The bridge over the Avon River used by trains on the Gippsland Line will be completed in early December, ahead of schedule.
After a works blitz to connect the new bridge to the existing rail line from Saturday, November 28 to Sunday, December 6, trains will be able to travel at up to 90km/h on the new bridge, well above the 10km/h speed limit on the current bridge.
The early completion date was significant, said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack, as working conditions had to account for COVID-19 restrictions.
“It’s fantastic that works on the new bridge are finishing early, especially given crews have worked under modified conditions for most of the year,” he said.
The Avon Bridge is one part of the wider Gippsland Line Upgrade, that will increase the frequency and reliability of services to this part of regional Victoria. Other works include track duplication, extending the Morwell crossing loop, upgrading signalling, and adding second platforms at four stations along the line.
In addition, local level crossings would be improved with added safety features, including at McAlister Street.
Victorian Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan said that the works have prioritised local contractor involvement.
“The past few months have seen a massive effort to bring this new bridge to life, with plenty of involvement from local workers and suppliers,” Ms Allan said.
“Local contractors have worked hard on the project, and we’re focused on continuing to support the local economies of Stratford and Gippsland through the Gippsland Line Upgrade.”
Final works to prepare the Avon River bridge for train services include track and signalling works, removing old sections of railway track and sleepers, and final landscaping works. Additionally, the final pairs of 60-tonne beams are being lifted into place and walls attached.
Local artist Ray Thomas has been commissioned to paint a mural on the side of the bridge.
Part of the Regional Rail Revival program, other works on the joint state-federal funded Gippsland Line Upgrade will continue until late 2022.