Road closed for elevated rail line construction.

Melbourne road closed to enable elevated rail line construction

A major road in Melbourne’s north has been closed to traffic to allow for the installation of giant bridge beams to carry the raised Upfield line.

Bell Street in Coburg was closed to enable cranes to lift into place the L beams above the road.

Bell Street is where one of four level crossings are being removed on the Upfield line, with level crossings at Munro and Reynard streets in Coburg and Moreland road in Brunswick to be gone by November.

The locally manufactured L beams weigh up to 110 tonnes and measure up to 32 metres in length. For each viaduct segment four L beams are joined together to form two U troughs which the trains will run on.

Once complete, the rail line will travel on 2.5 kilometres of viaducts with two new stations at Coburg and Moreland.

Crawler cranes as well as custom-built 90-tonne gantry cranes have been enabling the lifting to take place. Up to 14 bridge beams can be installed a day, hastening the progress of the project.

In Chelsea, a suburb south east of Melbourne, a new pedestrian bridge will be installed above the rail corridor as part of the removal of three level crossings in the suburb.

The bridge is in addition to the works along the rail corridor with an injection of $750,000 from the local Kingston City Council.

Early works on five level crossings in Chelsea, Edithvale, and Bonbeach are underway, and major works will begin in early 2021. A one-week closure of the Frankston line is now underway to prepare the worksites for major construction. This will involve upgrades to power and signalling, as well as the relocation of utilities. Support pads for heavy machinery and piling rigs will also be constructed.

The lowered rail line will be completed in 2022, enabling better road and pedestrian connections in the region.

Next week, services on the Cranbourne line will be replaced by buses between Cranbourne and Dandenong. The shutdown will enable crews to relocate the Greens Road boom gates to make way for the construction of a new rail bridge. Piling and earthworks further along the line will also be undertaken. These works together will allow for the last level crossing between Cranbourne and Dandenong to be removed.

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.

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.

Beaconsfield

New cark park to be built at Beaconsfield station

An extra 150 spaces will be added to Beaconsfield station, with a car park funded by the federal and Victorian governments.

The current 285-space car park at Beaconsfield station in the outer south east suburbs of Melbourne is often full by 7.30 in the morning, and over 250,000 commuters use the station each year. Commuters instead use nearby streets for parking.

Delivering the project are the Level Crossing Removal Project, Metro Trains Melbourne, and Fulton Hogan.

Federal Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Alan Tudge said that commuters on the Pakenham line would not only be the ones who benefit.

“More parking spaces at trains stations means more people on public transport and more cars off the road.

“Beaconsfield Station is one of 30 sites identified as high priority across Victoria and this will make a big difference in the lives of local people.”

The car park will be built on vacant state-owned land next to the existing car park and will feature improved lighting and CCTV. Bicycle parking will also be facilitated, with the installation of new amenities such as a Parkiteer and 16 additional bike hoops.

Victorian Minister for Public Transport, Roads and Road Safety Ben Carroll said that the investment would enable more people to use public transport.

“Victoria’s Big Build is revitalising transport in the south-east – we want all Victorians to be able to experience our huge investment in our transport infrastructure and be better connected than ever,” he said.

“The Victorian government is getting on with boosting capacity at station car parks that need it most – making sure everyone can use our public transport system without parking congestion being a barrier.”

Federal Member for La Trobe Jason Wood said that the upgrade was the first for an Urban Congestion Fund project in La Trobe.

Funding has also come from the federal Commuter Car Park Fund and the Victorian Car Parks for Commuters Fund.

Craigieburn parking underway

At Craigieburn, in Melbourne’s outer north, 745 new carparking spaces are under construction.

Member for Yuroke Ros Spence said that for the expanding area car parks meant more could travel via train.

“These new spaces will deliver a significant boost to car parking for Craigieburn Station and enable more people to access public transport in our rapidly growing community.”

The carpark is expected to be completed before the end of 2020 and will lift the total number of spaces at the station to over 1,000.

Surrounding streets will be improved to enable pedestrian access, as well as space for bicycles, lighting and CCTV.

crews

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.

ARTC hiring women in Hunter. Photo: Youtube / ARTC

Women shaping rail

This week the rail industry as well as the wider industrial sector recognised the role of women in engineering roles for International Women in Engineering Day, held on June 23.

