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Melbourne’s railway stations rarely draw comparisons to classic novels but one is ... and the reviews are bad.
Middle Gorge sounds more like a location out of Lord of the Rings, a group of locals and public transport advocates have complained.
And just like the wearer of the ring in Tolkien’s fantasy epic, nobody saw it coming.
The station name was revealed earlier this month; it will be one of three new stations built as part of the $600 million Mernda rail extension in Melbourne’s outer north.
The working name, Marymede, was dumped because it is taken from a nearby school, which goes against Victorian place-naming conventions.
But some of the Mernda rail extension’s biggest advocates are incredulous about Middle Gorge, and have written to the Andrews government at great detail to let them know why.
“Many residents have found the name comical, rather than something to be proud of," the letter reads. "Many suggested the name sounded like the locality of Middle Earth from JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.”
For the government, it’s all a bit awks (or is that orcs?)
Its PR triumph of being able to say that it was six months ahead of schedule on the project has been dimmed by public bemusement about Middle Gorge.
The letter, signed by influential public transport advocates Darren Peters of the Mernda and South Morang Rail Alliance, Daniel Bowen of the PTUA and Dr Crystal Legacy, senior lecturer in urban planning at the University of Melbourne, among others, lists several reasons why Middle Gorge is a terrible name.
The first is that the station is about 2½ kilometres away from Middle Gorge, a picnic area that sits on a tight bend in Plenty River.
It makes the claim that any passenger who tried to walk to Middle Gorge from Middle Gorge station would find it difficult, because they would have to walk along a main road without a footpath.
The letter also claims that few people in the area have ever heard of Middle Gorge and that there was no public consultation.
It proposes renaming South Morang station Plenty Valley, just as the government plans to rename North Melbourne to West Melbourne, and changing Middle Gorge to South Morang.
“This was the location of the original South Morang Station from 1889 to 1959,” the letter says.
But local MP Lily D’Ambrosio suggested those who who signed the letter were being a touch, well, precious.
“I’m more interested in better transport facilities, new stations, and easing congestion for families in my community - we’re delivering the transport that they deserve,” she said.
Labor MP Danielle Green, whose Yan Yean electorate includes Mernda and Hawkstowe, the other two stations along the rail extension, welcomed the backlash as a publicity opportunity.
“Most people are just rapt the project is six months ahead of schedule, but if there is controversy about the name and it raises awareness of the beautiful natural environment at Plenty Gorge Park I’m rapt,” Ms Green said.
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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