A major timetable change will come into effect for metropolitan and regional trains in Victoria from 31 January, 2021. Read more
The historic Flinders Street viaduct is undergoing critical repairs to ensure the over 100-year old rail bridge can continue to support rail traffic.
Work will begin in 2022 on the Suburban Rail Loop, with $2.2 billion committed in the upcoming Victorian state budget to Stage One of the project.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister for the Suburban Rail Loop Jacinta Allan also confirmed that Stage One will begin at Southland and run to Box Hill. Read more
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.
The Victorian Auditor General has found that the Department of Transport and Yarra Trams are at risk of breaching disability legislation due to the lack of accessibility on Melbourne’s tram network. Read more
As part of an overhaul of the PTV app, Melbourne commuters will be able to see how full their train is before boarding.
The technology will first undergo a trial with a small group of public transport users on trains and buses in Melbourne.
Data will come from passenger counting sensors and predictive modelling technology and be fed into real-time updates displayed on the PTV app.
Victorian minister for Public Transport and Roads Ben Carroll said the trial will enable passengers to return to public transport safely.
“The coronavirus pandemic has presented an opportunity for us to rethink how we travel around the state – we want these passenger modelling trials to help people travel more reliably and safely,” he said.
“While everyone has been doing the right thing and staying home over the past few months, we’ve been hard at work to make Victorians’ journeys easier and safer as we move towards a COVID Normal world.”
In addition to crowding data, real-time location information on buses and trains will be communicated through the app.
The updated app will also allow travellers to top up their myki cards and view their balance.
New personalisation features include saving home and work locations, searching favourite journeys, stops, and stations, and improved journey planning capabilities for more predictable journeys.
The needs of blind and low-vision passengers have been incorporated in the app’s redesign, and VoiceOver and TalkBack capabilities enable the app to be fully accessible. Neil King, national manager digital access at Vision Australia said the functions would be welcomed by those with a disability.
“Public transport is vital for people with disability. The Department of Transport’s decision to consider accessibility at the outset of the design process means important public transport information is now fully available to all Victorians.”
Based on current trials and feedback further functionality may be added to the app in the future.
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.
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.
As Victoria enters stage 4 restrictions due to the spread of COVID-19, metropolitan rail services and construction on major rail projects in Melbourne are being cut back.
While public transport is able to continue running, with Melbourne under a curfew from 8pm to 5am, Metro Trains services have been significantly reduced with trains running infrequently. Yarra Trams have stated that some services will run at up to 40 minute frequency. Public Transport Victoria stated that changes to services will be different each night.
All Night Network services, which covers services that run after midnight on Friday and Saturday nights, will be suspended while stage 4 restrictions are in place. The current restrictions only allow people to leave their homes between 8pm and 5am for work, medical care, and caregiving.
According to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews some staff will be redeployed.
“The Night Network will be suspended, and public transport services will be reduced during curfew hours. This will also allow us to redeploy more of our PSOs into our enforcement efforts.”
Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) spokesperson Daniel Bowen said that better communication of changes was needed.
“On Monday night details of drastic evening service cuts for trams and trains were only published as they took effect, giving travellers no time to plan ahead,” he said.
The PTUA recommended running trains to a Saturday timetable would be a better outcome, with less demand during the peaks.
“While the capacity will probably be sufficient to maintain physical distancing given the curfew and the shutdown of most workplaces, the big problem is the wait times. Imagine finishing your shift at 11pm and having to wait 90 minutes for your train home,” said Bowen.
Rail construction projects are also limited under the stage 4 restrictions. Major construction sites are limited to the minimum amount of people required for safety, and no more than 25 per cent of the normal workforce. Small scale construction is limited to a maximum of five people on site. Andrews said the government was reviewing major public projects.
“To date, we’ve almost halved the number of people onsite on some of our biggest government projects. Now we’re going to go through project by project, line by line to make sure they are reduced to the practical minimum number of workers.”
A Major Transport Infrastructure Authority (MTIA) spokesperson said that work would continue under the new restrictions.
“The MTIA is continuing to look at ways to further reduce the number of staff while allowing essential works to continue safely.”
On-site, MTIA staff are required to wear a mask, practice physical distancing and follow hygiene procedures and staggered shifts. A 70-person strong COVID Safety Team have been ensuring that all worksites comply, with multiple checks each day on every project.
Other rail businesses and organisations will largely be able to continue in line with their COVIDsafe plans. This includes passenger and freight operations, including rail yards, and transport support services.
Australasian Railway Association (ARA) CEO Caroline Wilkie said she welcomed the government’s recognition of rail’s essential role and noted that the restrictions struck the right balance between keeping businesses operating and addressing the spread of COVID-19.
“The rail industry has been working hard to keep essential services safely operating throughout 2020,” she said.
“From the train drivers on passenger and freight services to those working in stations, workshops and in the office, rail workers have made sure essential services are there for people who need them no matter what.”
Rail manufacturing businesses will also be able to remain operating, due to their role in supporting an essential service. Manufacturing businesses that support critical infrastructure public works are able to operate as per their COVIDsafe plan.
“Now more than ever we need the rail network to be as reliable and efficient as possible and these businesses are crucial to that effort,” said Wilkie.
The Committee of Melbourne has called for the development of an integrated transport plan for Melbourne to coordinate the provision of transport infrastructure in the city.
While a number of government plans have been developed to guide infrastructure investment, the Committee for Melbourne has found that none are truly comprehensive, detailed, or strategic enough to outline how Melbourne will grow in the long-term.
Martine Letts, CEO Committee for Melbourne said that now was the right time to plan for the future of Melbourne.
“Mobility in Melbourne has reached a tipping point. With the growth pressures the city is facing that continue to build, more than ever a plan is required to accommodate the efficient movement of people and freight. A business-as-usual approach will see road congestion cost Melbourne’s economy up to $10.2 billion per annum by 2031 in operation and pollution costs.”
The report calls for a plan that integrates mobility patterns, land-use, and economic patterns, to enable seamless mobility throughout Greater Melbourne. This would mean that projects such as Suburban Rail Loop and the Melbourne Airport Rail Link would be included as certain aspects of the city’s future, along with further projects such as Melbourne Metro 2.
In addition to the infrastructure itself, the integrated plan would also combine elements such as demand management, technology, land-use planning, and economic development. These elements would guide measures such as public transport frequency, integrated mobility services, transport-oriented development, and using infrastructure investment as a level for investment.
The report recommends that with Melbourne’s population expected to continue to grow, and freight volumes also expected to increase, there is a need for integrated transport planning.
“It is not in anyone’s interest that Melbourne’s transport network returns to the state that it was in prior to the COVID-19 crisis. Peak hour commutes on public transport had become increasingly uncomfortable, while traffic congestion on the road network was worse than any other Australian capital city,” said Letts.
Melbourne was recently highlighted as a major Australian city with worsening congestion and reliability in travel in research by Infrastructure Partnerships Australia and Uber.
“As our economy recovers and we once again welcome increasing numbers of new residents and visitors, and as we produce and consume more goods and services, we must ask ourselves what it will take to remain a highly liveable, prosperous, and sustainable, twenty-first century city. Designing, publishing, and implementing a strategic plan which considers transport, land-use, and economic development planning is a good place to start,” said Letts.