Rail industry news (Australia, New Zealand), Victoria

80 level crossings removed and two new stations open

The Victorian Government has removed Melbourne’s 80th level crossing, with three more level crossings gone along the Pakenham Line and two new stations opening to passengers.

Pakenham Station has opened following its major upgrade, along with a brand-new East Pakenham Station that extends the metropolitan train line by two kilometres into Melbourne’s newest suburb.

East Pakenham delivers a direct connection into a growing community, set to accommodate around 7,200 new homes in the coming years – putting more houses close to transport connections, schools and jobs.

The new East Pakenham Station will also provide better connections for regional Victorians – with dedicated V/Line tracks to cut congestion and improve service reliability on the Gippsland Line.

Minister for Transport Infrastructure Danny Pearson celebrated the milestone.

“Melbourne’s population set to reach the size of London by 2050, so we’re building the infrastructure to support families in our growing south-east while slashing travel times and delivering better public transport,” he said.

All Pakenham Line services will run through to the new stations, with five-to-10-minute frequency during weekday peaks, and 20 minutes during off-peak periods.

Over the coming months, work will ramp up to create six MCGs of new open space below the two-and-a-half-kilometre rail bridge between McGregor and Racecourse Road – with the design including a shared use path as well as a basketball court, playground and parklands set to open later this year.

The Government’s Car Parks for Commuters program in partnership with the Commonwealth Government has delivered 300 new car parking spaces at East Pakenham Station, with another 450 new and upgraded spaces at Pakenham Station to open in spring.

Some 63,000 vehicles used Pakenham level crossings every day, experiencing frustrating delays when the boom gates were down for 30 per cent of the morning peak.

A crew of 200 people worked around the clock throughout May to get rid of three boom gates at Main Street, McGregor Road and Racecourse Road.

Only three level crossings remain on the Pakenham Line. They will be removed to make the rail line boom gate-free – with passengers on the Pakenham Line also set to benefit from the Metro Tunnel when it opens next year.

Since 2015, the Victorian Government has delivered 49 new and upgraded stations, created the equivalent of 21 MCGs of open space for communities and built 60 kilometres of walking and cycling paths across the city.

With 80 level crossings now gone for good, it means 50 hours of boom gate time saved every morning peak – and 100 crashes and near misses avoided every year.