Roadheaders

Roadheaders meet at future Town Hall station

A significant milestone has been reached on the Melbourne Metro Tunnel project, as three roadheaders meet at what will be the site of the new Town Hall station.

The three roadheaders have been at work creating the cavern and pedestrian connections between the new station and Flinders Street and Flinders Quarter.

“This is a huge milestone for this important project, bringing Melbourne another step closer to a turn up and go rail system, while keeping our construction workers safely on the job,” said Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan.

The new Town Hall station will be one of two interchange stations between the Metro Tunnel and the existing City Loop, with the other being at State Library/Melbourne Central.

When complete, the new station will be 33 metres deep and longer than a city block.

“We’ve made such amazing progress, we now have deep underground a new station entrance at Federation Square, the length of the future station platform and come out at the new entrance at City Square,” said Allan.

The three roadheaders have been working from three different launch sites. The first was launched late last year from City Square and began tunnelling under Swanston Street for the main station cavern. The second roadheader launched under Federation Square and will create the passenger connection between Flinders Street station and Town Hall. The third roadheader excavated the connection between Flinders Quarter and the station.

Each machine weighs up to 118 tonnes and has been working 25 metres below ground level. The cutterheads can cut through rock three times harder than concrete.

Once the roadheaders have finished excavating the stations, the tunnel boring machines will create the twin tunnels between the future Town Hall and State Library stations. All four tunnel boring machines are currently making their way underground towards the CBD.

The project is on track to have trains running through the new tunnels by 2025.

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.

TBMs

TBMs all boring under Melbourne for Metro Tunnel

All four tunnel boring machines (TBMs) on the Melbourne Metro Tunnel project are in the ground, ensuring that the project is on track to be finished in 2025, a year ahead of schedule.

Premier Daniel Andrews said that having all TBMs working at the same time was a milestone for the project.

“We’re making significant progress on this landmark project – with all four tunnel boring machines in the ground.”

The news comes as other significant works are completed. At Parkville station, excavation of the station box at Grattan Street is complete and 50 steel columns are being installed at the under-construction State Library Station.

Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan thanked those who were working on the project.

“The team have worked around-the-clock to get the four tunnel boring machines underway, while observing social distancing and keeping workers safe.”

Andrews echoed that these works would have an economy-boosting impact.

“Big construction projects like the Metro Tunnel are more important than ever as we rebuild from the pandemic – kickstarting our economy and supporting thousands of jobs.”

Of the four TBMs, two are tunnelling from the Ardern site in North Melbourne towards Parkville. TBMs Meg and Joan, named after Australian cricketer Meg Lanning and Victoria’s first female Premier Joan Kirner, are completing the two parallel tunnels.

At the eastern portal TBM Millie and TBM Alice, named after Millie Peacock – Victoria’s first female member of Parliament – and Alice Appleford, wartime nurse, are excavating the twin tunnels from Anzac Station to South Yarra.

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.

New study to guide investment in Victorian containerised freight rail flows

A new study will look at ways to move freight more efficiently and reduce the number of trucks going into the Port of Melbourne.

Funded by the Victorian government, the Port of Melbourne Container Logistics Chain Study will be the first in a decade and carried out by the Port of Melbourne operator.

The study will look into the flow of containers into the port, trends, and changes since 2009.

With forecast growth of 900 million tonnes in freight in Victoria by 2051, the study will examine the impact and nature of growth in container volumes.

“With Victoria growing rapidly so it’s more vital than ever that we have the detailed information we need to plan for the future,” said Minister for Ports and Freight Melissa Horne.

The study’s findings will inform investment and policy decisions that will enable efficient freight movements via rail.

“The knowledge gained from this study will help us get more freight onto trains and off local roads,” said Horne.

After the previous study was conducted, investments were made in the intermodal freight precinct at Truganina, as well as the West Gate Tunnel.

The announcement of the study follows the extension of the Mode Shift Incentive Scheme (MSIS) and a $125 million commitment to on dock rail at the Port of Melbourne.

CEO of the Port of Melbourne Brendan Bourke said that the research would improve freight supply chains.

