Major projects

Community engagement key to rail project success

The successful delivery of the $150 billion rail infrastructure pipeline is at risk if community engagement best practices are adhered to, a new report from Infrastructure Partnerships Australia (IPA) has found.

With $20bn worth of infrastructure delayed or cancelled due to community opposition in the last decade, the current acceleration of infrastructure investment will need to take local attitudes into account.

Chief executive of IPA, Adrian Dwyer, said that rail has particular issues to confront in the construction and operation of infrastructure.

“Even though the construction impacts of a project may be short-term in nature, the long-term operational impacts of rail infrastructure means that social licence needs to be thought about early and often.”

The report, produced in partnership with LEK Consulting, found that to be effective, community consultation and engagement needed to be embedded throughout the project and be an active ingredient in decision-making processes.

Two major rail projects were highlighted for their effective engagement with community. The report noted that the active involvement of the community in the design of Sydney Metro and the Level Crossing Removal Project were best practice examples.

“The Level Crossing Removal and Sydney Metro projects have shown how extensive community engagement, underpinned by clear and simple messaging and genuine opportunities for co-design, can build trust and win over communities to the value of a project,” said Dwyer.

In both cases, community input led to changes in the design of the project, ongoing works were communicated clearly, and, where there was community opposition as in the case of the Level Crossing Removal Project, the benefits and costs were honestly communicated.

These case studies demonstrated the unique dynamics that rail projects will have to grapple with as further major projects are announced.

“The linear and long-term nature of rail infrastructure means the impacts are highly localised to rail corridors and station locations while the benefits are diffuse,” said Dwyer.

Four level crossing removals among program of winter works

Four level crossings are scheduled to go on the Upfield line by November 2020.

Victorian Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan said that a construction blitz will remove the four level crossings at Munro, Reynard, and Bell streets, and Moreland Road.

Work crews of over 1,000 will work around the clock from July 28 to November 15.

The blitz involves elevating two kilometres of rail line and constructing two new stations, at Coburg and Moreland stations.

“Over the next few months we’re ramping up work on our Big Build, including the biggest level crossing removal blitz we’ve ever done,” said Allan.

Buses will replace trains between Anstey and Upfield, however a new turnback facility at Anstey will allow trains to continue between Anstey and the city, reducing the impact on commuters.

Works on other level crossing on the Frankston line are getting underway in May, with trenches to be excavated and new stations built to facilitate the removal of level crossings at Park and Charman roads in Cheltenham, and Balcombe Road in Mentone.

Other projects are underway in Lyndhurst, Pakenham, Berwick, Edithvale, Chelsea and Bonbeach, Werribee, Hoppers Crossing, Mooroolbark and Lilydale.

As part of Victoria’s Big Build program, construction on the Metro Tunnel Town Hall station is taking another step forward. Trams will not run along Flinders Street between Elizabeth and Russell streets from July 5-11 and cars on St Kilda Road won’t be able to turn left into Flinders street to maintain pedestrian safety around the construction site. The Sunbury Line upgrade, to facilitate trains to run on the line as part of the Metro Tunnel project, is also continuing in late June.

Winter will also see track renewal and maintenance in the CBD and on the regional train network, specifically the Bendigo, Swan hill and Echuca lines. On the Bendigo Line between Sunbury and Bendigo the $16.1 million sleeper replacement program was completed a month ahead of schedule. 50 workers were on site around the clock to renew 48,000 sleepers, locally manufactured at Avalon, near Geelong.

“Building these projects is more important than ever, as we rebuild our economy and get people back to work,” said Allan.

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.

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.

Three more level crossings scheduled for removal by July

Three more level crossings are set to go by July on Melbourne’s Frankston line.

In an update to the project, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan highlighted that level crossings at Park and Charman roads in Cheltenham, and Balcombe Road in Mentone will be gone by mid-year.

Additionally, the new Kananook Train Storage Facility is scheduled to open in early May while construction on the new Carrum station and open spaces continues.

“We’ve worked really hard with our construction partners to ensure we can get this vital work done that will deliver more trains, more often – whilst protecting the safety of our workforce and supporting local jobs,” said Allan.

In addition to these three level crossings, work will also begin on site offices and work areas at Edithvale, Chelsea, and Bonbeach to remove five level crossings and build three new stations, making it one of the largest combined works blitzes in the Level Crossing Removal Project.

“This will be the biggest level crossing construction blitz we’ve ever done, but the disruption will be worth it,” said Andrews.

The nine-week blitz will begin in late May, with one extra week added to allow for physical distancing and other health and safety measures to be implemented. More than 1,700 workers will be employed across the sites in south-east Melbourne to build the new rail trenches and roads over the rail line.

After trains return to the line in July, finishing works at the new Cheltenham and Mentone stations will continue, with both stations expected to open in August.

The works are part of a $3 billion investment in the Frankston Line, which involves the removal of 18 level crossings and 12 new stations. The line will also benefit from the Metro Tunnel construction, as trains on the Cranbourne/Pakenham line will not share the track with Frankston line trains from South Yarra, enabling a 15 per cent increase in capacity on the Frankston line in peak periods.

Work about to begin on level crossings in Werribee

Site establishment works are about to get underway to remove two level crossings west of Melbourne near Werribee.

