Dual multimillion dollar contracts awarded for rail upgrades in south east Melbourne

Two contracts have been announced to begin work on improving rail connections in south east Melbourne.

The Level Crossing Removal Project announced that the duplication of the Cranbourne Line between Cranbourne and Dandenong will be carried out by two alliances.

The first alliance will bring together McConnell Dowell, Arup, Mott MacDonald, and Metro Trains Melbourne, for the section of track between Dandenong and Lynbrook. This contract will also involved the removal of the Greens Road level crossing in Dandenong South.

The second alliance will complete the track duplication between Lynbrooke and Cranbourne. This alliance comprises Laing O’Rouke, Jacobs, and Metro Trains Melbourne. The grouping will also build a new Merinda Park station and increase the size of the car park at Lynbrooke Station.

Victorian Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan said that the work formed part of a larger suite of works.

“With 11 level crossings already removed along the Cranbourne line, we’re getting on with delivering better services to more people in Melbourne’s growing south east.”

Works on the line duplication, new station, and level crossing removal will be completed by 2025 and allow for a future rail extension to Clyde. Services will be able to run up to every 10 minutes and once the Metro Tunnel is complete, new high-capacity trains will be able to transport 121,000 extra peak hour passengers per week on the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines.

“The Cranbourne Line Upgrade is just one of a suite of major road and rail projects easing congestion, improving safety and making journeys more reliable in the south-east,” said Member for Cranbourne Pauline Richards.

According to program director, Steve Brown, the authority has been looking to get started on these major works.

“These projects are a huge priority for us, and we’ve been working hard to make sure they can start as soon as possible.”

In a separate announcement, the Level Crossing Removal Authority advised that a level crossing in Melbourne’s major commercial and industrial area will be removed in mid 2020 with the construction contract signed.

The contract will be delivered by an alliance of Fulton Hogan and Metro Trains Melbourne.

Early works to begin the South Gippsland Highway, Dandenong South level crossing removal are set to start soon.

The level crossing will be removed and replaced with a road bridge over the rail line.

Early works will include site establishment on South Gippsland Highway and underground services relocation.

Major works in mid 2020 will involved the construction of the new road bridge and the replacement of the busy intersection at South Gippsland Highway and Princes Highway with a fully signalised T-intersection.

A level crossing removal project (LCRP) spokesperson said LCRP will work to minimise local disruptions or community impacts while these works take place. 

High school students begin rail qualification

The next generation of rail professions have begun a pilot program during high school to prepare them to work in the rail industry.

Victorian students in years 9 and 10 are undertaking the Certificate II in Heavy and Light Rail Fundamentals (pre-vocational).

The course will count towards a VCE qualification and is delivered at the Rail Academy in Newport. The units of study involve training in railway operations, including customer service, safety awareness, rail infrastructure and rolling stock. It also involves hands-on training at the rail academy in addition to a weekly class at the Newport Community Hub.

This year 21 students are enrolled from schools in Geelong, Berwick, and Ringwood. The curriculum has been developed by Swinburne University of Technology with the leadership of the Level Crossing Removal Project and the Victorian rail industry.

“As we get on and remove 75 level crossings, build the Metro Tunnel and upgrade regional rail – we’re training the next generation of rail workers right here in Victoria,” said Minister for Public Transport Melissa Horne.

Currently, over half of workers in the rail industry are aged over 45, and only 11 per cent are under 30. With the increasing demand for workers with rail know-how and experience, pipelines of experienced staff will be needed, with 3,000 workers needed across Victoria by 2024.

“This Australian first is helping high school students get a taste for the rail industry – which is booming in Victoria thanks to our unprecedented number of projects on the go,” said Horne.

Once the pilot is complete in 2021, insights from the course will be used to further develop training programs.

In 2019, the Inland Rail project announced that it would be providing skills development for undergraduate students along the route of the project.

Williamstown

Rail line slated for change at Williamstown level crossing removal

The Victorian government is about to release design options for the raising or lowering of the rail line at the Ferguson Street level crossing.

The level crossing is located in Williamstown, on the Williamstown Line south west of Melbourne.

A preliminary design assessment found that road-based options were not appropriate for the crossing, which is used by 110 trains and 25,000 vehicles a day.

According to Melissa Horne, Member for Williamstown and Minister for Public Transport, community feedback will inform the design.

