Alex Coppel.
Victoria’s new infrastructure strategy makes recommendations about future decisions – and how to maximise the benefits of existing government commitments. A good infrastructure strategy is more than a wish list of projects. More than half our recommendations are for policy changes and reforms to reduce the pressure on the infrastructure we already have, without a sod being turned.
We have identified the construction projects that are absolutely required, representing around $100bn in capital spend over 30 years. Every dollar spent on these projects will deliver multiple benefits to Victorians.
For example, we recommend the Victorian government begin planning to reconfigure the City Loop for more frequent and reliable services, extend suburban train lines in Melbourne’s growing outer north and west, and prepare for the Outer Metropolitan Ring Road. Victoria will need these projects regardless of changing travel and work patterns caused by the pandemic. They will better connect Victorians to jobs, services, and each other.
We also found that Melbourne Metro 2 – a new rail tunnel connecting Clifton Hill and Newport though the CBD and Fishermans Bend – offers significant economic benefits. It also provides an option for faster, direct Geelong services into the city. But it will need alternative route alignments and staging to be considered cost effective.
On the other hand, we found a cross-city motorway will do little to ease congestion in the short term and may not be needed for another 20 to 30 years, when it might be useful in providing better freight connections.
These and other construction projects have the biggest benefits when combined with other solutions. For example, Victoria can immediately upgrade outdated road technology systems for better traffic light control to speed up traffic flow. Victoria can also introduce a range of pricing changes to support safer, fairer and faster travel, such as cheaper fares for buses and off-peak travel.
While governments must, quite rightly, turn the bulk of their attention to managing the pandemic right now, Victoria still faces some big challenges over the coming decades. These include worsening congestion, a growing and ageing population, technological transformation, and a warming climate.
When we shift to recovery from the pandemic, the 2021-2051 statewide infrastructure strategy presents the Victorian government with a practical roadmap for action: 94 recommendations across all types of infrastructure including energy, water, environment, health, digital connectivity, community services, justice, emergency services and transport, including active transport.
It includes the top regional infrastructure priorities from the Mallee to Gippsland to help reduce disadvantage, build on economic strengths and address environmental risks including improving digital connectivity, long-term road and rail maintenance funding, and upgrading power infrastructure for agriculture and regional industries.
In Utopia, there is always a new build solution to solve problems. From fast trains to monorails, technological superhighways and hydro schemes. It’s all fanfare and ribbon cutting with little regard to the long-term benefit. Thankfully, in reality, there is a better way. It relies on evidence, analysis, consultation and an integrated approach.
Evidence tells us that despite the challenges of the pandemic, Melbourne and Victoria will continue to grow; and that the infrastructure Victoria already has will accommodate most of this future growth. The government has at its fingertips Infrastructure Victoria’s sensible, pragmatic, affordable and evidence-based roadmap to support a thriving and sustainable society.
Labor treating rail loop like giant Monopoly game
Price tag of Suburban Rail Loop still to be revealed
Mega transport projects to ease city’s growing pains
Implementing these recommendations will deliver the infrastructure Victorians need – and keep the comedy to Utopia.
Jim Miller is chair of Infrastructure Victoria
https://www.infrastructurevictoria.com.au/our-board: finance, finance, economics, banking, bureaucrat, finance, bureaucrat (treasury).
https://www.infrastructurevictoria.com.au/our-people: legal, media
Not one transport person; not one engineer.
The executive officer came from YT, but got there from 17 years in finance.
Ex-NSW Transport chief feared controversial rail entity posed safety risk Matt O'Sullivan and Adele Ferguson August 20, 2021
Former NSW Transport chief Rodd Staples raised safety as a key issue in the setting up of a controversial $40 billion rail corporation last year during robust discussions with his then counterpart at Treasury, months before being sacked without cause.
Facing a grilling at a parliamentary hearing on Friday, Treasury Secretary Mike Pratt said there had been “rigorous debate” last year between himself and Mr Staples about the establishment of the Transport Asset Holding Entity (TAHE).
Rodd Staples, regarded as the architect of Sydney’s metro rail lines, was sacked without cause last November.CREDIT:WOLTER PEETERS
“Certainly we had rigorous debate about the set-up of TAHE, and the position going forward,” he told the budget estimates hearing. “There was a joint responsibility between both secretaries to make sure this was implemented.”
Mr Staples was sacked without reason last November, months after separate confidential reports by KPMG consultants commissioned by Treasury and Transport for NSW came to radically different conclusions about the financial and safety risks posed by TAHE.
Asked whether Mr Staples had told him that the establishment of TAHE posed a risk to the state budget or rail safety, Mr Pratt said on Friday that the former Transport secretary had raised safety as a “key issue” as he had every right to do.
“Transport … were charged with addressing safety and operations as part of the TAHE implementation, and we were addressed, as you’d expect, to look at the fiscal modelling work,” he said.
“When all this went through, and was approved in late , safety and operations was ticked off by Transport as part of that approval process.”
The Herald revealed in June that senior transport officials feared that the creation of TAHE could repeat the 1990s carve-up of NSW railways and the resulting gaps in safety and investment accountabilities; key factors in the 1999 Glenbrook and 2003 Waterfall rail disasters.
