Sorry Neighbours, But The Carnegie Skyrail Is Exactly What We Need

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An artist's impression of the new Carnegie Skyrail. Image: Level Crossings

Ugh. The more I am listening to Matt and Meshel, the worse their jokes are getting.

I flick the radio station, and begin to sing along to Despacito for the third time. As the bridge of the song builds to a peak, I watched the fourth train depart Carnegie station.

I have been at a stand still for 13 minutes, and at the rate we’re going another seven or eight trains will need to pass before I reach Dandenong road. 

I look to my left, and watch another disgruntled driver stuck next to me in traffic. A displeased reflection stares back at me in my rear view mirror.

I am not alone.

I am one of countless drivers who will get stuck on Koornang Road for up to 82 minutes in morning peak hour traffic, as trains arrive and depart from Carnegie Station.

Construction is underway at Carnegie Station. Image: Marnie Cohen

It was by the 21st minute, and fifth train that I knew any plan to remove this level crossing would make life that much easier… even a sky rail.

Construction at Carnegie Station is officially underway, with one of Melbourne’s most congested and dangerous level crossings set to be removed and replaced by the sky rail.

While the re-development is set to make life a lot easier for drivers, the news wasn’t so well received by locals and I struggle to understand why.

The Carnegie makeover won’t be the first of its kind in the local area. In 2016, Ormond, McKinnon and Bentleigh stations all underwent major renovations and train tracks were moved underground.

North, Centre and McKinnon Roads were a mess for months – was it an inconvenience? Yes. Was it as much of an inconvenience as the train stations had been for numerous decades prior? No, and now travelling along these roads are a dream.

The Carnegie station redevelopments can be closely compared to that of Bentleigh. A main train station amongst a popular shopping junction, the construction barely made a dint on businesses operating along the main strip. With multiple parking lots accessible from behind either side of the street and bus access to Centre Road, it was business as usual in Bentleigh.

One of Melbourne’s most congested level crossings is set to be replaced by the skyrail. Image: Marnie Cohen

So one could expect anti sky rail protesters to play on the ‘struggles’ potentially faced by local businesses, but it seems that argument may fall flat.

There are four car parks surrounding Koornang Road which are all accessible without travelling along the main strip. Multiple bus routes pass by the street and they will be joined by replacement buses.

Furthermore, according to the 2011 census, driving is the preferred transport for just over half of Carnegie residents (50.1 per cent), compared to 18.2 per cent travelling by train. So waiting for half an hour and six trains to run through the station at a morning is inconveniencing more locals than the closure of the train station or the introduction of the sky rail.  

The real problem faced by residents in Carnegie is what the sky rail means for property value. With the sky rail expected to be a noisy addition to neighbouring streets, house prices are at risk of falling.

Early in 2016, some real estate agents expected houses directly affected by the Carnegie sky rail to drop up to 25 per cent in value.

So based on the average house price in Carnegie (as of August 2017) houses in close proximity of the sky rail could fall to just over $1 million ($1.4 the average), while a unit will only set you back around $433 thousand, as opposed to $577 thousand.

What appears to be a big difference might actually just be a big overreaction.

Skyrail construction takes place in surrounding streets. Image: Marnie Cohen

Cue Daniel Andrews and the ALP.

He’s gone on a shopping spree and purchased countless properties in Carrum – another suburb suffering from the sky rail. One could assume he will do the same in 3163.

And while some neighbours will reluctantly be selling their houses to Daniel Andrews and Co, the government will pay stamp duty on residents’ next property purchase, and will also cover some of the extra costs.  

I can understand why locals are angered over the new sky rail, however the Victorian government are not only offering solutions to these consequential problems but are also solving one of the biggest problems in Melbourne’s south east: Carnegie Station.

Melbourne was just voted the most liveable city for a record seventh consecutive time; now we’re upgrading our train services to match the title. 

Finally, after 33 minutes, eight trains and countless sky rail thoughts I am finally over the Carnegie railway line. 

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