News / Transport

‘There will be chaos’: anger at rail closure on festival weekend

Transport department says it cannot postpone essential works for the Sydney Road Street Party

Mark Phillips

PUBLIC Transport Victoria has defended the decision to carry out works on the Upfield railway line this weekend amid predictions of “chaos” during the Sydney Road Street Party on Sunday.

The planned works will go ahead forcing all trains to be replaced by buses from Friday night until the last service on Sunday but the PTV is confident it has contingencies in place to minimise any disruptions.

The works have been planned for weeks and the Department of Transport and Planning says it cannot postpone or cancel them at this late stage.

Temporary bus stops will be located in Sydney Road, which will be closed to all traffic, including buses and trams, between Victoria Street and Brunswick Road on Sunday. This has forced further changes to the replacement bus services on Sunday.

With a number of cross-roads also to be partially closed on Sunday, the news of the railway line works has caused derision on social media with predictions of transport chaos.

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“PTV is incompetent at best of times,” said one commenter on the Brunswick Fairly Good Karma Facebook group, while another described it as a “clusterf*@k”.

“There *will* be chaos. Metro have not thought this through, and I doubt very much they’ve talked to the key stakeholders,” said another comment in the Brunswick Skyrail Community Facebook group, while someone else said it was “idiotic timing”.

But the Department of Transport and Planning is standing by the decision to carry out the works this weekend because it would be too difficult to cancel or postpone critical works just to suit the festival.

The department says it has gone to great lengths to ensure people can still get to and from the event via replacement buses and trams.

“We encourage people to get along and enjoy all the fun of the Sydney Road Street Party,” a department spokesperson said.

“Melbourne has a packed events calendar, particularly in March. Some works cannot be postponed or cancelled because of events, otherwise essential maintenance and upgrades would never happen.

“Public transport remains the best way to get to and from the Sydney Road Street Party. While essential works are being carried out on the Upfield Train Line, replacement buses will be operating, along with Route 19 Trams either side of the festival every eight minutes throughout the day.”

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Brunswick-based Merri-bek Councillor Lambros Tapinos said he was disappointed about the decision and the lack of notice provided to residents and festival goers.

“It took us by surprise,” he said.

“The Sydney Road Street Party is the major festival of the City of Merri-bek and we invest a lot of money in it and for the trains not to be operating is really disappointing because we want people from all over Melbourne to come to Sydney Road and enjoy the local shops and food and entertainment we have to offer.

 “I would hope that the PTV could reconsider this decision and postpone the construction works to the week after the Sydney Road Street Party.”

In a statement, the council said it had only recently been made aware of the changes to public transport this weekend and it would provide information about the changed routes through its social media pages.

The maintenance works will mean buses replacing trains between North Melbourne and Upfield from 9.30pm on Friday to the last service on Sunday.

On Sunday, rail replacement buses will divert around the Sydney Road closure via Brunswick Road, Grantham Street, Dawson Street, Melville Road and Victoria Street.

Passengers who would normally use Brunswick or Jewel stations can alight close to these stations but will need to walk an additional 200 metres and taxis will be on standby to assist those with mobility issues.

Additional support staff will also be in strategic positions around the closure to help passengers and ensure operations run smoothly.

The department is also advising motorists to use St Georges Road or Nicholson Street to avoid the closure of Sydney Road from midnight on Saturday. More information is available on the PTV website.

This story has been updated with additional comments from Cr Tapinos and Merri-bek City Council.