A $1bn upgrade to the Cranbourne Line is one of a number of upgrades to the Melbourne rail network to recently take a step forward.
Duplication of eight kilometres of track between Cranbourne and Dandenong is now underway, in addition to the 11 level crossings already removed.
The duplicated track will allow services ever 10 minutes, increasing capacity by 121,000 passengers in the peak across the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines.
Construction crews are working on power, signalling, and drainage upgrades at Merinda Park Station and in the rail corridor from Cranbourne to Greens Road.
Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan said that works will enable a first for the line.
“We’re getting on with the massive Cranbourne Line Upgrade, delivering more frequent services and removing its last four level crossings – making it Melbourne’s first level crossing-free train line.”
Level crossings still to go on the line include the Abbotts Road level crossing, where 25-metre foundations are being drilled into the ground, and the Merinda Park station will be renewed in August. At Evans Road the bridge will remove the level crossing before the end of 2020, restoring connections in Lyndhurst, Lynbrook and Cranbourne West.
Elsewhere on the Melbourne rail network, the federal government has committed $8 million in funding to remove the Glenferrie Road level crossing in Kooyong. The funding will allow the Victorian government to begin a business case, said federal Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Alan Tudge.
“This funding means we can start vital scoping and early development works for the level crossing removal.”
The $8m comes alongside $2m for initial feasibility studies for level crossing removals at Tooronga Road in Tooronga and Madden Grove in Burnley.
Glenferrie Road has been identified as a high priority level crossing in studies in 2013 by VicRoads and in 2017 by the Victorian Auditor General, in part due to the interaction of trains, trams, and vehicles.
In the west of the Melbourne rail network, two level crossings have been fast tracked to begin construction in early 2021. Level crossings at Fitzgerald Road in Ardeer and Deer Park’s Robinsons Road will be removed by 2023.
At Robinsons Road a road underpass will be built, and at Fitzgerald Road a road overpass will be built to minimise disruptions to train services and allow for upgrades to the Geelong-Ballarat train line.
Safety and congestion have been a concern at both level crossings, with 18 near misses since 2012 and boom gates down for 45 per cent of the morning peak.
With the two level crossings gone, the Mount Derrimut Road level crossing can be removed by 2025, the last between Deer Park and the city.
Victoria is now seeking community feedback on the design of the level crossings.
In Hallam, station designs have been released as part of the removal of Hallam Road level crossing, with a new elevated rail line with access from both sides of Hallam Road. Works is expected to begin at the end of 2020 with the crossing to be removed in 2022.
As some level crossing removal projects begin, others are closer to completion. At Mentone Station, the station will open two weeks ahead of schedule and Cheltenham station is on schedule to open on Sunday, August 16. Frankston line trains will begin running a week ahead of schedule, stopping at Mentone Station from Monday, July 20.
New facilitation at the station include a climate-controlled waiting area, sheltered seating, and electronic passenger information displays to enable smoother transitions between bus and train services. Accessibility and access has been improved and work will now begin on landscaping and active transit connections between Cheltenham and Mentone.
Cheltenham and Mentone stations have also received a five-star Green Star sustainable design rating from the Green Building Council of Australia. The award has recognised the installation of solar panels, water saving, and rainwater collection facilities.