News / Skyrail

New skyrail in Brunswick by 2027

The project will cost well over $1 billion and remove eight level crossings

The notorious Brunswick Road level crossing will be one of the eight removed. Photo: Level Crossing Removal Project

Mark Phillips

Monday, September 19, 2022

A SKYRAIL will extend all the way from Royal Park to Moreland Road in a new state government project to remove eight level crossings on the Upfield line.

The massive project, which will take until 2027 to complete and is likely to cost well in excess of $1 billion, was announced by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Deputy Premier Jacinta Allan on Monday.

The first big spending announcement in the seat of Brunswick ahead of what is expected to be a tight contest at the state election in two months time, it will see the removal of eight level crossings on major east-west roads in Parkville and Brunswick, including Brunswick Road, Dawson Street and Albion Street. The new elevated railway line will be about 2km long.

New overhead railway stations will be built to replace the ones at Jewell, Brunswick and Anstey.

The new project will result in a continuous overhead railway line all the way from Royal Park to Coburg Station on Bell Street, a distance of about 4.2km. It will also see a new dedicated pedestrian and bike path extend the same distance, and result in the equivalent of four MCGs of new open space between Parkville and Coburg.

The skyrail between beginning just south of Moreland Road and ending on the north side of Bell Street opened in December 2020. It also included new elevated railway stations at Moreland and Coburg.

Up to 16 trains pass the crossings during the morning peak, causing the boom gates to be down for 30 minutes in total, with that expected to increase when more trains are running via the Metro Tunnel from 2025.

There have also been 36 near misses at the eight crossings since 2016.

Ms Allan said the project in Brunswick would make the roads safer and improve traffic flow.

“Every Victorian knows the dinging sound of boom gates coming down and the frustration that comes with it, that’s why we’re getting rid of them – saving lives, easing congestion and getting you home sooner,” she said.

“We’re getting rid of eight more of these death traps on the Upfield Line – making local roads safer, improving traffic flow, and clearing the way for more trains, more often.”

Also present at the announcement on Monday morning was the Labor candidate for Brunswick, Mike Williams.

“This will ease congestion, improve the Upfield line and station precincts, and create beautiful open spaces,” he said.

“It will also give us a dedicated bike path and walking path from the north into the city.

“I know how important this is to the people of Brunswick and I will work as hard as I can if elected as their MP to deliver for my community.”

The MP for Brunswick, Tim Read, said any improvements to train services on the Upfield line and bike and walking paths in Brunswick were good news. But he said the skyrail must be accompanied by more frequent trains on the Upfield line.

Dr Read also called for better consultation about the Brunswick level crossing removal project than occurred in the earlier Coburg project.

“The government’s community consultation around the completed Coburg skyrail was poor, and really a bit of a sham,” he said.

“It left a lot of people feeling frustrated. So I’m hoping this time we see genuine consultation about the design of green space and the shared bike and walking paths, so that we get something that works for locals who live here, not just those driving through.

“And this doesn’t mean that we can forget about revitalising Sydney Road in Brunswick, with accessible tram stops, separated bike lanes and wider footpaths. There’s enough bike traffic for both.”

Read more:

Revitalised Upfield path opens to the public

Moreland Mayor Mark Riley welcomed the announcement but said more state government investment was needed to improve train services, which are among the worst in Melbourne.

“These [crossing removals] will greatly boost pedestrian safety and accessibility while alleviating pressure on our roads during peak hours,” Cr Riley said. 

“This work will also significantly improve the Upfield bike path, in line with Council's commitment to promoting sustainable transport options. We know that dedicated cycling infrastructure encourages residents to see riding a bike as a genuine transport option in the long term.”

Cr Riley said trains can only run on the Upfield line every 20 minutes during peak hour, which is among the worst in the Melbourne rail network, while some of the older stations are among the lowest rated by commuters.

He said a transport masterplan that included duplicating the line north of Coburg would be a major improvement.

No costings have been released, but the removal of level crossings between Moreland and Bell Streets and replacement of two stations cost $542.2 million. Given this project will be four times the size, its likely cost will be well in excess of $1 billion.

Community consultation and further project design will occur early next year, with the level crossings to be removed by 2027.

This story has been updated with comments from Tim Read.