“Our project experts will take the community’s feedback and engineering investigations on board and keep everyone informed as they come up with the best way to remove this level crossing.”

Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan said that the level crossing will be removed by 2022.

“We’ve heard loud and clear from locals that they want this level crossing gone for good – and we’ll continue to work with the community as we get on and deliver what we promised,” said Allan.

The current stage of consultation is the second in the project’s lifetime, with initial consultation drawing 260 online feedback forms, and 200 face-to-face consultations, in addition to updates, mail, and doorknocks. The project found that efficient and safe pedestrian and cycling connections, local heritage and simplifying local roads were prioritised by the community.

Preliminary designs under active considerations show the rail line lowered into a trench underneath Ferguson Street or raised via an overpass, with the station also updated in each design.

New rail bridge and station opens part of $3bn investment

Trains are now running over a new rail bridge in Carrum, located in south-east Melbourne.

Carrum station opened on Monday morning following a two-week construction blitz, including laying track and ballast and installing traffic signalling.

Level crossings at Mascot Avenue, Bonbeach, Station Street, and Eel Race Road were removed as part of the project, making the new station boom-gate free.

The new rail bridge now connects to the existing Frankston line. The Victorian Government has invested $3 billion to upgrade the Frankston line on the Metro trains network, including the removal of 18 level crossings and building 12 new stations.

Sonya Kilkenny,  Member for Carrum, said the “dreaded ding” of boom gates will no longer effect the community, making it safer and quieter.

Construction is still continuing on Carrum station. Current access to the new station is through The Station Street level crossing. The main entrance at McLeod Road is set to open later this year.

Carrum station, located in the bayside suburb, has been designed to accommodate coastal weather conditions, with weather protection pods, shelter canopies on the platform and wind screens in entrances.

The station will create a town square at its main entrance, a garden at the southern entrance, and a new foreshore park and beach promenade linking Carrum to the bay.

Jacinta Allan, Victorian minister for Transport infrastructure, said 34 crossings have been removed and 26 new stations have opened part of the level crossing removal project.

“It’s great to see the new Carrum Station bustling with passengers right on schedule,” Allan said.

“We’re not wasting a minute delivering the road and rail projects our city and state needs.”

Level crossing work comes to Werribee

Construction has begun on replacing the Cherry Street crossing in Werribee, Melbourne.

Instead of the current level crossing, a bridge will be built of the Werribee line between Tarneit Road and the Princes Highway.

Delivering the project is an alliance of McConnell Dowell, Arup, Mott MacDonald, and Metro Trains Melbourne. The alliance has already completed three other level crossing removals around Melbourne, and is building a stabling yard at Wyndham Vale.

The Cherry Street project is the first level crossing removal for the Werribee region. It will be followed by level crossing removals at Old Geelong Rd and Werribee Street. All will be completed in 2022, according to the Level Crossing Removal Project.

Victorian Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan visited the site on January 13 as work began on the $113.8 million contract.

“The Cherry Street level crossing can cause delays of up to 38 minutes in the two-hour morning peak, so removing these boom gates will mean less frustration and better travel times for drivers,” said Allan.

Member for Werribee Tim Pallas highlighted the economic benefit the project would bring to the local community.

“These major rail and road projects are creating thousands of jobs in Melbourne’s west and providing vital experience to Victorian apprentices, trainees and cadets under the Major Project Skills Guarantee,” said Pallas.

In addition to the level crossing replacement works, 130 new car parking spaces will be created at Werribee station.

Where cars once crossed the rail line at Cherry Street a new pedestrian underpass will be built to connect shops and homes for pedestrians and cyclists, and a shared-use path will also open up new connections in the area around the rail corridor.

Rail bridge design plans complete

The initial designs have been completed for a steel truss bridge to support a second train track over Eumemmerring Creek in Dandenong South.

The proposed design would see no foundations or pillars dug into the waterway, and no modifications made to the existing single-track bridge at Eumemmerring Creek.

The bridge is designed to be assembled on site, with many parts to be prefabricated at an off-site location, reducing the time and space needed for construction. The new, duplicated bridge will be constructed to the west side of the current bridge and measure 65 metres in length.

Works at Eumemmerring Creek will start in 2020, as part of the Cranbourne Line Upgrade which involves eight kilometres of new track lain next to the existing line in order to enable more reliable and frequent trains.

