Labor loses votes by reaching for the sky

Federal ALP pays for state Labor Government’s disregard of promises on level crossings.
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Frankston residents are furious at the state Labor Government’s disregard of promises made on level crossings, which could strengthen the Coalition’s hold on the Dunkley electorate. Amanda Kirkovski reports.
Frankston residents are furious at the state Labor Government’s disregard of promises made on level crossings, which could strengthen the Coalition’s hold on the Dunkley electorate.
Senior Labor strategists believed that level crossing removals were popular with the community and assumed they would help take seats from the Liberals in the election.
Labor announced plans to remove level crossings around Melbourne’s metropolitan area during the last state election. It has since made changes to lines that were not announced at that time.
Labor also promised there would be no sky rail along the Cranbourne-Pakenham line, but recently it has undergone level crossing removal and a nine-metre-high railway has been built.
The Frankston community has rallied together to create the No Sky Rail: Frankston Line, a non-political group opposing the sky rail.
The group, which formed a few months ago at a local life-saving club, had 200 people at its first meeting.
Spokesman for No Sky Rail: Frankston Line, Willem Popp, said the community was “misled’’ by the proposals for  the railway crossing.
Labor gave the impression the crossings were being placed underground, instead of in the sky, say group members.
Poppp says an underpass is a cheaper, safer and more aesthetic option compared to a sky rail, which will be an “eyesore” that will overshadow back yards.
“Some crossings may not need to be removed and most can be moved underground,” he says.
Labor has since stated that it can’t build underground due to the high water table and sandy soil around the Frankston area.
The project is not expected to start until 2018. However once construction begins on the Frankston line, more regular transport services will be needed as overcrowding continues to be an issue.
Daniel Bowen, a spokesman for the Public Transport Users Association, says replacement buses will need to be in place during construction, making journeys longer. “Commuters will have to plan to leave earlier.”
More than 1.8 million journeys are made on Melbourne’s trains, buses and trams each day, with many commuters from Frankston and surrounding suburbs, according to Public Transport Victoria.
“Even though the Mornington Peninsula isn’t densely populated in comparison to other parts of Melbourne, it is still home to thousands of people who need an efficient transport system to get around,” says Bowen.
Local student Ella Prendergast says more regular transport services are needed. “The irregularity of transport can cause me to be late for school.”
Labor claims the sky rail will help ease traffic congestion, create jobs and provide scenic views for passengers on-board, while also freeing up road space for parking. The Liberals are opposed to skyrail, while Greens candidate Jeanette Swain favours improving bus services. She would also like to reopen the Mornington railway line.