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Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Blinky the bear sounds off!

How much can a koala bear?

While out walking last week your blogger and ever-faithful blue heeler happened upon an irate local resident.

Upon inquiring of the cause of his trouble, Blinky, of Minchinbury Terrace let fly with such a spray of invective that even the cattle dog from Queanbeyan (see profile pic) visibly blushed.

'Angry? I'm bloody ropable,' he spat. Koalas are notoriously cranky when woken during the day, but it seems this one had deeper issues.

'First I've got to put up with being endangered, but now I hear I'm f**kin' fictitious!!'

How so, I inquired of the foul-mouthed marsupial.

Turns out that the bear's neighbours on Minchinbury Terrace, had tried to alert DPT&I to his existence as part of the 'community consultation' (*sham up*) run by the department back in May. 

Upon being informed that eucalyptus trees lining the road verge formed a wildlife corridor, the departmental bods responded with a dismissive wave and concluded "it's not like you've got koala bears just wandering along the rail corridor, is it?"
Blnky of Marion, eyes up the chainsaws

'How do they think I get along it? Catch a taxi?' said Blinky, again unleashing the kind of cursing that would do a sailor proud, but is seldom heard in the dress circle of Marion. 

Blinky maintains that he's worked bloody hard for this country, what with putting us on the map as a travel destination for Asian newlyweds and the rest... With all the corporate offshoring, Blinky reckons he's had the devil's own job trying to get the balance of payments sorted.  

'Would it kill you to buy Australian?' opined the national treasure.

Not one to idly whinge, or take things lying down, Blinky undertook to get DPTI's attention via the Oaklands Estate Residents' Association.  In fact, he went straight to the top of the tree (where the leaves are sweeter), organising a meeting with the President, which was recorded in the association's latest newsletter.

'Fred was alright', said Blinky, 'Nice bloke. Bushwalker - dunno where he finds the energy. But at least he didn't treat me like a friggin' unicorn!'

Fred wrote to DPT&I to ask them to clarify what exactly was involved in tree pruning. 

How much of the canopy is removed exactly and what happens if you 'prune' a tree to death, is that considered removal? Does tree death trigger compensation? Blinky believes OERA is still waiting for a reply.

Similar queries (and more) were put from a resident at number 12 Abbeville.  If you have to take out the big redgum at the end of Bassi Street why not keep the trunk in the ground so that the animals could still use the limbs and hollows he asked? 

Surely this would also stop the kind of slumping we see at the northern end of the platform where a 300 year old redgum was removed two years ago? And shouldn't we prune koala food species lightly and replant something for them to eat?

'If we went to this much trouble at one station, what kind of rail system would we be running?' reasoned the bureaucrats.

'A good one!' said Blinky.

What do you think?

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Monday, 2 September 2013

Have you seen Blinky?

Blinky on the verge: 28 August 2013

Has anyone spotted this koala since the pruning and earthworks began?

This picture was taken at dusk on Monday, August 28 on Minchinbury Terrace at the overpass end of the station.  Since then it's been very noisy due to all the earth works, tree pruning and tree removal.

If you've seen him please send us an email

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Rail users rate the options

Thank you to all residents and rail users who chose to complete our community survey to rate three possible layouts for Marion station.

We tallied all the replies we received and delivered them to DPTI and to Minister Tom Koutsantonis within the timeframe set out by the minister to consult with the local community.

Collection of your responses began at the DPT&I Open Day, held at Hamilton High School on Thursday, July 25. We wanted to give you a chance to attend the open day, listen to DPTI's prsentation, ask questions and then judge the merits of each argument for yourself. Accordingly all respondents were asked to listen to the presentation before completing the survey.

For anyone who wasn't able to make the open day (or did attend but just wanted time to think things through) we collected community surveys from people up to the closure of consultation on Monday, July 29. 

Unacceptable option

From a total of 159 survey respondents, 154 of you rated a subway only option at the station as unacceptable, with one person saying that this option was their first preference, providing it was 'properly designed with minimum overway'.

The other two options were:

  • Option A, a gated level crossing at the northern end of the platform and a pedestrian foot bridge at the southern end of the station, nearest Westminster School oval.
  • Option B, two gated level crossings at either end of the platform.

Acceptable options

Many of you indicated that either A or B were acceptable, with 154 of 159 indicating option A was acceptable and 148 respondents rating option B as acceptable.

First preference

One hundred and four people indicated that option A was their first preference, while 55 indicated a gated level crossing as their first preference.

Disabled, aged and vulnerable

Of the 13 respondents who indicated that you are aged, mobility-impaired (such as walk with a stick or a frame) or commute via a wheelchair, none indicated that the subway was an acceptable option for them.