“We all need reliable information to support our organisations’ future directions, as well as our collective efforts to ensure our industry continues to underpin the state’s economy and competitive edge.

“We know from stakeholder feedback that the 2009 study has greatly assisted government and industry during the past decade in its business planning and investment decisions,” Bourke said.

Route 58

Tram route 58 gets track uplift

Tram route 58 is getting a major upgrade to improve services in Melbourne’s inner north, said Victorian Public Transport Minister Melissa Horne.

“We’re getting on with these works so we can give passengers better services and get them where they need to go.”

$3.7 million in funding is going towards the replacement of 1.2km of tram tracks, upgrades of overhead wires, and work on underground cables.

The work will begin on Friday, May 22, and continue until Monday, June 1.

While work is underway, buses will replace trams from Royal Park to the Bell Street and Melville Road terminus. Road closures in the area will also be implemented.

Route 58 runs from Pascoe Vale South via the Melbourne CBD and on to South Yarra and Toorak. Services from Royal Park to Toorak will continue while work is underway.

Horne said that the vital works will help the route cope with increased demand.

“Route 58 is one of our busiest tram routes and these upgrades will mean the system can cope with that demand.”

Measures are in place so that work crews and those in the surrounds do not come into contact and limit any chance of the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Physical distancing requirements are in place at all worksites.

The work on route 58, although previously scheduled, comes after Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced that tram revitalisation works would be part of the state’s Building Works program, to get Victorians back into jobs and the economy moving again.

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.

Two more tunnel boring machines in the ground under Melbourne

The construction of the Melbourne Metro Tunnel has reached another milestone, with all four tunnel boring machines (TBM) now in operation.

TBM Millie, named after Victoria’s first female MP, Millie Peacock, is excavating the 1.7km tunnel between Anzac Station and the eastern entrance to the Metro Tunnel at South Yarra, while TBM Alice, named after wartime medical hero Alice Appleford, will soon begin on the second under St Kilda Road in the next weeks.

The first two tunnel boring machines had reached Anzac station from the west and are now creating the twin tunnels from Arden Station to Parkville station. There, the excavation of the station box was completed earlier in April.

Other works currently progressing at excavations under Swanston and Flinders streets to create the Town Hall station central cavern. The tunnelling for the twin tunnels under the CBD at the new State Library station, will begin later in 2020.

During these construction works, and with the building of rail infrastructure deemed an essential service, extra safety precautions are in place, said Minister for Transport Infrastructure, Jacinta Allan.

“The Metro Tunnel team are doing an amazing job finding practical, safe ways of working, so we can continue building this urgently needed project in challenging circumstances.”

As states begin to lift coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, the continuation of infrastructure construction such as the Melbourne Metro Tunnel will be key for economic recovery, said Allan.

“Just as we’re facing an unprecedented health challenge, we’re facing an unprecedented economic challenge too. Our Big Build will be vital as we recover after the pandemic has passed.”

Drilling works continuing for Suburban Rail Loop

Early geotechnical works are continuing as part of the first stages of the Suburban Rail Loop.

Having begun in November 2019, during April a number of site investigations have taken place in Clayton, Burwood, Notting Hill, Mount Waverly, Highett, Cheltenham, and Glen Waverly.

The works so far include drilling to gain data and information about local ground conditions. This involves confirming an area is free of utility services, geotechnical drilling and testing, and installing a groundwater monitoring well for samples and measurement of groundwater levels.

Investigations have been focused in the south east of Melbourne, as the first stage of the loop will run from Cheltenham to Box Hill. Clayton will serve as a new transport super hub while new stations will be built in Burwood and Monash.

In March this year, a number of investigations were also carried out in areas from Box Hill to Highett. The project aims to have 100 boreholes drilled by mid-2020.

Once complete, the Suburban Rail Loop will connect each metropolitan train line in Melbourne and travel around the city from Cheltenham to Werribee via Melbourne Airport.

Initial construction works are expected to commence in 2022. When operational, the Suburban Rail Loop will run as a separate rail line, using dedicated rollingstock and separate systems. The same ticketing system will serve both networks, however.