Rail construction works continue to schedule

The building and renewal of rail lines around Victoria is following its planned construction schedule, despite a pause on noise restrictions.

The Victorian government announced on Monday, April 6 that new planning rules will exempt essential businesses from existing noise restrictions.

The exemption allows 24-hour dispatch and delivery during the current State of Emergency and for three months after too. New South Wales and Western Australia have also lifted noise restrictions for construction and logistics operations.

Corey Hannett, director-general of the Victorian Major Transport Infrastructure Authority (MTIA) said the Melbourne Metro Tunnel and Level Crossing Removal works have processes in place to manage construction noise and minimise the inconvenience and impacts of construction on local communities.

“MTIA projects are currently considered essential and we are working with our building partners to deliver our critical infrastructure projects while implementing strict safety measures to protect our workforce and the community,” he said.

For all Victorian project works, the majority of the construction happens during the day, however some 24-hour works will be required. 

“We understand construction can be disruptive and noisy, especially during major works or at night – that’s why we work with residents to find the best solutions and minimise any impacts,” Hannett said.

Richard Wynne, Victorian Minister for Planning approved the new planning rules and said the measures are to support essential business outside normal business hours.

An Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) spokesperson said the North East Rail Line upgrade currently complies with all existing EPA noise regulations and will continue to comply.

“Our projects will not have a need to utilise this new exemption,” the ARTC spokesperson said.

“If we are required to undertake night works, we provide notification to impacted properties, which is our regulatory requirement.”

John Fullerton, ARTC CEO said in a recent interview that was broadcasted on Sky News that transport companies are moving as much as they can to boost the flow of essential goods and services.

“Rail is no different, we move around five million tonnes across the continent from the eastern seaboard to WA and a lot of our product involves groceries and the hardware that sits on those supermarket shelves,” he said on Sky News.

Fullerton said rail volumes are up approximately 13 per cent due to the unprecedented demand for goods.

“There is never a better time to invest in infrastructure,” Fullerton said.

“One thing coming from this pandemic is looking at major projects to offer economic stimulus.

“It’s a huge opportunity to improve the transport lengths particularly on the Eastern seaboard.”

New rail bridge in Melbourne almost completed

The Level Crossings Removal Project team has installed major L-beams that make up a new rail bridge, with 60 per cent of the bridge now complete.

The Toorak Road level crossing in Kooyong will be removed six months ahead of schedule by April this year.

Over the past few weeks, the team at the Toorak Road level crossing removal project have been installing 24 of the 40 L-beams that make up the new rail bridge.

The largest beams spanning Toorak Road are 31 metres long and weigh 128 tonnes.

The beams are lifted into place by two cranes weighing up to 550 tonnes and then stitched together to create the U-trough, which the trains will travel on.

Each beam is made in Kilmore, Victoria and delivered overnight 87km to Toorak Road.

Project director Steve Brown told the Herald Sun the rail bridge was taking shape at record pace.

“We’ve installed more than half of it in under a week, and the project is on track to be finished six months ahead of schedule,” he said to the Herald Sun.

Services on sections of the Glen Waverley line throughout March will not run and be replaced by buses, due to works at Toorak Road, Kooyong.

Following ongoing level crossing removals across Melbourne, Hurstbridge Station located in the city’s north-east has started construction on the $2.8 million project to upgrade commuter car parks.

Ace Infrastructure will build the government funded project which will include new and upgraded car park spaces along Graysharps Road west of Hurstbridge Station.

Other improvements coming up on the Hurstbridge line include a new station at Greensborough and the duplication of three kilometres of track between Greensborough and Eltham, and 1.5 kilometres between Diamond Creek and Wattle Glen.

Melburnians face a city- wide construction blitz this autumn, including major shutdowns of the Frankston and Upfield lines.

Construction blitz planned for Melbourne’s Frankston line

To pave the way for a construction blitz in Victoria in May, work towards the construction of two new stations at Cheltenham and Mentone on the Frankston line and the removal of three congested level crossings is underway.

“We’re getting rid of these death traps – making Cheltenham and Mentone safer, and delivering brand new stations and more open space,” minister for transport infrastructure, Jacinta Allan, said.

“Cheltenham and Mentone are going to have a busy year and I thank residents and traders in advance for their patience during construction, which will deliver more trains, more often.”

The Frankston line will be closed between Frankston and Moorabbin in early to mid-February to enable the removals and continuing work at Cheltenham and Mentone.

Construction on the rail trenches which will lower the Frankston line under Park Road, Charman Road and Balcombe Road started in late 2019.

