New Cheltenham station opens on schedule

A new station for the Melbourne suburb of Cheltenham has opened on schedule on Sunday, August 16, despite restrictions on construction activity during Melbourne’s stage 4 lockdown restrictions.

The new station on the Frankston line is one of two that were replaced during a winter works blitz, with the neighbouring Mentone station opened early in late July. Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan said that work has continued within the new requirements.

“Despite the challenging conditions the pandemic has created, we’re continuing work on our critical infrastructure projects with strict safety measures to create safer connections for our communities and support local jobs.”

Along with the new stations, level crossing has been removed to improve community connectivity and safety along the rail line, taking the total number of level crossings removed to 38 out of the 75 goal by 2025.

Both Cheltenham and Mentone stations are five-star Green Star rated for their environmentally sensitive construction. This has included solar panels, water saving and rainwater collection, and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

The new station also includes a forecourt and community open space. A new passenger car park is expected to be completed by mid 2021. Landscaping works and active transit links are continuing and will finish by late 2020.

The Frankston line has seen significant renewal, with eight stations rebuilt out of a total of 12, and a total of 18 level crossings removed.

When stage 4 restrictions were put in place across Melbourne, construction on major rail infrastructure projects, including the Level Crossing Removal Project, was cut to 25 per cent of normal staffing levels. The Major Transport Infrastructure Authority (MTIA) has implemented strict safety and hygiene measures including the wearing of masks and physical distancing requirements across all MTIA sites which include level crossing removals as well as project such as the Melbourne Metro Tunnel.

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Crews closing in on new stations, track, roads from Cheltenham to Mentone

Crews are over halfway to completing the largest ever level crossing removal blitz in Victoria.

Since May 23, up to 1,700 people have worked to remove three level crossings and construct two new stations between Cheltenham and Mentone. On 24-hour shifts, the crews are over halfway through the 64 day construction blitz before trains return to the Frankston line on Monday, July 27.

The concerted work effort has required a phalanx of machinery and equipment, with 180 large pieces of plant and the largest mobile crane in Australia deployed to the project, coming in at 750 tonnes.

200,000 cubic metres of soil have been removed from the worksites, with 50 trucks carrying away the spoil every hour. Other materials required include over 6,800 tonnes of steel reinforcing and 15,000 cubic metres of concrete.

Work has begun on laying the 25,000 tonnes of ballast needed for the new rail tracks, as well as the start of signalling and overhead wire works. Concurrently, trench walls are being reinforced and stations buildings are platforms are in the process of being constructed.

As of late June, 480 tonnes of rail and over 20km of overhead wiring are still to be brought on site.

New stations are only a month away, with Mentone Station scheduled to open on Friday, August 3, and Cheltenham Station on Friday, August 17.

The intersection of Talbot Crescent and Toorak Road has been reopened. This intersection was closed to make way for the Toorak Road level crossing removal and was moved west of the rail bridge, aligned with a new pedestrian crossing across Toorak Road.

Landscaping is currently continuing, while play and exercise equipment is now open. Nearby traffic lights have been synchronised to allow pedestrians to cross safely and cyclists to cross without dismounting. The signals will also improve traffic flow.

Dangerous level crossings removed and new connections about to open

Level crossing works in Melbourne’s south east have reached major milestones, with boom gates removed and bridge beams installed.

At Evans Road, Lyndhurst, seven giant bridge beams weighing 70 tonnes and 32 metres in length have been installed. The beams will support a new road bridge over the Cranbourne line, allowing smoother connections around the transport network.

The beams were made in Victoria in Kilmore, and delivered to the site by truck.

The level crossing at Evans Road had been a site of concern for the community since it was closed in 2005, with motorists taking extreme measures to avoid detours. The removal of the level crossing will reconnect communities such as Lyndhurst, Lynbrook, and Cranbourne West.

Work will be completed on the Evans Road level crossing by the end of 2020.

Boom gates in Cheltenham and Mentone at Park, Charman and Balcombe roads are now gone, meaning the suburbs in south east Melbourne are now level crossing free.

The works are part of the largest level crossing blitz ever undertaken, and once complete rail trenches will be constructed, and two new stations will be built at Charman and Balcombe roads.