Following the hearing on Friday, shadow treasurer Daniel Mookhey said it was clear that the establishment of TAHE set off a “serious bout of government in-fighting”.
“Two of NSW’s most powerful public servants had a high-stakes battle over this $40 billion accounting trick. Apparently some senior government figures were willing to accept more safety risk to pull off this budget trick,” he said.
Mr Pratt also recalled a meeting with Mr Staples and the state’s top public servant Tim Reardon last year, when quizzed by Mr Mookhey during the hearing.
Asked whether it was to resolve their views, Mr Pratt said that it was “really to come together and say, ’Where are we at and how’s it progressing [on TAHE],’”
On Wednesday, Mr Reardon told a parliamentary hearing that there was “certainly a contest of views” on establishing TAHE, when asked whether the heads of Transport for NSW and Treasury were in dispute about the entity in March last year.
The Herald also revealed this week that TAHE has had a revolving door of CEOs, and that the government considered commercialising the entire public transport and road networks to artificially inflate the budget by shifting billions of dollars of costs off the books and into the state-owned corporation.
Mr Pratt rejected outright a suggestion that TAHE was a sham, saying he was “quite offended by those accusations that have been made because Treasury has a rigorous process of assessment and approval internally”.
Former NSW auditor-general Tony Harris has described TAHE as an “accounting scam”, following the Herald’s revelations that the entity was set up in 2015 to enable the government to hide the costs of the state’s rail system and inflate the NSW budget.
Fuelling concerns about TAHE is the fact that none of the entity’s three independent board members has extensive experience in public transport or rail safety.
Treasury officials confirmed on Friday that Mike Mrdak, a highly respected former secretary of the federal transport department, was considered for the TAHE board.
But Treasury Deputy Secretary San Midha told the hearing that he understood Mr Mrdak did not end up being recommended for the board.
Under a shareholders’ agreement, TAHE is required to increase its pre-tax earnings from $48.9 million last financial year to $779.3 million in 2021-22.
Asked why TAHE was not paying a dividend given it was projected to earn $779 million this year, Mr Midha said the dividend payments to the government would be finalised when the annual report was released later this year.
2004 NSW Labor government reintegrates all rail functions that were split in 1996 into RailCorp to resolve ongoing safety issues after the Glenbrook and Waterfall train crashes, which resulted in deaths and injuries.
July 1, 2015 NSW Coalition government sets up Transport Asset Holding Entity (TAHE) as a shell corporation responsible for managing rail assets separately from passenger services in a move which inflates state budget that year by billions of dollars.
May 2016 Confidential Cabinet submission warns of a “number of significant risks relating to the creation of TAHE”, including safety risks if maintenance is separated from operations.
Dec 2019 Mounting concerns about TAHE within Transport for NSW as it scrambles to devise a model that doesn’t compromise safety.
May 2020 NSW Auditor-General grows impatient with progress of TAHE after the government misses a key milestone in its “transition” to a for-profit corporation.
Late May 2020 Cabinet submission from Treasury and Transport flags unresolved issues, including risks to safety. It warns that if TAHE is canned it will hit the state budget by $2.66 billion in 2019-2020.
June 1, 2020 Cabinet proceeds to endorse standing up TAHE on 1 July for fear of losing the financial benefits if they didn’t show progress. It agrees to re-evaluate TAHE later in the year after in-depth modelling by KPMG.
July 1, 2020 TAHE officially becomes a state-owned corporation with board and CEO.
Sept 30, 2020 KPMG draft review for Transport for NSW warns TAHE has no real financial benefit once it starts charging rail access fees to generate revenue. Treasury attacks the report’s credibility and commissions a separate review with narrow scope.
Nov 8, 2020 KPMG final report warns TAHE will cost the state budget billions of dollars in the longer term.
Nov 11, 2020 Treasury tells Transport for NSW secretary Rodd Staples that the KPMG report has “persistent errors”. Treasury demands amendments and all references to Treasury and fiscal advice be deleted.
Nov 15, 2020 KPMG’s national managing partner writes to Staples defending the report following Treasury criticism, saying “KPMG stands by the modelled results in the operating and financial model report”.
Nov 16, 2020 Transport and Treasury in stalemate over TAHE’s long-term model.
Nov 17, 2020 NSW's top public servant Tim Reardon emails Transport secretary Rodd Staples to terminate him without reason.
Dec 10, 2020 NSW Audit Office warns of a "high risk" with TAHE due to significance of financial reporting impacts and business risks.
June 22, 2021 State budget will be scrutinised over how benefits from TAHE are disclosed.
RELATED ARTICLE About $40 billion of rail assets including trains are owned by the government’s Transport Asset Holding Entity. ‘Harebrained idea’: Secret plan to commercialise state’s public transport, roads
RELATED ARTICLE Seven people were killed and dozens injured when a Tangara train derailed near Waterfall station, south of Sydney, in January 2003. The cover-up of a ‘financial mirage’ that has inflated the NSW budget and may put rail safety at risk
Leadership turmoil deepens crisis enveloping $40b rail corporation. Adele Ferguson and Matt O'Sullivan August 20, 2021
A controversial $40 billion rail corporation set up by the NSW government six years ago to artificially inflate the state budget is in turmoil amid revelations it has appointed its third chief executive in just over a year.