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Saturday, 27 July 2013

Statistics don't answer Leann's question

Leann from Minchinbury Terrace wanted to pass on a statistic she received in reply to an inquiry made on rail safety this week.

When questioned as to how removing an overpass and a level crossing and providing all pedestrians with a single point of access to the platform could be considered safer, a DPTI representative responded with the following statistics:

"There have been 23 collisions and 717 near misses between pedestrians and trains on the SA Rail network over the last five years" DPT&I rail revitalisation project team.

This is a large, scary number, however, it doesn't really answer Leann's question. Her query relates to whether or not a single point of access (particularly one that people don't want to use - say, like a subway) introduces a rail risk.  

If that point of access encourages trespass, for example, it would seem that Leann is quite correct.


But this statistic is also seems to radically overstate the risks of pedestrian crossings in general and the one at Marion in particular

The most recent publicly available SA data says that of 16 recorded people-train collisions, three occurred at level crossings.

Over 4 of those 5 years:
  • Three  people were hit at pedestrian level-crossings.
  • Thirteen people were hit at platforms, trespassing, or in some other way.
It is also unknown what the extent of injury occurred in these incidents. Note that collisions are presumed to be fatalities. It's not actually clear if they were or not, based on the information Leann received. 

What it does mean?

It seems that the sad reality is that if every level crossing in Adelaide had been removed from the network in the past five years, 13 of the 16 people recorded here would still have been struck by a train.

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Saturday, 20 July 2013

After Warradale, no thanks!

I used to live at Warradale before we moved here to Marion.  I'm not at all keen on this underpass idea. In Warradale we lived two streets back from an underpass. My Dad and my uncle are with the Police, so we've been taught from an early age to steer clear of them. 

I have been in the Warradale one though. Aside from the way people treat the underpass, which is usually as somewhere to vomit or go to the toilet, the one at Warradale has some kind of drug house nearby.  What it means is that people go there to Warradale to score and use the underpass as a safe space for drug taking.  There was always drug paraphenalia down there.

I used to walk down to the next station to use the zig zag crossing closer to Brighton Road rather than use it - which was ridiculous really because we wanted something close to public transport, then you're walking for miles.

We'll be doing the same here if this goes ahead - which is really annoying!  We bought this place because we hoped to send Eamon (2) to Sacred Heart when he's old enough.  We thought it would a great, safe place to live where we could actually walk our kids to school of a morning.  

I'm apprehensive of going into any sort of underpass, especially on my own.

We're glad that the residents here got together to talk about this.  If we hadn't gotten their flyer through our letterbox we would never have known what was being planned.  What kind of consultation is that?

We live two streets back and you think you can just ram through an underpass and no-one will be any the wiser? These people must think we're idiots.

I heard from the meeting that they consulted Westminster, which is good, but I don't imagine they'd be for it. They've got loads of parents there who would feel just as worried as I do about what could happen to their kids.

I know that a lot of people are not aware of some of the issues that we have even in this area, but because I'm from a police family I'm probably more aware than other parents of some of the stuff that can go on.

By all means give us some grade separation - maybe an overpass - as well as a crossing.  I'll use a level crossing with Eamon if we're walking together and when he's old enough I'll tell him to use an overpass or teach him how to cross safely when he's in school.  But what am I supposed to teach him about being stuck in a tunnel with someone who's six foot tall and 32 when he's a young boy of 38-40 kilos? 
The only thing I can teach him is what my Dad told me - steer clear of it! 

Olivia, Abbeville Terrace

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Monday, 8 July 2013

Marion residents have their say on the station

Were you there? 
We might have caught you on camera.
See video footage of residents arriving for the start of Saturday's public meeting where Marion residents made clear their opposition to a proposed rail subway.

"I will ask the minister to put it on hold" Patrick Conlon MP for Elder

This is the biggest street corner meeting I've been to I think - and I've been around a long time!" Vickie Chapman, Shadow Minister for Transport.

Reporting from the Messenger

The Herald Sun National News Online this week ran a story on residents' fight to be heard, with a story entitled 'Angry residents opposed unsafe underpass at Marion station'.

