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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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