Level Crossing Removal Project

Level Crossing Removal Project reaches 43 crossings gone milestone

A number of level crossing milestones have been reached across Melbourne.

On the Upfield Line, trains are now running on the newly elevated line, and four level crossings have been removed.

Work has been ongoing on site since late July and has beaten its schedule despite operating under COVID-19 restrictions during Melbourne’s second wave.

The four crossings at Munro, Bell, and Renard streets and Moreland Road will be gone by Wednesday, November 4, improving safety, reducing congestion, cutting travel times, and enabling traffic to move more freely through this area of inner Melbourne.

Victorian Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan on Monday said work was continuing on removing the Bell Street level crossing.

“One dangerous set of boom gates on Bell Street is now gone for good – and we’re now getting rid of its neighbour in Preston, with this notorious arterial road to be totally level crossing-free by 2022.”

In addition to the level crossing removals, two new stations are being built at Coburg and Moreland. The stations will open in mid-December. Until then, and as platforms, station buildings, and customer facilities are completed, services to those stations are being replaced by buses and trams.

“We’ve made great progress over the past five years and we’re not slowing down. We’ve removed 43 level crossings and built 28 new train stations – delivering better connections, supporting thousands of jobs,” said Allan.

Work on open space and landscaping beneath the rail line will continue into 2021.

Work will move further north on the Upfield Line in the next year, with crossings in Glenroy and Preston to go by the end of 2022.

On Saturday, November 1, the Evans Road crossing was the 39th level crossing to go.

A new road bridge over the Cranbourne Line was opened, and Evans Road is the first crossing to go as all level crossing are removed between Cranbourne and the Melbourne CBD by 2025. The Cranbourne Line will also be duplicated, allowing for a train ever 10 minutes.

“Getting rid of the Evans Road crossing is the first step in our massive Cranbourne Line upgrade – removing every single level crossing and duplicating the line to get people in the south-east home safer and sooner,” said Allan.

Victoria, Commonwealth fund freight connection between Dandenong and Port of Melbourne

A new freight rail connection in Dandenong South will remove 100,000 trucks of Melbourne’s roads a year.

The new rail line will connect the Salta Properties freight hub in Dandenong South with the Melbourne suburban rail network, allowing shuttle trains to run between the Port of Melbourne and Melbourne’s southeast.

The $28 million project is funded by the federal and state governments, with each contributing $18.3m and $9.7m respectively.

The project will be completed by the Level Crossing Removal Authority as part of the Cranbourne Line upgrade.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the connection would form part of a wider network of freight rail connecting the Port of Melbourne with intermodal facilities.

“The new spur line will connect the intermodal freight terminal at Dandenong South to the Cranbourne Line. As part of the Port Rail Shuttle Network it will help cut the number of trucks on inner Melbourne roads by up to 100,000 each year and support hundreds of jobs during construction and as part of the terminals ongoing operations.”

Victorian Minister for Ports and Freight Melissa Horne said the project would make freight more competitive.

“We’re making rail freight a more attractive option for businesses, and this investment means containers can be transported by rail the entire way from the Port of Melbourne to Dandenong South,” she said.

“It will reduce congestion at the port gate and cut the high cost of the last mile that so often disadvantages containers moved by rail.”

The Port of Melbourne has recently made major investments to improve the capacity of rail to handle cargo. The port authority is investing $125m in on-dock rail, to enable freight to be taken directly from ship to rail and to intermodal terminals such as these.

The Victorian government has also invested in two other port rail shuttles, one to Altona and another to Somerton, with further funding to be announced.

transport infrastructure

Major works continuing across Victoria’s transport infrastructure program

Works to remove level crossings on three lines through Melbourne will step up during spring, as work continues on transport infrastructure projects around Melbourne.

Fifteen level crossing projects are taking their next step in September. On the Upfield line, removals of four level crossings are underway along with the construction of two new stations.

On the Cranbourne line, duplication works will see buses replace trains from September 8-13. Four level crossings on that line are also set to go, getting it closer to being the first level crossing free line in Melbourne.

Sunbury line works are scheduled for November to enable the line to carry newer trains once the Metro Tunnel opens. These works involve track, power, and platform upgrades and will require a shutdown on the line from November 7-22 and on the Bendigo line from 7 to 21.

For the trains themselves, safety and performance testing of the new High Capacity Metro Trains will be conducted on the Werribee Line from late August

On the Metro Tunnel project, all four tunnel boring machines are in action and the twin tunnels are getting closer to completion.

The tram network will also benefit from maintenance works. Upgrades will be carried out in Malvern, South Melbourne, Parkville, and Pascoe Vale South. Tram stabling in East Melbourne will also be improved, to allow for more trams during special events.

Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan said the works will have a wider benefit.

“These critical projects are building a better transport system, while supporting local jobs and Victoria’s economy,” she said.

Across all projects, tight hygiene controls are in place under Melbourne’s stage four restrictions and workforce numbers have been reduced.

“The safety of our workforce and the community is our priority – we are taking strict precautions to ensure our critical transport infrastructure projects can safely continue under coronavirus restrictions,” said Allan.

