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THE Andrews Government could face a budget blowout over the cost of removing rail level crossings at Edithvale and Bonbeach in Melbourne’s south east.
The government yesterday announced it would lower the rail line rather than build “sky rail’’ stops at the stations in the suburbs in key marginal seats.
But Transport Minister Jacinta Allan was yesterday unable to give a clear answer about how much it would cost the May Budget and whether the decision not to elevate the crossings would sting taxpayers.
“Cost is only one factor in deciding how to remove a level crossing — it’s also about what’s feasible and what the community want,’’ she said.
She said the final costs would be ``determined through the tender process.’’
“It also means we can get rid of them quicker, reducing congestion and making these communities safer, sooner,’’ she said.
The Herald Sun understands the budget for eight level-crossing removals along the Frankston line could blow out by between $1 and $2 billion if suburban sky rail options are dumped.
Five sites have the option of expensive rail trenches while three, in Carrum and Frankston, are earmarked for rail bridges.
A “hybrid’’ approach will be carried out at a rail crossing to be removed at Seaford with the road lowered about 1.5m and the rail line raised the same amount due to groundwater issues.
Opposition leader Matthew Guy accused Premier Daniel Andrews of “playing politics with infrastructure’’.
“Marginal seats get a trench — which he then opposed last year — now he’s in favour of,’’ he said.
“Safe seats that he takes for granted and couldn’t care less about, they get sky rail.’’
No Sky Rail Frankston Line president Willem Popp said the under road option was a win for Bayside residents.
“We are over the moon,’’ he said.
A decision on the type of level crossing to be built at Carrum, likely to involve a rail bridge, is expected to be announced in coming weeks.
This article first appeared on www.heraldsun.com.au
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