The leadership fiasco at the Transport Asset Holding Entity comes as the NSW Auditor-General announced it will conduct a deep-dive audit into its affairs which will be released in a separate report to Parliament.
The Herald revealed this week that the government seriously considered commercialising the entire public transport and road networks as part of its plans for TAHE, which were designed to boost the budget by shifting billions of dollars of costs into the state-owned corporation.About $40 billion of rail assets including trains are owned by the government’s Transport Asset Holding Entity.CREDIT:KATE GERAGHTY
A revolving door of CEOs at TAHE since July last year has raised further questions about its future, as internal documents show the government has considered winding up the entity.
Growing concerns within the highest levels of the public sector about TAHE, which has just 20 staff, adds further pressure to the Berejiklian government, which is under fire for its handling of the latest COVID-19 outbreak.
Shadow treasurer Daniel Mookhey said the government had clearly struggled to find a CEO willing to bet their reputation on “this budget trick”.
“This organisation is either an accounting sham trying to masquerade as real business or it is Australia’s most incompetently run corporation,” he said.
“[Treasurer] Dominic Perrottet has to take responsibility. He has let a company the size of Telstra go without a permanent CEO for more than a year.”
A spokesman for Mr Perrottet, who is one of the government’s two voting shareholders of TAHE, said a new full-time CEO would commence in the role shortly as intended.
The controversy surrounding TAHE comes as Treasury secretary Michael Pratt faces a grilling at a budget estimates hearing on Friday.
Treasurer Dominic Perrottet is one of the government’s two voting shareholders of TAHE.CREDIT:EDWINA PICKLES
A trove of internal documents released to Parliament also shows that TAHE has paid high salaries to attract executives.
TAHE company secretary Andrew Alam, who previously worked for NSW Treasury, is paid $465,814 a year via a consultancy firm he set up shortly after leaving Treasury. It puts him on a higher remuneration than Premier Gladys Berejiklian and more than twice that of a secretary on a publicly listed company.
It can also be revealed that TAHE has appointed Benedicte Colin, a former boss of public transport group Keolis Downer, as its new chief executive.
Ms Colin, who more recently worked at a Canadian pension fund, will start next month, taking over from David Jurd, who was appointed interim CEO on April 26.
Mr Jurd replaced the inaugural CEO Anne Hayes, a former Sydney Trains finance director, who was appointed in an acting role in June last year, days before TAHE’s deadline to transition into a state-owned corporation, which required a board and a chief executive.
According to a ministerial briefing note in early May, Ms Hayes “took planned sick leave from TAHE on 27 April 2021 and will not return, having already been advised that she was not successful in the permanent CEO recruitment process”.
The briefing note said Mr Jurd’s appointment was for an “initial period of four months while work continues in sourcing a suitable candidate for the role of permanent CEO”.
Mr Jurd is a former executive of construction giant Lend Lease. He was the boss of its Abigroup subsidiary until October 2012 when he quit a month after the company launched an investigation into accounting discrepancies relating to two road projects worth $1.5 billion. At the time, Mr Jurd said his work at Lend Lease involved “no impropriety”.
The government declined to say what it paid its CEOs at TAHE, but a source close to the board, who asked for anonymity, said it had discussed payments of up to $1 million a year, although it was more likely to be between $600,000 to $800,000.
Documents reveal that the CEO pay requires the approval of the government’s two voting shareholders, Mr Perrottet and Finance Minister Damien Tudehope.
A whistleblower, who has intimate knowledge of TAHE, said the revolving door of leaders smacks of chaos.
“Serious legitimacy gaps have made it hard for Treasury and the board to source a credible CEO, despite the high salaries TAHE is paying,” he said. “This has resulted in a leadership vacuum and low morale among staff.”
The whistleblower said it was difficult to attract a wide range of candidates to apply “when no one knows what TAHE is, what it does or even if it will still exist in a year”.
TAHE confirmed that Ms Colin had been appointed CEO but said it was not appropriate to comment on the “circumstances of individual staff members”.
“The appointment and remuneration of TAHE employees and conduct of staff is managed in accordance with all relevant government policies and processes,” it said.
NSW Treasury referred questions about TAHE to Transport for NSW.
RELATED ARTICLE About $40 billion of rail assets including trains are owned by the government’s Transport Asset Holding Entity. ‘Harebrained idea’: Secret plan to commercialise state’s public transport, roads
RELATED ARTICLE Seven people were killed and dozens injured when a Tangara train derailed near Waterfall station, south of Sydney, in January 2003. The cover-up of a ‘financial mirage’ that has inflated the NSW budget and may put rail safety at risk
RELATED ARTICLE Composite of the NSW Treasury document and a Transport for NSW train. ‘Budget lie’: Internal forecasts show rail entity propping up state’s finances
* Just privatise the Countrylink services and then we might get better trains and services.
