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Railway thread

Railway authorities

A few weeks back I felt that it was necessary in developing this Park idea that any objections that could be removed be removed as early as possible. I set out to get the rail authorities to at least make an in principle "No objections so far" statement.

Vic Track seemed a likely starting place and it was. They referred me to Metro Trains Melbourne, who after 11 days of "research" and forgetting what my MTM case number was all about, referred me back to Vic Track they thought; or maybe it was Department of Transport; no - try Vic Track first.

Vic Track on this second approach said it was Department of Transport. A DOT spokesperson, after the apparently statutary 10 days of research was able to say that they were heading off for 2 months away from the office and someone else would get in touch with me. That was the week ending March 9th.

My new approach: Assume rail authority acceptance and if they object aim higher.

AHB March 11th

Railway history and the preservation of artifacts.

The park contains many physical reminders of rail days gone by. Spur lines heading off to where? Sidings where trains have unloaded what? and so on.

We should be thinking now of what should remain in place, be removed or re-mounted in a central display location. Take the large white gates as an example. They have real historic value but there are so many there could be culling without much heartbreak.

And think of the gatekeepers' jobs. Waiting in those cute little huts with brick fireplace and outside toilet for the signal to close the gate. Is there an account of this occupation? It won't be too late to interview and document the stories from an old hand.

AHB March 14th

How close to the rails can we plant?

The 1998 study quotes Bayside Trains as allowing planting no closer than 3 metres from the nearest rail. The reason is to allow for sleeper replacement and weed clearing.

The same study discusses areas where the bike track fence is closer than 3 metres and describes how the wires on a preserved pine post and rail fence can be easily removed for sleeper work. From later statements it is reasonable to expect that this was accepted by Bayside.

An answer:

  • A fence such as weldmesh has easily removeable panels if needed for sleeper work.
  • The aim will be to prepare for planting, and choose such plants that weed clearing will be eliminated or greatly reduced.
  • There is another requirement that sightlines for signals are not obstructed by trees. This seems easy to satisfy.

AHB March 20th

More width without getting wider

There are hundreds of metres of the bike track where there is a solid wall or high fence immediately next to the track. Given space to move the track 600mm away from the wall adds an effective 300mm added to the width of the bike track. A rider can go right to the edge of the track where the walls would have kept them at least half a handlebar width away.

The 600mm can be planted with appropriate low plants.

AHB March 20th

Who knows the facts about occupancy, custodianship and ownership?

The 1998 study mentions the cost to Moreland City of acquiring land from Vic Track. This would be meaningful if land was intended for substantial permanent constructions, but in the case of this park it can be argued that this usage of railway land is beneficial to Vic Track and its client Metro Trains and that there is a case for them to pay for the park development.

Finding the right people with whom to discuss the railway position is a continuing saga. I am waiting today for the Department of Transport to nominate the right interface. I did speak to a person who asked for me to email what the idea was about - I included the park url - and he would find the right person.

Email sent on March 20th. Now waiting.

AHB March 20th

A nice place for a tram and train museum

A few weeks back Councillor Tapinos suggested the large plots of Vic Track land south of Moreland Road and east of the line would make a great place for a small tram and train museum.

When you think about it, it has a great deal of merit, placed as it is between both rail and tram facilities.

What kind of museum appeals most? You need to shelter the exhibits - rolling stock etc. - but it would be nice to have open air space for kids and their parents to enjoy.

A nice challenge for the more creative among us.

AHB March 25th

Are you ready for the long haul?

As I progress with identifying threats to our park project I discover nineteenth century thinking such as the need to apply for a licence and pay an inspection fee of possibly $400 or more to replant the abandoned garden beds on Jewell Station. ( A Vic Track requirement) This is unacceptable.

If a licence is sought for revegetating any area - seats, paths, BBQ facilities, memorials, artwork or any other permanent fixtures are not permitted.

Access to railway land can be obtained through other means such as leasing but this gets away from the notion of a partnership between Vic Track and the community.

This is by way of a warning that there will be many ingrained policies and practices that will have to be overcome.

If the going gets tough there is an answer. If the social media can get credit for the Arab spring, it can be used to see that public land under the custody of whatever authority gets used for the best public benefit.

AHB March 31st

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