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How level crossings stop traffic for 90 minutes during the morning rush

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Three level crossings have been earmarked for upgrades but there are dozens more where trains have priority over cars – and the delays will only get worse.

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After years of complaints from local residents and commuters, level crossings at Coopers Plains, Lindum and Carseldine are being upgraded in projects that will cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

“These are complicated projects because they need all three levels of government acting in concert,” Department of Transport and Main Roads director-general Neil Scales told a Budget Estimates committee hearing.

However, with Cross River Rail set to increase activity on the network, to 24 trains per hour, there are concerns the traffic delays caused by level crossings will only increase.

Data released by the department reveals the level crossing at Cavendish Road at Coorparoo is closed for one hour and 32 minutes between 5am and 10am every weekday. It blocks traffic for the longest, however others are not far behind: Warrigal Road at Runcorn is closed for one hour and 26 minutes, Sherwood Road at Sherwood is closed for one hour and 24 minutes, and Dawson Parade at Grovely is closed for one hour and 22 minutes.

Scales said the department had looked at 65 level crossings and how it might ameliorate the impact of the boom gates being down.

“We’re concentrating on those three major ones first, because they’re very complicated,” he said.

Scales said he would expect to see more work done once Cross River Rail was completed in 2024, however the department has also pointed to the need to reassess travel patterns given the decline in train patronage during the pandemic.

A series of accidents in Victoria prompted a rolling program of level crossing upgrades.

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