The crossings are expected to be gone by July 2020, and the new stations will open after finishing works by early 2021.

The works are part of the state government’s $3 billion investment on the Frankston line, which includes the removal of 18 level crossings and 12 new stations. Five crossings have already been removed.

Vic awards $910m in crossing removal work

A pair of major contracts awarded on Monday will see the removal of six level crossings and the construction of three new train stations as part of the Victorian Government’s Level Crossing Removal programme.

A team of Lendlease, Acciona Coleman Rail and WSP has won a $744 million deal to lower the Frankston line and remove level crossings at Edithvale Road in Edithvale, Station Street in Bonbeach, and Argyle Avenue, Chelsea Road and Swanpool Avenue in Chelsea.

The contract also includes new stations to be built at Edithvale, Chelsea and Bonbeach.

The second contract, awarded to Fulton Hogan, is a $166 million deal to remove the Clyde Road level crossing in Berwick by lowering the road under the Pakenham line.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the two new contracts were evidence Labor was following through on its promise to remove 50 level crossings by 2022 and 75 by 2025. The two contracts announced on December 9 bring the total number of contracted crossing removals to 50, paving the way for the first part of that promise to be fulfilled.

“Every level crossing removal makes local streets safer, improves traffic flow and allows us to run more trains – and every one of them creates Victorian jobs,” Andrews said.

“These level crossings choke our roads and put lives at risk,” state member for Mordialloc Tim Richardson said. “Getting rid of them will make a real difference for our community and everyone travelling along this stretch of the Nepean Highway.”

Victoria awards $542 million for level crossing removal and station build

A $542.4 million contract has been awarded for the removal of four level crossings and the build of two new stations in Melbourne’s inner north, the Victorian government announced on Sunday.

Level crossings at Bell Street, Munro Street, Reynard Street and Moreland Road will be removed and two new modern stations built at Coburg and Moreland.

The contract for the project has been awarded to an alliance of John Holland Group, Kellogg Brown & Root and Metro Trains Melbourne, which has removed 6 crossings and built Frankston Station.

“The contracts are now signed and our hardworking team will get on with the job of removing these four dangerous and congested level crossings in Melbourne’s north,” said Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan

According to a government statement, Bell Street is the busiest east-west arterial road in Melbourne’s north, frustrating more than 40,000 drivers held up at the level crossing each weekday.

Removing the four crossings will enable trains to run more frequently on the Upfield line once the Metro Tunnel is complete. As part of the North East Link Project, the government is working to free up traffic and take vehicles off local roads in Melbourne’s north by 2027.

“It is not just locals who want this level crossing gone. People from right across Melbourne get frustrated every time they travel through the northern suburbs and get stuck here,” said Allan.

The team is currently removing the level crossing at High Street, Reservoir, and building the new Reservoir Station.

The two new stations will be connected to other transport offerings, will be more readily accessible, with a landscaped civic plaza and 132 new bike parking spaces.

“Investigative works and service relocations will now ramp up in preparation for major construction next year. The level crossings will be gone in late 2020 and the open space ready for locals to enjoy in 2021,” the government said in a statement.

Demolition commences on Perth level crossing removal

Procurement and demolition works have begun on the Denny Avenue level crossing removal project in the Perth suburb of Kelmscott.

Old buildings in the vicinity of the crossing, which the WA State Government referred to as being “notoriously dangerous”, are being cleared through the federal- and state-funded public transport program Metronet to make room for its Kelmscott project development. The scope of the demolition includes five state houses on Railway Avenue and Third Avenue.

Statistics from the WA Government state that the boom gates at the Denny Avenue level crossing are down for an average of three hours and seven minutes a day, with excessive wait times leading to risk-taking behaviour from drivers who try to cross the track when the boom gate is down or descending.

Work is set to commence later in the year to replace the crossing through the development of a lowered road and raised rail at Davis Road, which runs parallel to Denny Avenue. The crossing at Denny Avenue will be removed entirely.

The WA government is engaging contractors to help design and construct the $69 million development, which will incorporate a rail and bridge contract and a road and civic infrastructure contract.

“Each package of works has a different risk profile for the contractor, so the decision was made to split them into two design and construct contracts,” said WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti.

“The removal of the Denny Avenue level crossing will greatly improve the daily lives of drivers, pedestrians and cyclists, improving safety and decreasing road congestion in the area.”

The chosen contractors will be required to work under the proviso that they keep road and rail disruption in the Kelmscott area to a minimum.

The Denny Avenue project marks an important milestone as the first part of Metronet’s level crossing removal program.