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Sunday, 7 July 2013

Yvonne of Marion calls for gated crossings

Yvonne of Marion has written letters to State MPs on this issue.  She shares some of her thoughts with us below.
As one who has lived near the Marion Railway Station since 1965 I am most interested and concerned at some of the development taking place there. The public meeting at Westminster School on Sunday 23 June was informative. I appreciated the frank and open discussion with representatives of DPTI, and the opportunity to express some worries.
My biggest worry is the safety for all those especially children using the pedestrian crossing. I still recall with horror the tragic accident that occurred before the overpass was built to avoid future deaths. I also know from experience that even with the overpass in place some children and even some adults would jump the railway fence to avoid using it.
My firm opinion is that only an automatic gated level crossing for pedestrians- similar to the existing one at Oaklands Park Railway Station - at BOTH ends of the Marion Station will provide adequate safety.  The proposed underpass at ONE end of the station will not ensure this protection for long. It is inevitable that despite warnings pupils and adults will be jumping fences to take a quicker and shorter but much less safe route.
As a regular user of the railway I am also worried about my personal safety in an underpass, even an open one, when so many stories are told about unfortunate incidents in previous underpasses like those at Edwardstown, Ascot Park and Brighton  stations.
My other concern should the proposed underpass go ahead is that significant trees in the vicinity will be damaged and removed in its construction. I understand that with the electrification of the line safety is paramount, and that some trimming even removal of trees may be needed. Nevertheless this damage to the environment will be minimised if the underpass is not constructed.
May I urge you to replace the existing overpass with automated gated pedestrian crossings at each end of the Marion Station?
Yvonne of Marion

Helen from Park Holme sends her support

I would like to voice my support for the Marion residents who are concerned about the loss of significant trees and the potential dangers of an underpass replacing an overpass at Marion Station.
I would urge the State Government to re-think it's flawed plan and listen to residents - those who have to live with the consequences of the decision.
Firstly, in regard to the trees, do they not realise that it takes a hundred years to replace a hundred year old tree?  Working to "maximise re-planting opportunities" is a joke. Even if a thousand trees were planted to replace the 23 significant trees they would be no compensation for the loss of amenity to residents or the loss of a significant wildlife corridor for birds and other native species.  A rail corridor is one of the few places left that would have appeared to be safe from the bulldozer when significant trees all over the council area are being razed to make way for denser housing.  I know if I were a local resident I would be furious at the suggestion that such trees which formed part of my street-scape were going to be removed.  I expect it would actually decrease the value of houses because of the loss of amenity and appeal to buyers.
Secondly, the underpass sounds like a potential harbour for danger and crime and I fully understand residents who would not want their children using it.  All the lights and cameras in the world do not stop people who are intent on criminal activity!  We know that.  We see it all the time.  And even offenders who are caught are rarely brought to real justice.  We should just avoid creating the potential problem in the first place! The existing overpass could surely be upgraded at a much lower cost, both in monetary terms and to the environment and safety of users.
Council and State government must listen to residents on this matter.  Government is supposed to be there to serve the people not to damage and destroy.

Park Holme

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Have your say, Marion

More than 150 people braved the cold and rain to attend a public meeting organised to discuss plans to remove an existing maze crossing and a pedestrian overpass and instead replace this with an underpass at Marion station.

The proposal came from Department of Planning Transport and Infrastructure (DPT&I) and many residents of Marion were surprised and confused by the sudden announcement, given that just 10 days earlier some residents believed a replacement to the overpass was planned.

In the ensuing days a growing sense of anger and frustration with the department set in as residents began to realise the safety, access and environmental impacts of the proposal.

Saturday's meeting was the first real opportunity residents have had to discuss their concerns.  The public meeting was called by Carolyn Habib, Liberal candidate for Elder, after several local residents approached her with concerns about the lack of planning and genuine community consultation associated with the project.

Also present at Saturday's meeting were Patrick Conlon MP (ALP), Vickie Chapman (Lib) Deputy Leader and Shadow Minister for Transport, Mark Parnell (Greens) and Annabelle Digance ALP federal candidate for Boothby. Mr Luigi Rossi represented DPT&I.

After listening to Dr Paul Gardner-Stephen as the introductory speaker, Carolyn Habib, facilitated the meeting, allowing any resident to ask questions of Mr Rossi and voice their concerns.

Carolyn Habib, facilitating a meeting of Marion residents.

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Safer Marion Station July 6 - introduction

The following speech was the introduction to a public meeting for residents of Marion to be heard on a proposal by DPT&I to remove an at level crossing and overpass and replace it with an underpass as the sole means of pedestrian crossing at Marion Station.

If you couldn't make the meeting, here is the text of the opening address, by local resident Paul Gardner-Stephen.

My wife and I previously lived next to Ascot Park station, which has only an underpass, which is the same situation as is currently proposed for Marion Station, to try to keep people and trains apart.

In the 1990s a young man was in the habit of avoiding the underpass at Ascot Park Station. Whether this was due to the extra distance or the smell and generally revolting state of the underpass we will never know, because one day he was tragically killed when he failed to look for trains before jumping off the platform onto the tracks.  Therefore, removing the level crossing at Marion Station and providing only an underpass may in fact create the kind of danger that it is purported to avoid.