* Third rate Premier, third rate Ministers in a third rate State Government. The best go into Federal Politics and just look at how bad that Liberal and National Government is. No wonder the rejects in the State Liberal Party are so bad.
* Perrottet must go; what a galah.
* All one can say is ‘read and weep taxpayers of NSW’ The buck stops with the Premier and only her resignation will be acceptable quell the public outcry .
* How does Dominic Perrottet still have a job?
* Another day, another bit of scandal.
* Another step in the LNPs aims to privatize. Public Transport is a public service just as politicians are supposed to serve the public.
* If there is any honor and any accountability left in this government Minister Perrottet must fall on his sword. The Premier should go with him. NSW public assets, or what's left of them, are not for sale.
* Very interesting. Don’t let this drop!
Working from home throws spanner in works for major Brisbane transport projects Tony Moore August 20, 2021
Brisbane’s new multibillion-dollar transit projects are likely to feel the financial impact of fewer people working from the CBD because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Queensland government’s $5.4 billion Cross River Rail and Brisbane City Council’s $1.23 billion Brisbane Metro projects included fundamental assumptions in their business cases about how, when and where commuters moved.
A near-deserted Queen Street Mall during the height of Brisbane’s lockdown.CREDIT:MATT DENNIEN
Both projects are geared to new jobs being produced in the Brisbane CBD and to workers travelling between the suburbs and the city.
“While most residential growth is forecast to be outside Brisbane in areas such as the Gold Coast, Moreton Bay, Ipswich and the Sunshine Coast, almost half of all new jobs will remain in Brisbane,” Cross River Rail’s 2017 business case says.
The Brisbane Metro’s fleet of 60 electric buses plans to add an extra 19,600 daily commuters to its network by 2024, according to its updated business case.
However, the pandemic has changed those assumptions.
The first of two tunnel-boring machines working on the Cross River Rail project break through to the new Roma Street station cavern on Friday.
An Infrastructure Australia report into the pandemic’s impact on infrastructure found about a third of the nation’s workforce, almost 4 million people, worked from home during the first year of the pandemic. About 42 per cent of those then hoped to continue working from home going forward.
A new Infrastructure Australia report into post-pandemic usage is due within weeks.
PricewaterhouseCoopers director Ben Hamer said while COVID-19 had not killed CBDs, it would force major changes to a hybrid work/home office model going forward.
“We have seen in Australian workers, 74 per cent of them want to work two to three days at home and the rest in the office,” Dr Hamer said.
“Only 10 per cent want to work five days from the office, while 16 per cent want to work five days week from home.”
Dr Hamer said these percentages were aspirational, “but it does show a realistic mood of moving away from the office”.
Such a fundamental shift could spell bad news for major transport projects, designed with pre-COVID habits in mind.
Fewer passengers on public transport will also force the Queensland government to pay more to cover the expenses of every journey.
The state subsidy for train journeys has doubled from $21.15 to $40.97 per fare due to the pandemic patronage slump.
Subsidies per south-east Queensland bus trips increased from $4.02 to $7.30.
Infrastructure Australia chief policy researcher Peter Colacino said, before the latest wave of lockdowns, public transport patronage had settled to about 70 per cent of pre-COVID levels.
Mr Colacino said as new work models became entrenched mass transit projects which ran in and out of CBDs would need to augmented by newer services running across neighbourhoods.
“Public transport will need to change,” he said.
Mr Colacino said mass transit needed to evolve because the future job of the CBD was building ideas and products from teams in collaboration, while the work from homes would be maintaining lifestyle services.
“Public transport isn’t just directed towards taking you in to the CBD, it thinks about where you go to drop your kids at daycare, and pick your kids up from school,” he said.
But the politicians overseeing both projects say there is no cause for alarm.
Queensland Transport Minister Mark Bailey said the pandemic had certainly made “short-term impacts” on patronage in 2020 and 2021.
“Part of that is people working from home much more and part of that is people being ultra-cautious about public transport during the pandemic,” he said.
Mr Bailey said he did not believe public transport patronage would return until vaccination rates were over 70 per cent.“But how many, and at what rate, that is the unknown,” he said.
Mr Bailey said it was too early to gauge the impact of extra people working from home on Cross River Rail, which was due to open in 2025.
“That is four years away,” he said.
“It is very hard to make an estimation of patronage for 2025, but we certainly hope we are in a much more normal state of being in 2025 than we are this year, or even next year.”
Brisbane City Council’s transport committee chairman Ryan Murphy said the death of the CBD has been “greatly exaggerated”.
“We need to just treat the concept with a little caution because if we plan for one-third of the workforce working remotely, then we don’t build that extra capacity into the busway network,” he said.
“Then we will be in real trouble come 2032 and the Olympics and Paralympics.”
Cr Murphy said public transport and work-from-home trends were difficult to predict.
“Basing long-term projections on what is happening right now during COVID-19 would be just as problematic as trying to base everything on this new normal where everyone is going to spend some time at home,” he said.
“... Our university sector is so important to our city and these people don’t own cars. Students don’t own cars. They have to use the public transport network.”
