Local traders loving Reservoir

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High Street, Reservoir was one of Melbourne’s most notorious level crossings, with around 36,000 vehicles travelling through the notorious Reservoir level crossing each day.

At the intersection where High Street, Cheddar Road and Spring Street intersect, 6 boom gates could be down for 24 minutes during the 2-hour morning peak. In the past 10 years before the level crossing was removed, there were 3 recorded collisions, one fatality, and 26 near miss incidents.

The Reservoir level crossing was removed in December 2019 with a rail bridge over High Street and the construction of a brand-new Reservoir Station.

Since the ringing bells and flashing lights of the boom gates have gone, both the east and western sides of the suburb are better connected, with a new public plaza underneath the station and improved paths for pedestrians and cyclists between Edwardes Street and Broadway.

It also seems the new Reservoir Station is very popular, and not just for commuters.

This year the station was recognised in the Victorian Architecture Awards, became the first train station in Australia to be awarded a 5 Star Green Star As Built rating by the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA), and was shortlisted for a prestigious international architecture award, Prix Versailles.

Most recently, Reservoir Station received the Sustainability Award at the Australasian Rail Industry Awards held in early November 2021.

We spoke to a few local traders in Reservoir to hear their their thoughts on how the area has changed after the level crossing removal.

Offspring Café

2A Edwardes Street, Reservoir

Offspring Café owner Jenny Laureano remembers being delayed by boom gates at Reservoir, even at midnight.

‘I used to work at a pub in Fairfield and at 11.58pm – you were stuck here for 6 or 7 minutes, the wait at that time was the longest wait. There may have been 2 or 3 trains at that time, so I always tried to make it home before that time so I wouldn’t get stuck there, but you always waited there – it was ridiculous.’

Jenny’s café is approximately 2 doors down from the former level crossing, where she was witness to accidents and near-misses on the train tracks.

During construction, Jenny got to know many of the workers and offered tradie specials to entice hungry crews in to her café.

‘We really miss the construction crew; they were all so nice. Some of them I still keep in contact with, really really nice people,’ she said.

Jenny, who grew up in Reservoir, says she doesn’t miss the sound of the level crossing as it’s much quieter now and she can’t hear the trains up on the elevated rail line.

‘To look out the window, from where we’re working here it just looks so much nicer.’

Sargent’s Cakes

40 Edwardes Street, Reservoir

Sargent’s Cakes has been serving the Reservoir community since 1952, and Paul Sharwood has been running the bakery with his wife Kim since 1997.

‘I used to drive across the tracks every day, it was a nightmare. Even to do deliveries to Kingsbury Bowling Club or somewhere nearby, I’d dread it because it would be an hour's trip. If you got stuck going over and coming back with a couple of trains, you’d sit there for 15 to 20 minutes. It was a nightmare. But now, it’s so good just to zip across, you don’t have to wait for trains.’

‘I think the project is fantastic. It’s an amazing project. It's so much better. The old station looked terrible. You go past now and it’s just amazing, the structure. I think it looks fantastic.’

‘I spoke to a bloke who said he hasn’t been down to Reservoir for years, and I said you should drive down and have a look at the station, you’ll be blown away. You wouldn’t recognise it. That’s the sort of impression it gives me.’

Level Crossing Removal High Street, Reservoir