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All transport options should be considered

27 Feb 2019

All transport options should be considered Image

By Keith Sutherland, chairman, Yarra Residents Action Group

After an exhaustive process the Fishermans Bend Planning Review Panel handed its final report to the state government late last year and several recommendations were made looking to the future of this exciting redevelopment and infrastructure project.

One of the main contentious issues for residents of Docklands and Yarra’s Edge was the issue of a tram bridge from Collins to Lorimer streets.

In the original “draft for consultation” framework it was identified that the Jacobs Report Stage 1 study only assessed above-ground river crossing options.

The review panel acknowledged that this provided little comfort to property and boat owners of the broader community. 

The review panel appreciated our submission of an alternative option to the tram river crossing but ruled that it was outside its terms of reference.

We have now identified three alternative options which we believe are far better and cheaper and should be considered and evaluated prior to making a disastrous decision.

(1) Immersed tube under the Yarra close to Bolte Bridge and under Lorimer St would eliminate the need for two expensive tram bridges plus tram crossing and property acquisitions.

And it could be used to remove container trucks off extremely busy Lorimer St by using the tube to shift containers from Webb to Swanson Dock possibly using automated robotics. This would reduce traffic congestion along Lorimer St and the Montague intersection which is one of Melbourne’s busiest.

(2) With some minor adjustments, trams routes 12, 96 and 109 can be rationalised to use Queens Bridge which is home to Melbourne’s most under utilised tram route, 58. This would eliminates undesirable traffic impacts and would require new tram tracks for about 400 metres along City Rd. 

This option recommends the full use of tram route 109 up to the crossing of Boundary St and from this point, the Fishermans Bend tram could branch off anywhere within the new precinct including the full length of Plummer St.

(3) The latest in transport innovation and technology are “trackless trams” or autonomous rail transport (ART) which appear to be the most exciting way of the future in transport needs. 

Trackless trams are neither a tram or a bus and they run on roads and have rubber wheels and can reach speeds up to 70 kmh and can carry up to 300 people. With five carriages they can carry up to 500 people. In three years of trials no impact on road surfaces have been found.

The ART are a huge improvement from light rail and considerably cheaper. Light rail in Sydney and the Gold Coast have cost about $120 million per kilometre and it’s believed trackless Trams cost around $6-$8 million per kilometre.

It replaces the noise and emissions of buses with electric traction from batteries recharged at stations in 30 seconds or at the end of the line in 10 minutes.

Why would the state government rush to make an important decision using old technology when the Fishermans Bend redevelopment extends to 2050?

The review panel accepts that providing public transport infrastructure requires detailed planning and assessment, design and business case development, which we would totally agree with.

They also stated, and I quote, “no doubt, this task would most likely be an iterative process, taking some time to complete”. 

It has been suggested that PTV/ Andrews Government have already made a decision so does that mean it’s been a sham review process looking at alternatives to a tram bridge? 

The government stated that it had set aside $1 million for a business case so hopefully that will be made available prior to making any decisions on a tram bridge.

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