Here at Marion, a young man was tragically killed in 1967 when riding his bicycle across the tracks. This appears to be the major motivation for removing the current  level crossing from the Marion Station now, so that it cannot happen again.  However, the proposed removal of the current level crossing is not supported by the circumstances of that tragic event.

The Southern level crossing at that time was basically a paved road between Farne Terrace and Minchinbury Terrace, with no boom gates, lights, bells or pedestrian barriers - just a couple of bollards on each side so that cars could not fit through to cross the tracks. It was known to be dangerously sub-standard at the time. It was that design that allowed the boy to ride across the path of the oncoming train, without being forced to slow or stop.

The Southern level crossing of 1967 was not a mazed crossing, let alone the modern gated crossing such as have been recently installed at Oaklands Park and Hove Stations.  

During the 1970s all level crossings, from Brighton to Woodlands, were removed from local stations and replaced with underpasses - much as is being proposed for Marion today.  

With the exception of Ascot Park, where the rail bridge does not allow it, all have had level crossings reinstated. In some cases the underpass was demolished because the community was not willing to be forced to use unclean, poorly maintained underpasses that attract crimes against the person, especially the young, the elderly and the vulnerable.

Further, this area has many older people for whom the many stairs or long slopes of an underpass are not realistic for them to use, presenting a possible disability discrimination issue if no level crossing is provided.  This is compounded by the likelihood that people will ride bicycles and other vehicles through the spacious design of the underpass, posing a further safety risk to themselves and pedestrians alike.

This is because forcing people to use an underpass shifts the responsibility of safety from the individual, to a dependence on others to abstain from endangering them.  History shows that people are not willing to have the control of their personal safety taken away like this, especially following assaults.

Therefore, we see it as inevitable that even if the underpass is installed, a level crossing will be constructed either immediately or at some point in the not too distant future, especially given the disability access problems posed if long access ramps are the only option for accessing the station platform. 

Since the underpass is proposed for the northern end of the station, any new level crossing would almost certainly be built at the southern end nearest Westminster School. It would be foolish to assume that the majority of students would not use the level crossing and instead walk the extra 180m to get to the underpass, which we fear will by then be as under maintained and unpleasant as the underpasses at nearby stations.

Thus, any claimed safety benefits of the underpass will be moot, and the opportunity to obtain the safest possible level crossing by investing in complementary safety measures will have been lost, as the electrification budget will have long been spent.

All this will make the loss of the significant trees that must be felled to make way for the underpass all the more bitter - especially since some of the trees were planted by some of the same residents who would no longer be able to access the station.
Therefore we need to consider alternatives to the underpass that take local history and circumstances into account.  We believe that such alternatives exist, that are safer, cheaper, faster to build and more appropriate for the Marion community and environment.  We have proposed one such alternative to demonstrate this, which we have given to the DPTI, and which we would be pleased to show you all. 

We ask the DPTI to engage in genuine public consultation, to give the community real choice, and to ensure that as a result the community and residents around Marion Station receive the best possible outcome for the least possible drain on the public purse. We encourage you all to join us in this call.

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Resident from Abbeville Terrace

As a resident for over 15 years in Abbeville Terrace it alarms me a great deal the recent news of the railway underpass & planned destruction of significant trees along the railway corridor near my home
I purchased a home in this area because of its quiet, safe, beautiful tree lined streets, large blocks & little subdivision.  It is a fantastic neighbourhood with very proud residents, who all maintain their gardens & homes with great pride. From my garden I enjoy the view in the distance of these beautiful gums, with the birdlife, beauty & history they provide. 
As a cyclist, I regularly ride down the Mitchinbury Rail Corridor, & am impressed with the improvements made as part of the Greenways project - the title of which now seems to be at odds with the current plan of destroying so many trees.
I regularly walk my dog along Mitchinbury Terrace, & often use the overpass or level rail crossing near Bassie Street. I would not use the proposed underpass alone due to concerns for my safety at night during winter & would be also reluctant during daylight hours.  It horrifies me to think of what undesirable characters such an underpass would attract, & what this would mean for the safety of residents in the area.

Chris Abbeville Tce.

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Friday, 5 July 2013

OERA calls for Conlon to attend public meeting

Marion residents rally against pedestrian underpass for Noarlunga train line
This story, by Heather Kennett. appeared today in Guardian Messenger.  It includes comment from Oaklands Estate Residents' Association calling for local member Patrick Conlon MP to hear residents' concerns at a public meeting planned for tomorrow.