Cr Murphy said he doubted poor public transport patronage would continue beyond 2022 and the “freshness” of Brisbane Metro electric buses, which he said will be well above the “clunky agricultural feel” of older buses, would attract commuters.
“More and more people are getting their vaccinations, and we have seen other cities start to return to ‘normality’ once vaccination rates are higher,” he said.
“I don’t think we can expect lower patronage to continue into 2023 when the Brisbane Metro starts to come online.”
Victorian crisis looms as majority of 55 new cases not in isolation. Mitch Clarke, Tom Minear, Tess Ikonomou and Nathan Mawby August 20, 2021. 2684 comments
MELBOURNE BUS DRIVERS IN ISOLATION
Hundreds of bus drivers have also been sent into isolation after their workplace was deemed an exposure site, with services in Melbourne’s west cancelled over a driver shortage. The 291 drivers employed by bus operator Transdev, are based at the Sunshine West Depot and have been tested because it is located within the Sunshine West industrial precinct – which has been identified as a Tier 2 exposure site.
Train horns: Brunswick East’s Carol Drew wants reduction in horn use Kimberley Seedy August 20, 2021 Northcote Leader
Stressed residents are pleading with Metro drivers to lay off their horns, likening the repeated blasts to “Chinese water torture”.
A Brunswick East woman wants Metro train drivers to put the brakes on using their horns, saying the repeated blasts are impacting residents’ health.
Carol Drew lives within 5km of two train lines and likened hearing the “constant” blasts to “Chinese water torture”.
Ms Drew’s petition, calling for a reduction in the noise pollution from train horns, has been tabled in the Legislative Council, sponsored by the Leader of the Victorian Greens Dr Samantha Ratnam.
Leader understands in order for community members to have their petitions tabled in parliament, they need an MP to sponsor it, with the MP not actually behind the petition, or the push for it.
Ms Ratnam was contacted for comment and asked if she supported the petition, but a spokesperson referred questions to Ms Drew.
Ms Drew wants drivers to use their horns in emergencies only.
“Residents and workers near railways are subjected to frequent horn blasts hundreds of times a week and almost always as a matter of routine at any time of the day or night,” the petition states.
“The horns are supposed to be a low-cost solution to safety, but the true costs are externalised in the form of noise pollution.”
Ms Drew said people living near railways across Melbourne were sharing their grievances in the Halt the Horns group.
“No one is putting the train drivers down of anything like that, I just think they need to be aware it’s an unpleasant sound, a train horn, for many people,” she said.
“And when you’re hearing it that frequently it just really … your heart rate does start to increase when you hear them, because you’re just waiting for the next one.
“It really does have a negative impact.”
More than 1000 people have signed Carol Drew’s petition calling for a reduction in train horn use.
The repeated blasts have forced her to install double glazed windows and wear headphones to listen to programs on her computer.
She also experiences headaches every day.
Ms Drew said modern developed countries had now worked out that horn use was an real problem for people, and had come up with alternative safety solutions.
“We can have really safe railways; we don’t need antiquated train horns anymore, unless there is an emergency,” she said.
“I think train drivers would be shocked to hear some of the problems people are having because of the train horns; it is keeping people up at night, people are stressed.”
A Metro spokesperson said the sounding of train horns was a critical safety requirement for its rail network.
“There are stringent safety requirements around the use of train horns – and our drivers adhere to national standards,” the spokesperson said.
“Drivers sound horns on approach to level crossings, and to ensure people in and around railway stations, and along train lines, are aware of a moving train.
“Unlike a car, our drivers can’t swerve the train or bring it to a stop quickly – that’s why horns are so critical to keeping people safe.”
Under transport regulations, train drivers are required to sound the horn as a safety critical device, regardless of the time of day or night, on the following occasions:
• When approaching a station if not stopping.
• Prior to departure from a station.
• When approaching a road level crossing and/or pedestrian crossing.
• When operating through a road level crossing and/or pedestrian crossing.
• If the driver’s vision is obscured.
• When employees are working near the line.
• At any other time the driver deems it to be necessary.
Train horns blasted by angry neighbours
Blaring horns are driving him mad
Metro deals with all complaints on train horns through a robust complaints handling process.
The train horn sound and general operational sound of trains have specific exemptions in the Transport Act.
* The 'legal' requirements for horn blowing are obsolete. All surviving level crossings and nearly all pedestrian crossings now have boom barriers and closing gates: the need for prolonged and repeated horn blowing is removed. I do note a sensible interpretation by most drivers: more whistling by day, when crossings are busier; minimal at night, when crossings are deserted and residents are attempting to sleep. Since the legislation was enacted, all modern trains have door closing and locking. The requirement to blow before leaving a station shouldn't apply any more. Real metros have no such requirement: the door-closing buzzer suffices. For the smug brigade (trains were there first), the new trains have louder horns than the old ones, not the volumes which were there when we bought near a train line.