This month, site office and are preparation works will begin at the Werribee Street level crossing and at the Old Geelong Road level crossing in Hoppers Crossing.

At Werribee Street, the Level Crossing Removal Project will construct a new rail bridge over Werribee Street. Works in April and May will involve setting up site offices on Cottrell Street, locating utilities including electricity and water and removing trees and vegetation within the project area. Work will then begin on piling for bridge foundations and a temporary track, to ensure freight services can continue running on the Geelong Line.

Similar works will get underway at the Hoppers Crossing Site to prepare for the construction of a road bridge and pedestrian overpass above the rail line. The Hoppers Crossing station carpark will be relocated while works are progressing.

These works notifications following the confirmation of designs for the two level crossing removals. McConnell Dowell, Arup, Mott MacDonald, and Metro Trains Melbourne will be delivering the work, in addition to the Cherry Street level crossing work nearby.

Melbourne trains now using new rail bridge

Trains are travelling over the new rail bridge at Toorak Road for the first time as part of the Toorak Road level crossing removal.

On Monday morning, April 13, Victoria’s 35th level crossing was officially removed, six months ahead of schedule.

For the past nine days, crews have worked around the clock to remove the boom gates, lay new tracks, install wiring and signalling, and connect the new rail bridge to the Glen Waverley Line.

The new rail bridge was largely constructed with 40 locally manufactured L-beams forming the bridge, each up to 31 metres long and weighing up to 128 tonnes. 

Prior to its removal, Toorak Road was one of Victoria’s most congested level crossings. 

 The major removal is part of Victoria’s Big Build program, and works continue to deliver the Labor Government’s $70 billion infrastructure program.

The Metro Tunnel Project’s first two Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs), Joan and Meg, have both broken through at South Kensington.

The remaining two TBMs, Alice and Millie, are being assembled at Anzac Station, with preparations underway for both machines to be launched in the coming weeks.

The Regional Rail Revival program is also on track. Workers have upgraded four level crossings on the Warrnambool line as part of the $114 million Warrnambool Line Upgrade. 

Premier Daniel Andrews said 35 dangerous and congested level crossings have been removed and the government is now almost halfway to delivering its promise of removing 75 level crossings by 2025.

“Work looks a little different on our big build – with extra physical distancing precautions in place due to coronavirus, so we can protect our workers and protect their jobs,” Andrews said.

Strict protocols are in place on all Major Transport Infrastructure Authority worksites to protect the health and safety of construction workers and the community, and are consistent with the advice from the Chief Health Officer.

Construction activities have been modified to allow social distancing and extra protection for workers who need to work in proximity for short periods of time, as well as enhanced industrial cleaning and additional hygiene measures in place.

Jacinta Allan, minister for transport infrastructure said more vital works will continue across the city and state, with additional measures to keep workers safe and to get these projects done.

Final work begins to remove Toorak Road level crossing

The Toorak Road level crossing will be removed before the end of April, with a nine-day works blitz about to kick off.

The Toorak Road level crossing in Kooyong will be the 35th crossing to be removed in the Level Crossing Removal Project and having the rail line run over the major arterial road will reduce traffic congestion and improve safety on the rail corridor.

The final works to be completed include removing the boom gates on Toorak Road, installing new tracks, ballast, overhead wiring, complete signalling works and the connection of the rail bridge to the Glen Waverly Line.

To ensure that the works can continue while social distancing and other COVID-19 measures are in place, extra protocols have been introduced to the worksite. These have been negotiated between the government, unions, and contractors to ensure that the 15,000 staff working on transport infrastructure in Victoria can continue to progress projects, said Minister for Transport Infrastructure, Jacinta Allan.

“The important works will go ahead with extra precautions to keep workers safe as we continue to fight coronavirus, ensuring these critical works can be completed quickly and providing job security for workers on major projects.”

While these works are conducted, motorists will be rerouted around the construction zone, and buses will replace trains between Burnley and East Malvern.

Once complete, further finishing works will be complete in 2021, including planting 23,000 trees, plants, and grasses.

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.

Berwick level crossing removal design updated

The level crossing removal at Clyde Road, Berwick has been expanded to include the bus interchange at Berwick station. This extends the current project beyond lowering the road underneath the rail line.

Fulton Hogan and Metro Trains Melbourne will deliver the upgrades, which involves moving the bus interchange to the south side of the station. The new location will make the interchange safer, reduce travel times, and allow for more services to run once it is open.

Roughly 22,000 vehicles use the Clyde Road level crossing every day, with boom gates down for a third of the morning peak.

Construction will begin with site establishment works, which include a site compound, fencing, and offices, which will allow major construction works to start. The Level Crossing Removal Project expects works to be completed in 2022.

A key benefit of the project is enabling constant access for emergency services vehicles, which currently have to wait at the level crossing when the boom gates are down.

With the new design, access to Jane Street and Reserve Street will be maintained, and a new U-turn north of Gibb Street will be installed.

The changes were based on community feedback, and are designed to benefit residents and businesses, as well as emergency services.

In January, the City of Casey urged the Victorian state government to improve the amenity of the crossing with wider footpaths, landscaping, and lighting.

“This project also provides a once-off opportunity to transform the Berwick Railway Station, one of Melbourne’s busiest, ageing and out-of-date stations,” said City of Casey Mayor Susan Serey.