A new underpass will be built at the Marion train station, but it will involve the removal of several trees. Local residents Barbara Howard, Geoff Wells, Jasmin McGee with grandson Eamon, Samantha Kerr and Milton Howard do not want the trees to be removed. Source: News Limited

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Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Tragic death in 1967

Parents and residents in this area are rightly concerned with keeping children out of the way of moving trains, however, some may be unaware of the history of the tragic death of a school boy at Marion station in 1967.

Licence: CC - by Paul Gardner-Stephen

Long-term residents of this area were horrified and some - including one elected to council at the time - still recall the details of this event. For the benefit of parents and rail planners considering child safety we have reproduced an image of the layout of the station as it was at the time of the accident in 1967.

As you can see the layout of the southern end of the station was quite different. Residents recall that this death took place at an obviously dangerous level crossing located at the southern end of the platform near Westminster School. 

There was a maze crossing located at the northern end of the station, however, the collision did not occur at that crossing. A maze crossing forces pedestrians to look for on-coming trains before deciding to cross. Many people, even at that time, believed that the death occurred there - however this is untrue. 

At the time of the accident there was no impediment of any kind to stop the boy from mounting his bike on the platform, riding down the platform at speed and swooping across the tracks without first looking for trains. The access to the tracks and the station was completely open, so much so that had the bollard been removed you could have driven a car across the tracks and up onto the station platform.

The current overpass was built after the boy’s death  in 1970 at a cost of $35,000.

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Is our 'upgrade' a step back in time?

Residents of Marion have long memories.  Here is a potted history of what people have told us about what they recall of rail deaths at Marion and neighbouring stations.  It appears that the decision to build an underpass amounts to an expensive step backwards for residents and rail users.

The overpass at Marion was constructed for $35,000 in 1970 after a boy at Westminster School collided with a train while riding his bike at the southern end of the station in 1967.  At that time the northern end of the station, the end furthest from the school, had a pedestrian maze. That crossing was not involved in the incident. 
At the southern end, closest to the school, there was no pedestrian maze and no impediment for the boy to ride down the platform and swoop across the tracks without first looking for trains. The current overpass was built after the boy’s death.

The underpass at Ascot Park achieves grade separation (that is pedestrians and trains are physically separated by engineering so that they can never collide accidentally).  It is the sole means provided for pedestrians to safely cross the rail line, however, the darkened tunnel and blind corners make it a magnet for criminal, destructive behaviour – including assaults. The lengthy slope and sense of threat also tends to make it unsuitable for aged, mobility impaired and disabled users. 
Stations with only an underpass and high fences (which is what is now proposed here at Marion) have no emergency escape if a child accidentally ends up on the track. In the 1990s a young man was accidentally killed by a train while crossing the tracks to avoid using the underpass. Ascot Park is the only station we know of on the line that had an underpass installed in the 1970s, but no additional maze crossing added later in the 1990s and that is because the geography does not allow it.

After being ‘upgraded’ to a single grade-separated crossing, all these stations later added at level maze crossings in response to community concerns about the need for personal safety and protection from other pedestrians. A recent project to upgrade Oaklands station, near Westfield Marion, involved removing an underpass tunnel and installing electronic gated level crossings that prevent pedestrians wandering onto the track.

In all likelihood, if an underpass is built at the northern end of Marion Station, a maze crossing will eventually be required once an assault in the underpass takes place or if a child accidentally ends up on the track.
 A maze crossing will then be created at the southern end of the platform nearer the school, making the underpass redundant, expensive and probably more dangerous than available alternatives. It will also unnecessarily remove stands of mature trees planted by long-term residents over decades to beautify the area.

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News coverage in Guardian Messenger July 02

This week's Messenger press carries a from story Kara Adams called 'New Marion Railway station pedestrian underpass threatens significant trees'.

It features comment from long time residents Geoff Wells, Barbara and Milton Howard, newer arrivals Jasmin McGee (with little Eamon), Samantha Kerr. A paper version should hit your doorstep on Wednesday night, but here is the link to story  

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Tuesday, 2 July 2013

What will this mean for the elderly and disabled?

Resident Robert Riggs has written to the rail revitalisation team and government ministers to give his views on what the underpass will mean for disabled and elderly people.  We post excerpts of his views with his permission.