* Who was there first? Train line or resident? If you purchased there, buyer beware. Thanks
* Train drivers don't choose when to sound the whistle, it's a legal requirement under the law to sound the whistle at every whistle board (they're 200 meters from a level crossing), when going through a level crossing and when departing a platform, or also passing through a station platform when not stopping. These rules mean that when an idiot person steps out in front of a train without looking the train driver does not end up in coroner's court. Not following these rules means a train driver will be fired. While we have train related deaths every few days in Victoria, these laws regarding whistles won't change. Don't bother wasting your time.
* do you have to signal the horn at 12am? Can understand during peak of the day but no use of these horns in the early am hours when majority of people are trying to sleep. I live kilometres from station and can hear it god knows how it must be for those that live adjutant to a train station.
* That's one of the reasons houses immediately adjacent to a railways line are generally always 10-15% less in value than an equivalent house just a couple of streets away. I live 750 metres from a train station on Melbourne's busiest train line. Yes I hear the horns sometimes, other times I guess i've found a way to switch off from them. But I certainly wouldn't compare it to "chinese water torture". Seems like just another inner city greenie choosing to live in the inner city but not wanting to put up with the noise of living in the inner city.
* I’m pretty sure that the trains and their horns have been there well before these residents that moved into these places and started to complain. my question is, why would you love to a place that has this noise, and then kick a stink up about it!
* The trains were using the line well before you resided there. The horns are for safety. One person whinging?
* If you dont like the horn save up a little more money and buy yourself a house away from the train. If you buy a house near the train then thats what you get. Just like if you buy one near a tip or busy road.
* Simple, move.
* Trains blow the horn for Safety The Train has been in the district for over 100 years
Fri.20.8.21 Melbourne Herald Sun No gas shortage: Origin [with ATN]
Fri.20.8.21 Melbourne Herald Sun 30-year vision MATT JOHNST0N, TESS IKONOMOU & KIERAN ROONEY
A DRAMATIC upgrade to the rail network, which would shut down parts of the City Loop, and a London-style charge for cars in inner Melbourne have been called for by the state’s infrastructure advisory body.
The overhaul of the CBD’s underground rail lines is one of four mega transport projects that are a centrepiece of Infrastructure Victoria’s new 30-year blueprint, released on Thursday.
Building an outer metropolitan road and rail corridor around far northern and western suburbs, ﬁxing trafﬁc light sequences on arterials, and extending suburban rail lines are other key initiatives that would deliver bang for bucks in the $lOObn plan.
Once the current $l3.7bn Metro rail tunnel is complete by 2025, there will be a brief “window” of opportunity to fix the City Loop by building 3km of extra tunnels, according to the body.
This would allow significantly more trains to run, let northern rail extend towards Wallan and ease congestion in Seymour and Shepparton.
The government should also plan a Metro 2 rail line from Clifton Hill to Newport, and protect the corridor for a new cross-city road tunnel — similar to the East West Link killed off by Labor. But Infrastructure Victoria said there was “no immediate need for a connection between the Eastern Freeway and CityLink”.
Lord Mayor Sally Capp backed planning to be completed for the Metro 2 planning that includes a new station at Fishermans Bend.
Along with big-ticket items, Melbourne should trial a congestion charge in the CBD and encourage off-peak travel with cheaper toll and public transport prices, the report says.
Cars driving into the CBD during peak times would be hit hardest under the plan, with charges rising when traffic volumes were higher.
Car registration and other fixed vehicle costs would also be overhauled within the decade and scrapped for a user-pays system, where motorists are charged based on distance and time travelled.
Infrastructure Victoria chief executive Michel Masson said the recommendations “consider the medium to longer-term impacts of the pandemic”.
Crippling congestion headaches are expected in Melbourne’s outer north and west and southeast, where 30 per cent of growth will occur by 2035.
But the CBD will still be a hub for jobs and activity and more investment is needed to help people at the city’s edges move around.
“Public transport demand is expected to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic in the medium to long term, with passenger demand expected to peak at 110 per cent of capacity before 2036,” the report reads.
Under state laws, the government must respond to the plan within 12 months.
Fri.20.8.21 Melbourne Herald Sun Suburban rail loop. MATT JOHNSTON
In 2018, Dan Andrews promised Victorians a big new suburban rail loop. The underground tunnel would link radial “spokes” of the old rail network while connecting major jobs hubs.
Since that time — it was shortly before the state election, as luck would have it — his government has frantically assessed the project’s merits.
Oh, and a little thing called cost. On Thursday afternoon all was revealed in a lengthy investment case that showed the first 26km section would cost $34.5bn.
Victorians have never dreamt of a transport project costing even half that amount.
Before this, the North East Link toll road between the Eastern Freeway and the M80 was clubhouse leader at $l5.8bn.
Now it seems like money is make-believe; that we’re playing a giant game of Monopoly with Treasurer Tim Pallas as Rich Uncle Pennybags doling out $200 as we pass Go.
Victoria’s Suburban Rail Loop Minister Jacinta Allan (they’re so serious about this project there’s a minister for it) said you’ve got to look past the dollars. Allan and Andrews like to ask Victorians to imagine the cost of NOT building the new link.
What happens if you jam millions of extra people into Melbourne over coming decades and force them in and out of the CBD for work?
This is a valid question. In fact, one hopes this was the starting point for the brains trust who came up with the plan.