Now in its seventh year, the theme of this year’s event was ‘Shape the World’, as rail organisations highlighted the contribution of women to the world’s mobility and transportation networks.

The Level Crossing Removal Project highlighted the contribution of women working on the major project, demonstrating the potential to shape the way the city moves through engineering.

Senior project manager Mahnaz Shilani said that working on a project such as the Level Crossing Removal Project is particularly rewarding.

“I get to transform the way Victorian’s live and work and travel, I provide the outputs Victorians expect and that’s quite rewarding.”

Engineering coordinator Hazel Balod said that the rail industry has a place for a diversity of people.

“If you’re interested in solving problems, in seeing how things get built, then there’s definitely a place in this industry for you.”

To continue celebrating and acknowledging the achievements of women in the rail and wider industrial sector, Rail Express is co-presenting the Women in Industry Awards.

Nominations are open now and cover a variety of roles, including mentoring, safety advocacy, and industry advocacy.

Rail Express encourages you to nominate yourself or someone you know – nominations close in just a couple of weeks on Friday, July 3.

Williamstown

Williamstown level crossing to be replaced by rail trench

The Williamstown line will be lowered under Ferguson Street to replace the current level crossing in North Williamstown.

The rail-under-road design was decided upon after community feedback expressed a clear preference for such a design.

As part of the works, North Williamstown Station will also be renewed, with lowered platforms, plaza areas, and landscaping. Community feedback is being sought on the design of the station precinct.

Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan said that it was time for the dangerous level crossing to go.

“This crossing has been the scene tragedy and puts the community at risk every single day – we’re getting rid of it.”

In the past decade there have been five near misses, and the 110 trains that travel through the crossing each weekday cause delays for the 25,000 motorists who wish to cross the rail line.

“Our big build is removing traffic bottlenecks and building a better rail network across the west and right around Melbourne – and it’s creating vital jobs as we rebuild from coronavirus,” said Allan.

The Ferguson Street level crossing removal is one of six level crossing removals in Melbourne’s west on the Werribee and Williamstown lines. In Werribee, crews are preparing the area by relocating underground services and moving traffic lights to enable the construction of a new rail bridge.

Construction in Williamstown will begin in early 2021 and the crossing will be removed by 2022.

Rail delivered to Coburg
New railway track has been hauled to Coburg as part of the Bell to Moreland level crossing removal project.

Made in Whyalla, South Australia, the 10 kilometres of rail strings were transported in 27 metre lengths to a depot in Spotswood, Victoria. There, the strings were welded together into 165-metre lengths, before being hauled by rail to the work site on a 210-metre long train pulled by a diesel locomotive.

The rail will be stored on site before they are placed on the 2.5km elevated rail bridge. The bridge will replace level crossings at Bell, Munro, and Reynard streets in Coburg, and Moreland Road in Brunswick.

MTM

MTM releases footage, warns motorists, students of level crossing risks

Metro Trains Melbourne (MTM) has released footage of severe crashes and near misses at level crossing around Melbourne, as passengers and motorists begin to return to the transport network.

Last year, vehicle incidents have caused delays or cancellations to 700 trains, with incidents highest on the Mernda and Frankston lines.’

General manager – safety operations Adrian Rowland said that motorists need to understand the severity of an incident.

“Trains don’t stop on a sixpence – and if you end up in a compromising position on a level crossing, there is nothing a train can do about it and you’re going to come off worse,” he said.

The most common incident is when vehicles damage boom arms or level crossing equipment, which happened 83 times in the past 12 months.

MTM has also been encouraging school students to be aware of risks around trains, with MTM community education officer Kelli Williams engaging with Victorian school children.

“Trains are 140 metres long, weigh as much as 250 cars, and can’t swerve or stop quickly – so there can be serious consequences if young people take risks,” said Williams.

Minister for Public Transport Melissa Horne shared these concerns.

“Please look out for yourselves and others as our rail network gets busier. There’s no excuse for risk-taking behaviour.”

Incidents involving school students often cover mobile phone and headphone distractions, rushing for trains, forcing open doors, illegally crossing tracks, and using skateboards and scooters on platforms.

MTM said that the continuing program of level crossing removals will improve safety around the network, with currently 75 level crossings to go.

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.