It has come to my attention via a rail revitalization newsletter dated June 2013 that the Governments preferred option at the Marion railway station for access is via a new underpass.
This is the worst possible option for any one with a disability.  In my wife's case she has arthritis in both knees and while she is still mobile, any slope is a challenge and is a challenge she would rather avoid.  
With over 140 metres of ramp to traverse - and then the ramps exit/ entry at the very end of the northern railway platform - this will create an installation that is a disaster for not only herself, but anyone with a disability and particularly anyone in a wheel chair.
I, along with many people in my area am now classified as elderly and accessible public transport is critical for access to events, shopping, and recreation.  I feel our needs are being ignored.
I would like to know why the commonly accepted ‘best practice’ installation of pedestrian boom gates is not occurring at least at one end of the station platform. The boom gate option is inherently safer, particularly at night and even during the day from third party issues of robbery, sexual attacks, etc, far cheaper and does not provide any barrier for the disabled.  The cost difference between an underpass and boom gates must also be very significant. 
The recently refurbished Oaklands Station has two sets of mini boom gates at a station that handles a higher number of train passengers of all ages and has been built to be disability friendly.
I ask Government through you why they appear to be hell bent on agreeing to an installation that has proved over the years to be unsightly, unsafe and lacking in easy accessibility; to the point that many such installations through public concerns have been removed.  

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Monday, 1 July 2013

Questions about tree pruning

At a meeting on between OERA and DTP&I on Tuesday, June 4, several questions regarding tree pruning were put to rail and, as yet, are awaiting a response.

Tree pruning is proposed as a possible means of reducing the number of trees scheduled for removal along the Minchinbury Terrace side of the rail line.

However, it is not clear what rail means by pruning.  Representatives at the June 4 meeting said at that time that:

  • Less than 30% of canopy removed is a minor prune.
  • More than 30% of canopy removed is a major prune.
  • Trimming involves trimming back some of a branch rather than removing the whole branch at the stem.
Other residents making similar inquiries have subsequently  been told that a minor prune involves removing less than 10% of the canopy and a major prune involves removing less than 30%.

Obviously the variations here will substantially alter the overall impact of what will be left of individual trees, particularly the large ones along the rail line.

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Link to vegetation removal maps DPT&I

Maps of planned vegetation removal 

These vegetation maps were posted to the DPT&I website in the week after the community open day of Sunday, June 23.

The key shows trees planned for trimming, minor pruning, major pruning and removal along the railway from Emerson, south to Warradale.

Maps 20-25 of 36 relate to Oaklands Park Estate, particularly Minchinbury Terrace.

Note that the grey box is all that is indicated for the proposed underpass - the map fails to mention that all vegetation in that box would be removed to make way for the underpass.

Residents are also seeking an explanation as to why tall trees on the opposite side of the track near the school appear to remain untouched, even though they are as tall or taller and just as close to the track as trees planted into the verge by residents along Minchinbury Terrace.

View the maps at DPT&I website

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Urgent Public Meeting Saturday July 6

Message from Carolyn Habib Ward Councillor for Marion and State Liberal candidate for Elder

I have been urged by your neighbours in Marion and Oaklands Estate to call a public meeting to discuss concerns regarding the rail revitalisation project that is currently underway in our community.

Your neighbours have contacted me with concerns regarding the number of trees set for removal along the railway and that the current proposal for an underpass may not be the best and safest option for the people of the area.

I have asked Vickie Chapman, the Deputy State Liberal Leaders and Shadow Transport Minister, to attend the meeting to hear your views directly and give us advice on how we can advocate to ensure the rail electrification improves safety and has minimal impact on the community.


Regarding tree removal and railway safety
Saturday 6 July 2-3pm
corner of Bassi Street and Minchinbury Terrace, Marion

(should there be rain, shelter will be provided)

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Using an underpass in a wheelchair

Romana Challans, a resident of Brighton, is a frequent user of the Noarlunga line, including Marion station. Romana has a spinal injury, which means she travels the rail network in either an electric or manual wheelchair. 

She is a frequent user of Marion station, which has a level crossing at the northern end of the platform which allows her to park and ride.

In a recent interview on ABC 891, Romana compares the experience of crossing the rail using an underpass (such as Brighton or Hove), an overpass (such as the one at Marion), or a new  gated level crossing, such as the one at Oaklands station.

Her verdict? A decision to remove the existing at level crossing from the northern end of the station and replace it with an underpass leaves her taking the bus (if she can).

Also, Paul Gardner-Stephens, resident of Minchinbury Terrace, Marion, talks about his experiences living close to the underpass at Ascot Park and explains why the vegetation along the rail corridor is a community asset.

June 28 mp3 of the interviews (16 min:19 seconds)

Make your voices heard

Residents on both sides of the rail line are concerned about the information being provided regarding the new underpass at the Marion Railway Station.

Firstly, the information being provided by The Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure has not been consistent and it is necessary that this issue is clarified.