The fact its route crosses state seats Labor wanted to win at the last election was a bonus
(Side note — Labor won off the Liberals the seats of Box Hill, Burwood, and Mount Waverley.)
The investment case released on Thursday has detailed modelling about travel and employment opportunities through this project, with an extra 45,000 people housed around station precincts.
Much like Monopoly, property portfolios are crucial.
Yes, the pandemic has paused population growth.
But as the government infrastructure advisory body set up by Andrews to “take the politics out of infrastructure” said this week, it will accelerate again soon.
While $2.5bn has been sunk on planning and early works already, the state opposition could promise NOT to build it after next year's election.
Labor won’t be signing contracts just before the poll, like the Liberals did on the East West Link in 2014.
Labor famously justified throwing away taxpayer money when killing the EWL by saying the return on investment for the ﬁrst stage of the project was terrible.
That’s more difficult with this rail loop, because the government only chose to model stages 1 and 2 of the project together to come up with a positive beneﬁt-cost ratio.
Much like the two stages of the EWL, the whole plan is what makes the ﬁrst stage sing.
Of course, if the Liberals choose to dump the SRL they will need to tell people in seats they want to win why they won’t build them a shiny ne train set or deliver job opportunities on their doorstep.
An alternative plan to deal with population growth and jobs will have to be clearly spelt out, and it would have tens of billions of dollars in Monopoly money to play with.
This project will be a critical state election issue, and will define Melbourne’s future.
Who said that the politics of infrastructure was dead?
Fri.20.8.21 Melbourne Herald Sun Suburban rail loop. MATT JOHNSTON & KIERAN ROONEY
PREMIER Daniel Andrews’s election pledge to build a 26km underground rail line between Melbourne’s southeast and eastern suburbs will cost an unprecedented $34.5bn.
An investment case for the Suburban Rail Loop was released on Thursday — three years after the state govemment said it would tunnel between Cheltenham and Box Hill to start a new orbital rail system.
The report says the project is justified if the eastern section opens by 2035 and a northern section between Box Hill and Melbourne Airport is built by the middle of the century.
There is no price for the second stage, but it’s likely to cost more than stage 1 given the tunnel would be 8km longer.
The massive project, which is designed to eventually stretch around to Werribee, would get a return on investment by boosting the economy through new jobs hubs, higher-density living and congestion reductions.
The first section would lead to an extra 47,500 people living around station precincts being built at Cheltenham, Clayton, Monash University, Glen Waverley, Burwood and Box Hill — on top of expected population growth.
It could also result in driverless trains on the new network.
Suburban Rail Loop Minister Jacinta Allan said modelling showed a $58.7bn economic and social beneﬁt to the state once the ﬁrst two sections were built by mid-century.
But the same analysis was not applied to the ﬁrst section in isolation, meaning a return on that $34.5bn investment was not modelled.
A massive change to the planning scheme is set to follow construction of stage l, to allow the densiﬁcation of suburbs in a l600sqm zone around stations.
To ensure speculative buying doesn’t send the project off the rails, a hefty developer-contribution tax is likely to be attached to land near stations from 2025.
However, Ms Allan ruled out family homes and second investment property owners from being whacked with the tax.
Other value-capture charges that account for increases to land values or windfalls from building higher-density offices and apartments are also being considered.
For the ﬁrst stage, land values around these precincts are tipped to increase by $4.3bn for residential and $3.8bn for non-residential by 2056.
“Potential changes in planning policy will enable developers to leverage increased demand and develop at higher densities to achieve higher sales values and volumes,” the report reads.
When the government announced the plan in 2018, it had no detail attached and it has not been assessed by transport infrastructure bodies.
Mr Andrews said it would connect nearly all of Melbourne’s radial rail lines to a new network and create major economic opportunities.
Since then, the government has committed $2.5bn to early works and says its entire plan would see 600,000 car trips avoided.
On top of this, tens of thousands of j obs would be created.
Ms Allan said the project would be largely paid for by the state, which was negotiating with the commonwealth for a contribution.
The investment case predicts that if the loop is built over the next 30 years, there would be 46,500 additional homes in Melboume’s north and east, more than one million square metres of new ofﬁce space and 502,000sqm of retail space.
Ms Allan said the project was needed as Melbourne became a city of nine million people by the middle of the century.
“Victoria can’t afford not to build the Suburban Rail Loop,” she said. “With that population growth, our transport system will be under great pressure if we don’t make an intervention.”
Opposition transport spokesman David Davis said the investment case did not canvass any alternatives to the expensive project and was not “honest”.
“We know Labor’s costings are always wrong, they are always underestimating the true cost,” he said.
“Like with the Metro and the West Gate Tunnel, they are routinely billions of dollars out.
“When these factors are taken into account the phony beneﬁts cost ratio ﬁgures fade to massively negative.”
Fri.20.8.21 Melbourne Herald Sun Infrastructure Victoria
[I looked up the site: it doesn't have any infrastructure people, just economists. Of course they espouse congestion taxes and peak-period fare surcharges]
JIM MILLER IS CHAIR OF INFRASTRUCTURE VICTORIA
ANYONE working in infrastructure planning cringes at the very mention of Utopia — the hilarious TV show set at the ﬁctional Nation Building Authority.
