Bicycle Network: Metro Routes
East: Eastern Rail Corridor Path - Ringwood to Box Hill
Linking two Central Activity Districts this path would be immensely popular with both commuting and recreational riders
Council removes barrier to path progress
7 February 2013. The City of Whitehorse is now likely to gallop ahead with the long-stalled Ringwood to Box Hill rail trail after realising that its previous spoiling tactics were depriving the community of a much needed asset.
At the last Whitehorse Council meeting, held on the 29th of January, councillors considered the path’s maintenance and liability responsibilities. (The council had been inisting that it would not agree to the State Government paying for and building the trail unless the government also paid for maintenance)
After vigorous debate and a number of motions put forward in an attempt to break the impasse, the council finally resolved to support the State Government’s construction of the path along the rail corridor and adjacent alignment.
The report and debate can be seen here (pages 38-45)
Specifically, “Advising that Council will maintain the Box Hill to Ringwood bicycle path on Council roads within the municipality at its cost, subject to its approval to the detailed design of the path on Council roads and consideration of the actual maintenance requirements and costs based on the scope, extent, standards and treatment proposed for the bicycle path.”
The council further noted that they would request that the State Government duly maintain the sections of path associated with the already completed grade separations and imminent grade separations along the corridor. This would reflect arrangements in place for other paths across the metropolitan rail network.
With this minor hurdle now removed the State Government can now confidently get rolling with the project with over 80% of the path within the City of Whitehorse.
It would be difficult for Maroondah Council to now refuse an identical scenario for the eastern remainder of the path approaching the Ringwood precinct and for the also dormant O’Shannasey Trail, which is suffering from the same cost-shifting game of bluff.
Councils hold riders to ransom
29 November 2012. Two prominent Melbourne municipalities have sabotaged the building of long planned multi-million dollar bike trails in a doomed attempt to force the State Government to cough up for all future maintenance costs, a responsibility of local government, not the State.
Work on the Box Hill to Ringwood Rail Trail, and the O'Shannasey Viaduct Trail has yet to begin despite Whitehorse and Maroondah Councils being gifted 100 percent of the $10M funding for these projects.
These two projects were election commitments of the incoming Baillieu Government, and their funding is intact despite the devastating cuts to bike programs elsewhere in the budget.
Bicycle Network has learned that both councils have refused to permit the trails to be built unless their unprecedented demands are met.
Documents indicate that the councils have asked for special treatment and want the State to pay for ongoing maintenance of the paths, and to absolve them of any future legal liability.
The councils would be well aware that municipalities throughout Victoria typically pay these costs for community facilities that are paid for by the State. And they should be aware that no State Government is ever likely to vary this policy.
These councils are already responsible for upkeep and public liability on numerous other facilities, including bike trails within their areas.
Other Melbourne councils would jump at the opportunity of 100 per cent State Government funding for bike facilities.
And they may get the opportunity. It would be scandalous if the available funds had to be returned to Treasury unspent so it is likely that the resources will be made available to other areas of Victoria if the Whitehorse and Maroondah don't come to their senses soon.
There is a chance that following the recent council elections one or both of the Councils could decide to turn over a new leaf and commit to building the bike facilities currently being denied the community.
Baillieu's Box Hill bungle
10 May 2012 The plans by the Baillieu Government to build the Ringwood to Box Hill bike route along the railway easement have been thrown into disarray after the State Budget blocked funding for the grade-separated crossings at both Rooks and Mitcham Roads.
The trail was proposed as direct, high quality route to link inner Melbourne to the eastern suburbs.
It was to utilise the railway crossing grade-separation projects, planned to improve the rail and road networks, to get bikes across the busy roads.
By incorporating the bike route into the overpasses the link could have been constructed at a marginal increase in cost to the major rail crossings.
Now, either the trail will be built to a compromised design, or the crossings will have to be retro-fitted later at greatly increased cost.
The key $5M eastern route was a core promise as the Liberal-National Coalition ran for election in 2010.
The designs developed in 2011 included the appropriate crossings. The incorporation of bike infrastructure is such major projects is standard procedure.
According to policy requirements VicRoads submitted its plans through the Budget process.
But somewhere in the finalisation of the State Budget the planning was sabotaged. Someone, somewhere in the bowels of the Baillieu budgeting bureaucracy, secretly snipped the bike track out of the plan.
Not only is Baillieu's election promise in tatters, but the integrity of the "mainstreaming" policy of economically building bike infrastructure into all major projects is now under threat.
However, all is not lost. If it acts quickly the State Government has a small window of opportunity to correct this mistake and get the trail back on track.
You can write now to express your disappointment. Show you support for these essential components of the trail by asking for them to be included in the grade separation project as originally proposed.
Improved cycling infrastructure has a direct and immediate impact on the number of people who commute to and from work and leads to reduced congestion on the road and public transport networks.
Grade separation designs must include bike facilities
20 September 2011 VicRoads are currently scoping the design requirements for grade separating the Rooks and Mitcham Road rail intersections to meet the election commitments made in last year's state election by the Baillieu Government.
Bicycle Network Victoria has met with the Project team and stated the case for a high quality, separated bike facility to be funded and built as part of this project. With this now being everyday business as part of all major road and rail projects, as evidenced by projects such as Peninsula Link, Epping to South Morang Rail, and other studies such as Rowville Rail extension, Dandenong Grade Separation study, Westall Road extension and many others we believe there is an undeniable case for bikes to be in the mix as part of the design and funding of this project. Locals will be aware of the appalling outcome for bikes when the Nunawading Station was moved and grade separated. Riders are now confronted with signals hundreds of metres either north or south or hundreds of steps to lug their bike up and down. At a recent site meeting Metro staff admitted the steps had failed their primary objective to serve as a viable east-west connection for pedestrians and other users.
