The Melbourne School of Design co-branded with the University of Melbourne Logo

Level-crossing removals: learning from Melbourne’s experience


The Victorian state government has committed to removing 50 level crossings in two terms of office: a faster rate of removal than in any other period in the history of railways in Melbourne.

This research project aims to deepen understanding of the issues involved in level crossing removals so that when proposals for specific locations are considered, professional, government and industry stakeholders as well as the community can participate in a more informed way.


The project is part of on-going investigations of public transport futures for Melbourne. Our work helps to build understandings of the technical and operational requirements for effective public transport networks into contemporary architectural and urban design processes. Since, 2005, this work has been supported by Australian Research Council grants and by industry partners in state and local government.

Through the Transit for All  project, funded by the University of Melbourne’s Carlton Connect Initiative and our industry partners, student designs for new stations across the Melbourne suburban rail network were used to stimulate critical debate among the public and private sector networks of professionals responsible for much of Melbourne’s recent work on new stations and level-crossing removals.

We began that project with an agnostic position on the relative merits of rail-under or rail-over options for level-crossing removals. However, after reviewing the work produced over three iterations of our design-research process, it became clear that elevated rail had some distinct advantages over the typical ‘trenched-rail’ designs being constructed around Melbourne.

Learning from Melbourne’s experience

Our new report describes the potential benefits of elevated rail options for level-crossing removals that go beyond the government’s primary aims of improving safety and reducing traffic congestion.

These benefits include:

  • Greater potential for multi-scale economic and social development related to increased activity around stations.
  • Restoration of rail’s prominent position in the urban fabric.
  • Creation of linear parks and connected quiet streets for safer walking and cycling.
  • Opportunities for the fundamental re-organisation of Melbourne’s bus system and its connection to the rail network.
  • Improved passenger experience, views and wayfinding.

Realising these benefits depends on the design quality of each level-crossing removal project. We demonstrate this by assessing eleven different level-crossing removals built in Melbourne over the last hundred years.

Through this analysis, we have come up with a set of criteria by which planners, politicians and members of the community can assess any new proposal for level-crossing removals.

Download the report

The Benefits of Level Crossing Reomovals: Lessons from Melbourne's historical experience (Low-resolition: 10.1MB) (High-ressolution 83.1MB)

Level Crossing Removals in the News:

The Age, 8 February 2016 Melbourne sky rail many questions remain about Andrews government plan

The Age, 11 January 2016 Elevated rail could run through Melbourne's south- east in level crossing project

The Age, 11 February 2016 Less and eyesore than an eye opener, Sky Rail would open more Melbourne to the world

The Age, 16 February 2016 Sky rail: Premier Andrews stands by consultation process in face of anger

The Conversation, 23 February 2016, The ‘sky rail’ saga: can big new transport projects ever run smoothly?

Architecture AU, 23 February 2016, Rail lines over roads can help with more than just traffic jams

The Age, 31 January 2016, End of the line for older Melbourne stations being torn down and rebuilt


Visit the following web page to find other projects like this:

Getting the best from
level-crossing removals
in Melbourne

Project Title

Level-crossing removals: learning from Melbourne’s experience

Major Sponsor

Carlton Connect Initiatives Fund
Level Crossing Removal Authority

Research Partners

Melbourne School of Design
Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute
RMIT Centre for Urban Research
RMIT School of Global, Urban and Social Studies


We gratefully acknowledge the following for their in-kind support:
Public Transport Victoria
Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning
City of Kingston
City of Moreland
City of Melbourne
City of Darebin
Shelley Penn
Grimshaw Architects
MGS Architects
Hassell Studio
Caldis Cook Group
Urban Circus
Metropolitan Transport Forum

Project Team and Contacts

Dr John Stone (Uni of Melb)
Ian Woodcock (RMIT University)