Crews closing in on new stations, track, roads from Cheltenham to Mentone

Crews are over halfway to completing the largest ever level crossing removal blitz in Victoria.

Since May 23, up to 1,700 people have worked to remove three level crossings and construct two new stations between Cheltenham and Mentone. On 24-hour shifts, the crews are over halfway through the 64 day construction blitz before trains return to the Frankston line on Monday, July 27.

The concerted work effort has required a phalanx of machinery and equipment, with 180 large pieces of plant and the largest mobile crane in Australia deployed to the project, coming in at 750 tonnes.

200,000 cubic metres of soil have been removed from the worksites, with 50 trucks carrying away the spoil every hour. Other materials required include over 6,800 tonnes of steel reinforcing and 15,000 cubic metres of concrete.

Work has begun on laying the 25,000 tonnes of ballast needed for the new rail tracks, as well as the start of signalling and overhead wire works. Concurrently, trench walls are being reinforced and stations buildings are platforms are in the process of being constructed.

As of late June, 480 tonnes of rail and over 20km of overhead wiring are still to be brought on site.

New stations are only a month away, with Mentone Station scheduled to open on Friday, August 3, and Cheltenham Station on Friday, August 17.

The intersection of Talbot Crescent and Toorak Road has been reopened. This intersection was closed to make way for the Toorak Road level crossing removal and was moved west of the rail bridge, aligned with a new pedestrian crossing across Toorak Road.

Landscaping is currently continuing, while play and exercise equipment is now open. Nearby traffic lights have been synchronised to allow pedestrians to cross safely and cyclists to cross without dismounting. The signals will also improve traffic flow.

Melbourne trains now using new rail bridge

Trains are travelling over the new rail bridge at Toorak Road for the first time as part of the Toorak Road level crossing removal.

On Monday morning, April 13, Victoria’s 35th level crossing was officially removed, six months ahead of schedule.

For the past nine days, crews have worked around the clock to remove the boom gates, lay new tracks, install wiring and signalling, and connect the new rail bridge to the Glen Waverley Line.

The new rail bridge was largely constructed with 40 locally manufactured L-beams forming the bridge, each up to 31 metres long and weighing up to 128 tonnes. 

Prior to its removal, Toorak Road was one of Victoria’s most congested level crossings. 

 The major removal is part of Victoria’s Big Build program, and works continue to deliver the Labor Government’s $70 billion infrastructure program.

The Metro Tunnel Project’s first two Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs), Joan and Meg, have both broken through at South Kensington.

The remaining two TBMs, Alice and Millie, are being assembled at Anzac Station, with preparations underway for both machines to be launched in the coming weeks.

The Regional Rail Revival program is also on track. Workers have upgraded four level crossings on the Warrnambool line as part of the $114 million Warrnambool Line Upgrade. 

Premier Daniel Andrews said 35 dangerous and congested level crossings have been removed and the government is now almost halfway to delivering its promise of removing 75 level crossings by 2025.

“Work looks a little different on our big build – with extra physical distancing precautions in place due to coronavirus, so we can protect our workers and protect their jobs,” Andrews said.

Strict protocols are in place on all Major Transport Infrastructure Authority worksites to protect the health and safety of construction workers and the community, and are consistent with the advice from the Chief Health Officer.

Construction activities have been modified to allow social distancing and extra protection for workers who need to work in proximity for short periods of time, as well as enhanced industrial cleaning and additional hygiene measures in place.

Jacinta Allan, minister for transport infrastructure said more vital works will continue across the city and state, with additional measures to keep workers safe and to get these projects done.

Final work begins to remove Toorak Road level crossing

The Toorak Road level crossing will be removed before the end of April, with a nine-day works blitz about to kick off.

The Toorak Road level crossing in Kooyong will be the 35th crossing to be removed in the Level Crossing Removal Project and having the rail line run over the major arterial road will reduce traffic congestion and improve safety on the rail corridor.

The final works to be completed include removing the boom gates on Toorak Road, installing new tracks, ballast, overhead wiring, complete signalling works and the connection of the rail bridge to the Glen Waverly Line.

To ensure that the works can continue while social distancing and other COVID-19 measures are in place, extra protocols have been introduced to the worksite. These have been negotiated between the government, unions, and contractors to ensure that the 15,000 staff working on transport infrastructure in Victoria can continue to progress projects, said Minister for Transport Infrastructure, Jacinta Allan.

“The important works will go ahead with extra precautions to keep workers safe as we continue to fight coronavirus, ensuring these critical works can be completed quickly and providing job security for workers on major projects.”

While these works are conducted, motorists will be rerouted around the construction zone, and buses will replace trains between Burnley and East Malvern.

Once complete, further finishing works will be complete in 2021, including planting 23,000 trees, plants, and grasses.

Toorak level crossing removed ahead of schedule

The Level Crossings Removal Project estimates that the Toorak Road level crossing will be removed six months ahead of schedule.

A revised completion date of April will see the new rail bridge operational, with cars travelling underneath.

Work currently being completed includes the installation of 18 concrete columns to support the new rail bridge. During February and March, U-troughs will be installed which will form the rail bridge. 20 of the structures will be installed along with retaining walls in Tooronga Park and Talbot Crescent.

While works and being undertaken, the rail line will be closed during the next months. These will be scheduled during off-peak periods.

In early 2021, 23,000 trees, plants, and grasses will be plated to finish the project.

Other projects currently underway as part of the Level Crossings Removal Project include site investigations for upgrades to the Hurstbridge Line. Surveys and investigations have occurred in Greensborough, Montmorency, and Diamond Creek.

As part of the Level Crossings Removal Project, the Victorian government plans to duplicate the rail line between Greensborough and Montmorency, and between Diamond Creek and Wattle Glen. Work will also be undertaken at Greensborough and Montmorency stations.

Train stabling at Victoria Park will also be upgraded and power and signalling will be improved along parts of the Hurstbridge Line. Submissions on changes to the Planning Scheme Amendment which will enable the project are now open.