Suburban Rail Loop station design prompts mayors to demand redesign

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The federal government has pledged $2.2 billion for the project, but has not said whether it will commit to the full $11.5 billion Victoria is seeking to build the first eastern section of the loop. . The project has not been assessed by the advisory body Infrastructure Australia.

A Age An investigation revealed last August how the loop was designed in a secret and dubious process by PwC consultants, which excluded most state cabinet members and the head of the transport department of the time.

Commuters face a disjointed connection between Box Hill station (pictured) and the new loop line. Credit:Eddie Jim

The City of Whitehorse is also requesting an underground walkway to connect Box Hill station and the new loop station, to allow faster and easier transfers to the Lilydale and Belgrave lines.

Mayor Tina Liu said the current design will lead to poor connectivity, requiring passengers to exit the loop station, walk 205 meters through a busy shopping mall, and then walk back down to the subway station (about three minutes walk) or climb an escalator at the bus interchange (a four-minute walk).

“It seems like SRL is looking at this project in isolation, when they should be looking at it… more holistically, as an integrated transportation solution,” Liu said. She said the council would step up its advocacy for an overhaul.

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Almost half of passengers using the rail tunnel will transfer to or from metro, tram or bus services, according to planning documents. At the new Cheltenham and Clayton stations, the proportion will be close to three-quarters.

Early work on the first 26 kilometer eastern section of the project, from Cheltenham to Box Hill, began last month.

A government spokeswoman said the project “continues to study options for interchanges at the station to ensure they are as fast, safe and convenient as possible.

“The passenger experience is at the heart of the planning of SRL Est stations. Cheltenham, Clayton, Glen Waverley and Box Hill will include quick and easy connections to existing rail lines – you won’t have to touch and go when transferring to and from SRL trains.

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Cheltenham station will have the worst transfer times, with commuters forced to travel nearly half a mile on a footbridge across Bay Road to the tube station and bus interchange at Southland Shopping Centre, taking more than six minutes.

The City of Kingston is pushing for an underground connection between the two stations and for the construction of a “bus loop” at the new William Fry Reserve Rail Loop station, to allow for faster transfers.

“People could get from station to station through a mall, and it would be a comfortable and easy way to make their trip,” Mayor Steve Staikos said.

Although they are pushing for design changes, the three mayors generally support the project.

Daniel Bowen, from the Association of Public Transport Users, said many station designs suggested a poor outcome for passengers and that the best rail systems in the world made interchange as quick and easy as possible.

“It really affects its appeal to use,” he said. “The danger is that an inferior experience for rail passengers for decades to come will undermine the appeal of using public transport for these suburban trips.”

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