Other line upgrade works in the Dandenong South area include removing the level crossing at Greens Road and duplicating a rail bridge at Abbotts Road.

Protecting the creek’s ecosystem has been a major focus for the team of engineers and designers working through design options for the Eumemmerring Creek site.

According to the Level Crossing Removal Project, expert ecologists and arborists were engaged to identify sensitive plants and animals. The construction team has devised a detailed plan to ensure fauna and fauna are protected during construction.

Rail bridge construction underway in Melbourne

Work towards rail bridge foundations has now commenced in an inner Melbourne suburb.

Thirty-four piles (deep concrete foundations to support the rail bridge) are being bored at the Toorak Road site in Kooyong.

Piling rigs and cranes have been at work on the site of the level crossing removal project. A piling rig is a specialist piece of equipment with a high mast that enables it to dig deep into the ground.

The piles at Toorak Road will be up to 20 metres deep and 2.1 metres in diameter. The locations of the piles were determined after geotechnical investigations were conducted in late 2018 and early 2019.

Once the piles have been bored, cranes will lift a steel cylindrical ‘cage’ into place to reinforce the pile, with each piling cage weighing between 9 tonnes and 12.5 tonnes. The hole is then reinforced with steel and concrete.

“This process creates secure foundations and ensures safety and stability of the rail bridge,” according to a Victorian government statement.

Bridge to replace level crossing in Werribee

A new road bridge will replace a level crossing in Werribee, as part of Victoria’s Level Crossing Removal Project.

Major work towards the bridge is set to start in 2020, according to a government statement made this week, so that the Cherry Street level crossing can be removed.

To improve connectivity, a pedestrian footpath will be added on the new road bridge. A new shared-use path along the rail line will connect the Princes Highway and the Tarneit Road intersection back to the pedestrian underpass at Cherry Street.

A pedestrian underpass will be built, connected by ramps and stairs, to maintain pedestrian and cyclist access. The project will ultimately create a safer area, improve traffic flow and enable a more reliable commute.

A site office is also to be established along the rail corridor east of the Cherry Street level crossing once a contract has been awarded, says the government.

Meanwhile, the Level Crossing Removal Projects says that planning is progressing for designs at Old Geelong Road in Hoppers Crossing and Werribee Street in Werribee.

Victoria’s Reservoir Station to open in December

The new Reservoir Station is set to open in Victoria once removal of a dangerous and congested level crossing has finished, Victoria’s Level Crossing Removal Project announced last week.

The High Street level crossing removed within the year, and trains will start travelling on the Reservoir rail bridge and stopping at the new Reservoir Station from mid- December this year.

Before the new station can open, however, workers will demolish the old Reservoir Station platforms and install new track and overhead wires.

Once the old ground-level tracks are removed, work will begin to complete the new station with new lifts, staff facilities, awaiting room, kiosk and parking facilities. This will be completed in 2020.

Landscaping work will also commence towards new community spaces, including the planting of 330 extra trees. This is intended to improve pedestrian connectivity between Edwardes Street and Broadway.

The current temporary station facilities on High Street will still be in use until the new station facilities are complete in 2020, including the temporary access via stairs.

Passengers who require lift access will be provided with alternative transport between Regent and Reservoir stations, according to a government statement.

High Street to close to traffic for Reservoir rail bridge construction

Intersection works on the Reservoir level crossing removal in Melbourne are set to commence next month with a team of roughly 200 workers.

Foundations and columns outside the intersection for the building of a new rail bridge over the crossing are now complete, with the next phase of works set to start from mid-August.

The High Street intersection will be closed to traffic to accommodate the works from August 19 to late December, with workers building two 185 metre-long segments of steel bridge. 

“Trains will continue to operate for most of this time, with alternative access routes in place for road traffic and continued changes in place for pedestrians,” the Victorian Government announced.

“We suggest drivers allow up to an additional 15 minutes to travel the east–west detours at peak or busy times of day.”

North-south journeys and non-peak hour journeys are expected to take less additional time.

The next phase of the Reservoir project will include the construction of the base of the elevated platform above Reservoir Station, which is made up of six steel modules of up to 100 tonnes each in addition to 190 concrete planks.

The first sections of the bridge will also be installed, in addition to up to 10 bridge pieces weighing up to 75 tonnes apiece to be lifted into place by a 350-tonne crane.