It’s possible, like me, they’ve been asked to draw comparisons between the program and their own organisation at more than one barbecue.
As chair of Victoria’s independent infrastructure advisory body, I delight in telling them infrastructure planning here is vastly different to the haphazard, bumbling train wreck in the show.
At Infrastructure Victoria our job is to independently assess and help guide the infrastructure policy and investment decisions of the government. We advise, it decides.
The government completed or made progress on 90 per cent of the 137 recommendations in our first 30-year strategy, developed in 2016.
On Thursday we presented an updated version to parliament, responding to changes in our society, including the long-lasting impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, such as where Victorians live and how they travel.
A good infrastructure strategy is more than a wish list of projects.
More than half our recommendations are for policy changes and reforms to reduce the pressure on the infrastructure we already have.
We have identified the construction projects that are absolutely required, representing around $lOObn in capital spend over 30 years.
For example, we recommend the government begin planning to reconfigure the City Loop for more frequent and reliable services, extend suburban train lines in Melbourne’s growing outer north and west, and prepare for the
Outer Metropolitan Ring Road.
Victoria will need these projects regardless of changing travel and work patterns caused by Covid-19.
We also found Melbourne Metro 2 — a new rail tunnel connecting Clifton Hill and Newport though the CBD and Fishermans Bend — offers signiﬁcant economic beneﬁts.
It also provides an option for faster, direct Geelong services to the city.
On the other hand, we found a cross-city motorway will do little to ease congestion in the short term.
Victoria can also immediately upgrade outdated road technology systems for better traffic light control to speed up traffic flow and introduce a range of pricing changes to support safer, fairer and faster travel, such as cheaper fares for buses and off-peak travel.
Despite the pandemic, Melbourne and Victoria will continue to grow and the statewide strategy presents a practical road map of 94 recommendations across all types of infrastructure.
Fri.20.8.21 Melbourne Herald Sun editorial
OUR mega transport projects are revealed to be at the heart of Infrastructure Victoria’s vision to deal with Melbourne’s growing pains over the next three decades.
The blueprint’s big-ticket items are an extra 3km of rail tunnels to extend the city network, a new road and rail corridor around far northern and western suburbs, correcting traffic light sequences on main roads and the extension of suburban rail lines.
Infrastructure Victoria says these, and other ideas, are crucial for Melbourne to thrive especially after the pandemic pause.
Yet the key to unlocking the Infrastructure Victoria vision is the state government’s willingness to heed the advice and modelling of the independent advisory body.
The Suburban Rail Loop represents a case in point. Not on any expert’s mind, never mind in any planning document, the circular metropolitan rail line came out of nowhere in 2018, seemingly on a political impulse.
The self-interested nature of the rail loop proposal flew in the face of Premier Daniel Andrews’ posturing to take the politics out of infrastructure projects.
Indeed, only now has a business case been released. New ﬁgures yesterday revealed that the first 26km of the loop would cost up to a staggering $34.5bn — a big amount given the amount of debt the state is weighed down with.
And that total is just for the ﬁrst section between Cheltenham and Box Hill which would open by 2035.
The Infrastructure Victoria $100bn masterplan meanwhile comes at a crucial time for the state, poised to hopefully emerge from the pandemic burdens next year.
The plan seeks to address many transport issues in the outer suburbs.
Recommendations such as extended suburban lines and ﬁxing traffic lights on arterial roads will be welcomed by stressed commuters and residents building new homes in the growth corridors of Melbourne’s outer-north and west and southeast, where severe congestion looms.
Of course, it’s essential that all ideas for the state’s proposed next big build are costed and assessed properly, with a timely reminder coming yesterday. The state’s auditor-general warned major state government projects were not being planned properly to cope with the rising demand for materials and labour.
These problems resulted in projects falling behind schedule and budgets blowing out, with the reporl coming just a week after Transurbar estimated the West Gate Tunnel cost had ballooned by at least $3.3bn.
Infrastructure Victoria has also proposed a trial within five years of 1 CBD congestion charge. Motorists entering the toll zone during busy periods would pay more.
This controversial idea has been ﬂoated with the state government twice before. And just like then, it’s unlikely to find much support from the travelling public and city traders
At a time when the city centre is on its knees after 18 months of pandemic pain and repeated lockdowns, it can ill-afford more barriers to workers, shoppers and tourists coming into the city.
The Infrastructure Victoria report itself confirms that city centre will continue to be the economic engine room of the state — even with employees retaining some of their work-from-home habits.
Another initiative to ease the commuter crush is for off-peak fares on public transport to be halved, as well as the reduction of bus and tram fares. These changes have been floated before and could now work with greater workplace ﬂexibility demanded by the pandemic.
It will also be interesting to see how the government responds to two other big transport projects. It’s being urged to consider Metro 2 — a rail line from Clifton Hill through the CBD to Newport — and to keep its options open for a cross-city road tunnel, similar to the East West Link that
Labor spent $1.1bn not to build, but still regarded as vital to the city’s transport future.