Secondly, and importantly, the issue of whether an underpass is the best outcome for our community has neither been discussed nor proved.  The underpass concept has been provided as the sole solution for a pedestrian crossing but without any opportunity for real input from the community. There was no discussion of the options nor the benefits and losses associated with each possible choice.

The trees to be removed are not restricted to the few isolated trees the OERA was informed of earlier, but now changes to losing six significant eucalyptus trees, as well as other trees, in a single mass removal.

From vegetation maps supplied by DTIP

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Could we design a better pedestrian crossing?

If we look up and down the line from Adelaide to Noarlunga, stations such as Marion, Woodlands, Hove and Oaklands Park, that were 'upgraded' to a single grade-separated crossing, had level maze crossings later added in response to community concerns. 
If an underpass is built at the northern end of Marion station, in all likelihood a level pedestrian crossing will eventually be added at the southern end to improve access to and from the school and reduce the risks to personal safety presented by the underpass!
Could we save a lot of time and money by simply designing a better at level crossing?

What do you think?

Underpass plan would remove the existing maze crossing

Despite its age, Marion is among the most pleasant and safe of our local stations, with a grade separated overpass nearest the school and a maze crossing at ground level at the northern end of the platform.  
The maze crossing is preferred to the overpass by many residents – particularly those with mobility issues who struggle with lengthy slopes and stairs associated with overpasses (or underpasses). The current plan would remove the ground level crossing at the northern end of the platform, leaving an underpass as the single means of crossing the rail line for all pedestrians – including school children.
By contrast, nearby Ascot Park has a single underpass. It lacks a level crossing because the geography does not allow it. While rail users are separated from moving trains, they are subject to personal assault and harassment in the underpass. The Ascot Park underpass is persistently dirty, a frequent target for vandals, and generally feels unsafe.  Tragically a young man was accidentally killed by a train while jumping off the platform to cross the tracks in order to avoid using the underpass.

Interestingly, the recent upgrade to modernise Oaklands station involved installing gated at-level crossings and removing the underpass.

Despite its age our current station is one of the more pleasant and safe of our local stations. Photo taken from southern end near the overpass, soon to be removed.


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Gated level crossing like at Oaklands

Received this comment from another OERA member today:

What I cannot understand is why they don't simply have a gated level crossing like at Oaklands. Would be simpler and cheaper. I'm sure Marion isn't the only station with a school nearby! What they don't seem to have addressed is the question of car parking by rail commuters and parents picking up children from school.  There are always cars parked all day in Fiscom and Bassi and several extras at school finishing time.

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Resident wants answers

Marion resident Robert Riggs has contacted local MPs, the MInister for Transport and the rail revitalisation project to ask the following questions.  We post an excerpt of his letter below with his permission.

I would like answers to the following:

Project analysis

What are the advantages of an underpass over the gated level crossings that are being installed at other locations for the disabled and the elderly?

Risk assessment

What provides the basis of the mooted underpass being supported in a risk assessment when the following I trust have been factored in;

That underpasses have a documented history of assaults, robberies and sexual assault in Adelaide

That the wider community has requested underpasses be removed for all of the above reasons plus graffiti attacks, vandalism, etc

That while there have been deaths at railway crossings, any that were at the old style non gated crossing cannot be utilised in any risk assessment.  A risk assessment must factor in the proposed equipment that is being evaluated so only deaths at a gated level crossing can be factored in.

Cost benefit analysis 

How can an underpass with its expensive construction requirements, disruption, and ongoing maintenance costs come out as the most cost effective option in comparison to a gated level crossing?

Environmental impact 

How could the environmental assessment that would be a component of the evaluation of the underpass favour the wanton destruction of a large number of protected river red gums?  The proposed new plantings – but not in the immediate vicinity - do not replace the existing habitat that has been formed over 150 plus years.  Particularly when the factor of increasing and uncontrolled public vandalism will in all probability see many of any replacement plantings destroyed. 

These four points need an answer to not only myself but the community as a whole who are only now realising what the ongoing impact will be of this underpass.  

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Miffed of Marion speaks up

We received this comment to the inbox this morning and have posted it at the resident's request.