Upgrades kicking off for Melbourne rail corridors

A $1bn upgrade to the Cranbourne Line is one of a number of upgrades to the Melbourne rail network to recently take a step forward.

Duplication of eight kilometres of track between Cranbourne and Dandenong is now underway, in addition to the 11 level crossings already removed.

The duplicated track will allow services ever 10 minutes, increasing capacity by 121,000 passengers in the peak across the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines.

Construction crews are working on power, signalling, and drainage upgrades at Merinda Park Station and in the rail corridor from Cranbourne to Greens Road.

Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan said that works will enable a first for the line.

“We’re getting on with the massive Cranbourne Line Upgrade, delivering more frequent services and removing its last four level crossings – making it Melbourne’s first level crossing-free train line.”

Level crossings still to go on the line include the Abbotts Road level crossing, where 25-metre foundations are being drilled into the ground, and the Merinda Park station will be renewed in August. At Evans Road the bridge will remove the level crossing before the end of 2020, restoring connections in Lyndhurst, Lynbrook and Cranbourne West.

Elsewhere on the Melbourne rail network, the federal government has committed $8 million in funding to remove the Glenferrie Road level crossing in Kooyong. The funding will allow the Victorian government to begin a business case, said federal Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Alan Tudge.

“This funding means we can start vital scoping and early development works for the level crossing removal.”

The $8m comes alongside $2m for initial feasibility studies for level crossing removals at Tooronga Road in Tooronga and Madden Grove in Burnley.

Glenferrie Road has been identified as a high priority level crossing in studies in 2013 by VicRoads and in 2017 by the Victorian Auditor General, in part due to the interaction of trains, trams, and vehicles.

In the west of the Melbourne rail network, two level crossings have been fast tracked to begin construction in early 2021. Level crossings at Fitzgerald Road in Ardeer and Deer Park’s Robinsons Road will be removed by 2023.

At Robinsons Road a road underpass will be built, and at Fitzgerald Road a road overpass will be built to minimise disruptions to train services and allow for upgrades to the Geelong-Ballarat train line.

Safety and congestion have been a concern at both level crossings, with 18 near misses since 2012 and boom gates down for 45 per cent of the morning peak.

With the two level crossings gone, the Mount Derrimut Road level crossing can be removed by 2025, the last between Deer Park and the city.

Victoria is now seeking community feedback on the design of the level crossings.

In Hallam, station designs have been released as part of the removal of Hallam Road level crossing, with a new elevated rail line with access from both sides of Hallam Road. Works is expected to begin at the end of 2020 with the crossing to be removed in 2022.

As some level crossing removal projects begin, others are closer to completion. At Mentone Station, the station will open two weeks ahead of schedule and Cheltenham station is on schedule to open on Sunday, August 16. Frankston line trains will begin running a week ahead of schedule, stopping at Mentone Station from Monday, July 20.

New facilitation at the station include a climate-controlled waiting area, sheltered seating, and electronic passenger information displays to enable smoother transitions between bus and train services. Accessibility and access has been improved and work will now begin on landscaping and active transit connections between Cheltenham and Mentone.

Cheltenham and Mentone stations have also received a five-star Green Star sustainable design rating from the Green Building Council of Australia. The award has recognised the installation of solar panels, water saving, and rainwater collection facilities.

Works to remove level crossings in Mooroolbark and Lilydale begin

Initial works have begun to remove the level crossings at Manchester Road, Mooroolbark and Maroondah Highway, Lilydale, in Melbourne’s outer east.

At both sites, works to establish construction sites are beginning, with service relocations and vegetation removal commencing. Fencing and construction workers will arrive in the coming days and weeks.

Most major construction will begin towards the end of 2020. In preparation for this a test pile will be sunk into the ground at the western commuter carpark at Lilydale station to determine the depth needed for foundations for the rail bridge over Maroondah Highway.

In addition to removing the level crossings, two new stations will be built at Mooroolbark and Lilydale, as well as a multi-deck carpark at Mooroolbark to increase capacity to 900 spaces.

Completion is expected by 2022.

In late December 2019, the $496 million contract for both crossings was awarded to an alliance of Laing O’Rouke, Jacobs, and Metro Trains Melbourne.

Work will involve raising the rail line above both roads and elevated platforms at each new station.

Over 53,000 vehicles travel through the two level crossings each day, with boom gates down for a quarter of the morning peak. In the last 10 years there have been 13 crashes, with one fatal incident.

In Dandenong South, the new rail bridge over Greens Road has been updated with new screening to keep maintenance workers safer once the project is complete. The removal of the level crossing there is part of the $679 million Cranbourne Line upgrade, which involves track duplication and more frequent services.

Work sites at Greens Road have been established since March, along with utility works and preparatory works for line duplication.

Once finished, the screens will surround both viaducts which will carry the rail line over Greens Road. An alliance of McConnell Dowell, Arup, Mott MacDonald, and Metro Trains Melbourne will remove the level crossing at Greens Road and duplicate the line between Dandenong and Lynbrook.

Greens Road rail bridge looking east. Concept design subject to change.