July 5, 2014  |  Adjournment matter

Essendon Level Crossing

Mr CARROLL (Niddrie) — I rise to address a matter to the attention of the Minister for Roads. The action I seek is that the minister request that VicRoads investigate the traffic light sequencing at the level crossing on Buckley Street, Essendon. This level crossing is a thorn in the side of my local community. Every morning and every night traffic banks up for hundreds of metres on either side of the intersection while trains from two directions — on the Craigieburn line as well as V/Line trains — keep the boom gates lowered. After the boom gates rise, the traffic light sequence favours the side streets to let buses out before vehicles on Buckley Street are given a go.

More and more local commuters are contacting me with their everyday stories of traffic delays. Locals report to me that often after the boom gates have lifted, the traffic light sequence favours the side streets at the intersection rather than immediately allowing traffic to disperse from Buckley Street. Often by the time the lights at Buckley Street become green, another train has come and the boom gates have descended again. Residents of Aberfeldie, Essendon and Niddrie, right up to Keilor East and Avondale Heights, who daily traverse Buckley Street experience exceptional delays at this level crossing due to the traffic light sequencing not working in an optimal manner.

On 23 May I received an email from Andre Fontanini of Keilor East in which he outlines that his daily commute often involves delays due to vehicles which are heading east over the level crossing being subordinated to cars and buses which head in all other directions, particularly from such side streets as Rose, Russell and Sherbourne streets. In his email Mr Fontanini outlines that each morning a V/Line city‑bound train and a Craigieburn‑bound train converge at around the same time — at 7.50 a.m. — and that while the boom gates go up and down, eastbound vehicles often remain at a standstill at a red light while vehicles heading in other directions are free to move. Mr Fontanini says he often waits 10 minutes. Another constituent, Robert Cook of Aberfeldie, recently took up the issue in a letter to the editor of a local newspaper. He seeks diversion of the V/Line traffic and measures to address the traffic light sequencing, which appears to favour the single‑lane side streets over the double‑lane Buckley Street.

Over the past couple of years works have been undertaken at this level crossing, including the installation of additional traffic lights and a pedestrian crossing which was built to improve the safety of students at nearby schools, such as St Columba’s College, Lowther Hall and Essendon Keilor College. However, the traffic light sequencing does not appear to be working to an optimal standard, which impacts locals who travel along Buckley Street. I am extremely pleased that Labor has promised to remove this level crossing once and for all should it have the honour of forming government after 29 November. The minister may wish to match this commitment tonight. However, in the meantime the congestion caused by this level crossing could be eased by a simple change to the timing of the traffic light sequencing. On behalf of local communities I seek the minister’s urgent attention to have VicRoads investigate the traffic light sequencing at this most busy and important level crossing, which will ensure that traffic flows as freely as possible up and down Buckley Street over the level crossing.