I have lived in Oaklands Estate for the past 20 years and am a daily user of the train service (when it’s operating) to travel to work and on weekends for outings. I recall last summer waiting for my normal 0600 train, a slight breeze the beautiful trees full of bird life, the quietness of morning, thinking that you could easily be mistaken for thinking you were on a train platform in the country.
I am personally opposed to an underpass mainly because of the safety and security aspect. Whilst I catch early morning trains I also catch the last service at night after completing work. I normally use the ramp to get onto the platform but late at night only use the maze at the eastern end of the platform as I can see all around and I won’t get trapped in the ramp. I am also concerned about who will follow me off the train and again I would only use the eastern maze.
I am against the underpass because of the lack of personal safety on entering as I don’t know who is already in there. It can be used as a meeting place for undesirables. Once in the underpass I don’t know whose going to be at the exit or enter the underpass once I am in it. I am no longer in sight to people at road height. A security camera whilst admirable will dutifully (as long as it’s operating at the time and being monitored) ‘capture’ my attack but won’t bring me help any quicker.  I can only image that the elderly would feel very vulnerable plus they would need to negotiate the ramps with walkers and walking aides.
Underpasses become urinals, as the Goodwood Train Station underpass is such a fine example of, and I can quickly see the underpass walls as being a challenge to graffiti. Both of which would require on-going attention to cleaning and cost.
I was also on the understanding that the reason we didn’t get an underpass before was that the water-table would cause it to fill up and make it damp. Has that changed?
Why can’t we have a maze with electronic gates like at other railway stations? That way rail users are out in the open and have the ability to assess their surroundings.
Why remove our beautiful trees that are homes to our bird life – it rather flies in the face of the current works at the wetlands which is trying to retain our birdlife and eco-system.

Miffed of Marion

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Underpasses: what do they really cost us?

In my recent discussions with friends, neighbours and family about the proposed underpass for Marion Station I've heard that the current overpass must be torn down in order to electrify and revitalise the rail line. 

I am told that an underpass is the preferred option because it is cheaper. I don't know how much it would cost to modify our existing 1960s-era overpass to make it safe for electrification, although the new overpass being built at Wayville will apparently cost over $16 million. 

I thought it was worth a visit to another underpass to judge for myself what kind of value they represent for my taxpayer dollars.

Here are some pictures of nearby Warradale Station, travelling south from Marion on the Noarlunga line. 

This underpass differs slightly in design to the one proposed for Marion, but it also shares some aspects seemingly common to underpasses right along the network.  It is essentially a tunnel with a series of blind corners, limiting visibility within the tunnel and also outside of it

The lack of public vigilance makes the tunnels a magnet for anti-social and destructive behaviour such as graffiti, toileting and vandalism. You can attempt to modify property damage by adding mirrors, or installing cameras within the tunnels, but these too are subject to frequent damage due to lack of visibility and isolation. 

So if repairing property damage to underpasses requires a constant flow of funds in order to attract sufficient fare paying passengers to keep existing stations open, is it really a good idea to build more of them? Do underpasses present value for money if they are cheap to build but expensive to maintain - or are we just deferring the costs of repairing damaged property until later?

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An OERA member responds

Posting this comment on behalf of an OERA member:

We definitely DON"T want an underpass.  They are most unsafe especially at night and we often catch the train into the city. I also would not like to be on my own entering the underpass. They become dismal, dirty and frequently smell of stale urine, and tend eventually to be treated as large rubbish bins.

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Saturday, 29 June 2013

Will an underpass at Marion be safe?

I guess the answer to that question depends on who you are and what it is you may need to be protected from.  

At a recent open day held at Westminster School I listened as an engineer enthusiastically pointed to a neat looking picture and explained the benefits of his underpass design.

He talked at length about the need for 'grade separation' to ensure safety. Not being an engineer, I've since googled this term.  Apparently he meant  keeping people and trains moving on separate levels so that when they cross they can't physically collide.  That does sound very safe, if you consider that a train is the only threat we pedestrians face.

And there's the rub. It was hard to tell from the pictures, but an underpass is a tunnel. It is lengthy, angled and contains several blind corners for pedestrians. Forcing commuters in to and out of a tunnel offers them rail safety, but it also exposes them to all kinds of risks to their personal safety - particularly where an assailant can not be observed.

These personal risks are far more random and less able to be controlled by the individual. For example, I cross at the northern end of the platform using a maze crossing.  The design forces me to look up the track to avoid crossing in front of a train. I can control the risk to my safety simply by watching where I'm going. 

It's a different proposition underground though. I cannot see around corners. I may not be able to hear a potential assailant. I have very little control over these threats to my personal safety - particularly where they cannot also be seen by others. 

Unlike rail safety, personal safety risks are not equally shared. Assailants are overwhelmingly opportunistic. They are far more likely to target women, young girls and boys, the elderly, the disabled and people who are mobility impaired because they know we are more vulnerable. 

The current overpass may be old but it separates pedestrians from trains while maintaining their public visibility. The new tunnel may be' revitalised' but is it really safer?

The overpass may be old, but it works and it is visible

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