Expressions of Interest are being welcomed for the removal of nine more Victorian level crossings under the Andrews Government’s plan to remove 50 crossings over the next eight years.
The tender for the removal of the first four level crossings was awarded earlier this month, to a joint venture of John Holland and KBR.
Transport minister Jacinta Allan on Monday night hinted that the EoI for the next nine level crossings was coming “very, very soon”.
And that was confirmed on Wednesday, with the EoI released for the nine identified crossings between Caulfield and Dandenong.
The package also includes rebuilding four stations at Carnegie, Murrumbeena, Clayton and Hughesdale, and the roll out of power and signalling upgrades along the line.
Delivering the works as a single package will allow works to be coordinated, saving money, reducing disruption and removing the crossings sooner, the government said.
The Cranbourne-Pakenham line is Melbourne’s busiest, but boom gates along the line are closed for up to 87 of the 120 minutes that make up the morning peak period on weekdays, according to government research.
While this slows down road commuters, level crossings have the added effect of making the rail network less productive, as trains often have to slow down significantly as they pass through them.
The inherent safety risks associated with level crossings also add to the desire to have them removed.
“Some of these boom gates are down for more than 80 minutes every morning,” Allan said. “They are choking our city and putting our lives at risk – they have to go.”
She said the removal of the level crossings, as well as the plan to buy 37 new high-capacity trains for the network, will boost capacity by 42% – creating space for an additional 11,000 passengers in peak hour.
An industry briefing will be held next week to provide more information for the EoI, which will close in late June.
Applications will be evaluated by the Level Crossing Removal Authority, which will then narrow them down to a shortlist of two bidders to continue through the process.
Work on the removal of the level crossings is expected to commence in 2016, and all nine level crossing removals will be completed by 2018, the government said.
“Removing every level crossing between Caulfield and Dandenong will reduce road congestion, make local communities safer, create jobs, and allow for more trains from Cranbourne, Pakenham and Gippsland,” Allan said.