Trains will return to the line on July 27, and roads will reopen even sooner, with Park Road opening on June 8, Charman Road on June 11 and Balcombe Road on June 23.

The historic Cheltenham Station is being preserved, after being dismantled and relocated to storage. The new station will reopen on August 17 while the new Mentone station will open on August 3.

Finishing works including car parking, landscaping and walking and cycling connections will continue until the end of 2020.

Locally-made concrete beams support level crossing removal

Locally-made concrete beams have been installed at the Cardinia Road level crossing removal project.

The crossing, located in Pakenham, south-east Melbourne, will be replaced with a road bridge over the rail line.

The 24 beams, locally-made in the regional Victorian town of Kilmore, are up to 32 metres long and weigh up to 60 tonnes each. The beams were trucked to site and installed with cranes.

The Cardinia Road level crossing removal is part of a wider works blitz on the Pakenham line, with work also underway on removing crossings at Clyde Road, Berwick, and South Gippsland Highway, Dandenong.

Once finished the 77,000 vehicles that use the three level crossings will more smoothly move through the area and will not have to wait while boom gates are down for a third of the morning peak. In total, 17 level crossings are being removed on the Pakenham line.

A construction blitz is also about to kick off at Balcombe Road, in Mentone. Boom gates were removed on Friday, May 15 and a five-week road closure begun as part of a nine-week construction period.

The Balcombe Road level crossing removal is part of the largest level crossing construction blitz with 1,700 people working in Cheltenham and Mentone for 64 days.

At the end of the works, three level crossings will be gone, with the rail line lowered and road bridges built above the rail corridor.

Balcombe Road will reopen on Tuesday, June 23, and the new Mentone station opening on Monday, August 3.

Prior to their removal, the boom gates at Balcombe Road were down for 49 minutes in the morning peak, with congestion backing up to the Nepean highway.

Drilling works continuing for Suburban Rail Loop

Early geotechnical works are continuing as part of the first stages of the Suburban Rail Loop.

Having begun in November 2019, during April a number of site investigations have taken place in Clayton, Burwood, Notting Hill, Mount Waverly, Highett, Cheltenham, and Glen Waverly.

The works so far include drilling to gain data and information about local ground conditions. This involves confirming an area is free of utility services, geotechnical drilling and testing, and installing a groundwater monitoring well for samples and measurement of groundwater levels.

Investigations have been focused in the south east of Melbourne, as the first stage of the loop will run from Cheltenham to Box Hill. Clayton will serve as a new transport super hub while new stations will be built in Burwood and Monash.

In March this year, a number of investigations were also carried out in areas from Box Hill to Highett. The project aims to have 100 boreholes drilled by mid-2020.

Once complete, the Suburban Rail Loop will connect each metropolitan train line in Melbourne and travel around the city from Cheltenham to Werribee via Melbourne Airport.

Initial construction works are expected to commence in 2022. When operational, the Suburban Rail Loop will run as a separate rail line, using dedicated rollingstock and separate systems. The same ticketing system will serve both networks, however.

Cheltenham and Mentone works begin

A week-long closure is now underway to allow for the removal of three level crossings and the building of two new stations in Cheltenham and Mentone in south east Melbourne.

The new stations will open in mid-2020, and in the meantime buses will replace trains between Moorabbin and Mordialloc.

While the stations are shutdown, crews will work on piling, service relocation, and other works. Later in 2020, a two-month shut down will be imposed for further works.

From May 24, rail trenches will be dug out and new stations will be built.

The new Mentone station is scheduled to open in mid-July, and Cheltenham station is expected to open in August.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, extra precautions will be in place for workers and passengers. These measures will ensure job security for those working on the level crossing removals and new stations.

Minister for Transport Infrastructure, Jacinta Allan, said that these construction works will continue while the response to COVID-19 continues.

“We’re continuing work on these projects despite the COVID-19 outbreak – providing certainty to local workers and making progress on delivering a better train network for Victorians,” she said.

The works at the two stations will also provide benefits to the community

“These level crossings are dangerous and unsafe – we’re getting rid of them, like we promised, as well as delivering new stations for Cheltenham and Mentone, with more open space for the community to enjoy,” said Allan.