Bicycle Network Victoria has submitted a breakdown of the challenges to achieve the Box Hill to Ringwood link as illustrated below.
You can help to remind the Minister that bikes need to be included in the design and funding of these projects along this corridor to ensure the connection can become a reality. Remember, being positive will help the cause.
Coalition fires first election volley for bikes
3 November 2010. The Liberal National Coalition has pledged $5 million towards the 10 kilometre bike path to run from Box Hill to Ringwood.
The rail trail for most of its length runs alongside the Lilydale and Belgrave railway lines, and will provide a safe and convenient pathway for local trips, for longer distance commuting and for recreational riding.
With two Central Activity Districts at either end, this project makes sound economic sense and has been high on Bicycle Network Victoria's priority list.
The Coalition's support for the Rail Trail was announced by the Shadow Minister for Sport and Recreation, Hugh Delahunty.
Local Liberal candidate for Mitcham, Dee Ryall, Member for Box Hill, Robert Clark, Member for Bayswater, Heidi Victoria and Member for Warrandyte, Ryan Smith are also supporters of the project.
Mr Delahunty said bike trail networks have been an outstanding success in many areas of Victoria and were an initiative of the former Coalition Government.
Ms Ryall said she been a keen supporter of this rail trail and was delighted that a Liberal-Nationals government will make it happen
"It will be great not only for commuting, physical activity and recreation, but also for hundreds of kids who will be able to ride their bikes to school more easily and safely," she said.
Member for Box Hill, Robert Clark, said that the rail trail would make good use of empty railway reserves, such as the land east of Bank Street, Box Hill, which should have been made a pathway as part of the Middleborough Road grade separation.
"Rail reserves can make great bike paths, because they don't have steep slopes and they run into or near centres where people want to go. Being able to cycle safely from Box Hill to Ringwood or anywhere in between will increase participation and be a marvellous boost for local cycling."
The Rail Trail, running from Box Hill station to Ringwood station, will form the east-west arterial route for a network of bike paths within the Cities of Whitehorse and Maroondah, including numerous north-south routes, with the potential to extend westwards towards Melbourne and eastwards to Croydon North and Belgrave.
The Rail Trail will run within 1km of 20 schools and colleges, making it easier and safer for children to ride their bikes to school. Many schools and colleges, such as St Thomas' Primary, Box Hill High School and Blackburn Lake Primary School either directly border the Rail Trail or are within a few hundred metres.
An extensive feasibility study for the Box Hill to Ringwood Rail Trail, including a full route identification and costings, has been undertaken and published by Whitehorse Cyclists Inc, but regrettably to date the trail has not been supported by the Brumby government", Mr Clark said.
(Bicycle Network Victoria is encouraging all candidates to lodge their positions at votebike.com.au. Contact your local candidates and tell them to get on board.)
Box Hill to Ringwood Trail proposal
2 August 2010. Local riders have launched an ambitious bid to get the Box Hill to Ringwood Rail Trailâ€”a vital link for riders in Melbourne's eastâ€”rolling at last.
Mike Symon MP, federal member for Deakin, launched the Whitehorse Cyclists Box Hill to Ringwood Rail Trail (BHRRT) proposal this week.
The BHRRT concept is supported by the City of Whitehorse and City of Maroondah.
Whitehorse Cyclists has now published a detailed, costed proposal for this project. Whitehorse Cyclists see this as a vital piece of cycling infrastructure and hope to engage the support of local representatives at all three levels of government.
Whitehorse Cyclists says there are many benefits in the project for local and more distant commuters, and for access to the 20 schools along the route, as well as the Activity Centres of Ringwood an Box Hill.
The Springvale Road grade separation project was a disappointment with poor provision for cyclists, as was the Victorian government’s rejection of City of Whitehorse’s request in 2009 for a grant of $40,000 to carry out a survey of the ERT within Whitehorse.
Whitehorse Cyclists resolved to conduct a survey itself on a voluntary basis to contribute to the planning effort and to show that the 9.9km rail trail would be feasible.
The City of Whitehorse and VicRoads can now take up the broad plans contained in the report, engage with VicTrack and proceed with the necessary detailed design and planning activities to bring this project to fruition progressively within the next few years.
Mike Symon MP has clearly indicated support of the federal Government while recognizing the need for key involvement of local and state governments.
Eastern Rail Trail
Whitehorse City Council are looking to revisit the Eastern Rail Trail. Many local riders have consistently been pushing for this vital link and so the council is looking to review the now 10 year old strategy. In coming months council will be asking for public input for feedback and Bicycle Network Victoria for input. When we hear more we shall be asking you to help the council help cycling in this area.
In 1996 a feasibility study was carried out on the rail line route to see if a 3m wide trail utlilising railway and other easements would cater for both commuter and recreational cyclists. The study found:
- The trail is a feasible option and in fact could be developed immediately as a 23 km on-road route generally following the railway line
- The 18 km ultimate trail could be constructed generally along the edge of the Public Transport Corporation land and road and other reservations
- Research into the potential users of the trail has indicated that the Eastern Rail Trail could provide a major facility for nearly 50,000 train commuters each day as well as a good proportion of the over 800,000 trips within the 3 km corridor of the Eastern Rail Trail.