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More trains are taking to the air in Melbourne's south-east after the latest stretch of the state government's controversial sky rail was opened to the public – and nearby residents are mostly happy about it.
The newly rebuilt Clayton station – which looms high above the ground like the new Noble Park facility – welcomed its first passengers on Monday, as another level crossing was removed on the busy Cranbourne-Pakenham line.
As Metro and V/Line trains whizzed past overhead, road traffic on the ground was also moving smoothly through the former Clayton Road level crossing.
Until the project, boom gates had kept cars stationary for 82 minutes of the 120-minute morning peak. A similarly congested level crossing at Centre Road has also been removed.
The level crossing is one of nine to be removed between Caulfield and Dandenong on the Cranbourne-Pakenham line. Three have already been ripped up as part of the first sky rail segment, near Noble Park, which opened in February.
Five stations will also be built as part of the project, including Clayton and Noble Park.
Nearby resident, Charles Li, whose property looks out onto the concrete of the freshly constructed track as it rises to Clayton station, described the level crossing removal as "fantastic".
"It's great because that intersection is crazy. Me and my wife would need to wait there for 15 to 20 minutes sometimes, coming back home after a long day's work," he said.
Mr Li said he would have preferred the rail to have been put underground, but he accepted the compromise to reduce the area's traffic problems.
"I wouldn't call it an eyesore but it's not ideal," he said. "There's always a trade-off – you can't get everything."
Marius Menaud, who has lived next to Clayton station for 16 years, said the reduction in congestion at the intersection had been noticeable already.
"Just to get to the other side of the road, it was a task," he said.
"I'd be standing there as a pedestrian, in a hurry to get across, and it would take me a minimum of 11 minutes. I've timed it. It's a long time."
Car parks and a permanent customer service office will be built at the station in coming months, and the surrounding open space will also be improved.
The latest section of sky rail does not overlook residents' backyards. Two roads, Haughton and Carinish Road, run parallel to the new track, providing a buffer between trains and neighbouring houses.
Most Haughton and Carinish Road residents who spoke to The Age were positive about the new station.
When asked about the noise, many said that they did not notice any difference or said it was quieter.
However one resident, who did not want to be named, said she felt the trains were too close to her house and that she was worried about what would happen below the bridges, including vandalism.
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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