A tree grows in the train trench

There has been much consternation across Melbourne as the level crossing removal program has ramped up, with trees being one of the casualties and barren concrete canyons taking their place. But there is hope!

X'Trapolis 62M departs Gardiner station on the down via the new low level tracks

This row of pine trees along the edge of Morton Park, Blackburn was one of the victims – cleared for a rail under road grade separation at Blackburn Road.

Row of pine trees felled along the edge of Morton Park, Blackburn

Meanwhile a few stations along the line at Camberwell, the railway passes beneath Burke Road, a grade separation project completed almost 100 years ago. Fast forward to today, and creepers are starting to reclaim the cutting walls.

Plants grow out of a crack in the retaining wall on the up side of Camberwell station

With a much larger bush taking hold down at ground level.

Plants grow out of a crack in the retaining wall on the up side of Camberwell station

But you don’t need to wait decades for nature to take over – the railway tracks through Mitcham station were only placed below ground in 2014, and this elm tree has already started to poke out of the concrete cutting wall.

Tree growing out of the concrete cutting walls at Mitcham station

So don’t lose hope – as long as Melbourne’s rail network is in the hands of a private operator more concerned with profits than infrastructure maintenance, nature will reclaim even our newest rail infrastructure.


The Age has more on the clearing of trees at Blackburn for level crossing works.

‚ÄčThe “scorched-earth” felling of hundreds of trees by Andrews government contractors preparing the way for level crossing removal has left Blackburn residents fuming.

The Belgrave-Lilydale rail line is being lowered beneath Blackburn Road to remove the level crossing near Blackburn railway station.

But as part of the project, at least 220 trees will go, including 23 mature cypress and pine trees on the rail line in Blackburn’s Morton Park.

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8 Responses to “A tree grows in the train trench”

  1. Thede3jay says:

    I might also mention that at St Albans, the cutting is very strong rock (approx 200mpa) that could stay where it is and easily support the trench and look much better! Instead, PTV requested it to use shotcrete, which looks uglier AND isn’t as strong (only 40MPa!) the shotcrete here is purely for “aesthetics”

    I might suggest going to have a look while you can, they are applying the shotcrete soon.

  2. mpp says:

    The pine trees in Blackburn’s Morton Park were ugly and stopped anything growing beneath them. In recent years they’ve started dropping branches, to the point where it would be dangerous walking along the footpath there in inclement weather.

    Visitors to the area today will find a more beautiful area, with substantially more sunlight making the area safer and more vibrant.

    I hope that the planned tree planting will incorporate only eucalypts rather pine trees.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      By the sounds of it the trees were at the end of their useful life – planing replacement trees to take over would be the responsibility of the local council.

  3. Tim says:

    Every time there is a major storm the cypress and pine trees are the ones to fall down. I can remember there being a lot more of them in Caulfield Park when I first moved there in 2002. By the time I moved out in 2015 most of them had been replaced by natives just from them falling down in storms.

  4. Chris says:

    Whilst the removal of trees is an inevitable consequence of construction, my concern often lies in the replacement trees and plantings that ensue. In particular, native trees seem to take absolute precedence over exotic species. Given the built urban form has been highly modified by human habitation, exotic species such as elms, oaks, pines, planes and maples make for a much more aesthetically pleasing urban environment and are often overlooked. Whilst some may argue that this is simply individual preference, natives trees such as eucalytps make for terrible urban trees with year long litter, invasive root systems, uncontrolled growth completely unsuited to the built urban environment.
    Some of Melbourne’s oldest suburbs are testament to wonderful exotic tree species. Future plantings of these will ensure a more diverse tree stock, a more aesthetically pleasing urban environment which complements Melbourne and adds to it’s overall livability.

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