Two stations on Melbourne’s Upfield Line have reopened to passengers after the state’s largest ever level crossing removal project. 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.
Over half of the 75 level crossings planned for removal by 2025 in Melbourne have been taken out.
The 38th crossing was removed as part of works on the Frankston line in August. The most recent crossing to go were at Charman and Park roads in Cheltenham and Balcombe Road in Mentone.
The next level crossings to be removed and get the project closer to the 75 target will be on the Upfield line, as work there progresses and the current blitz finishes in November. Crossings at Bell Street, Munro Street, Reynard Street, and Moreland Road will be removed.
While removing the crossings has been a key goal of the project, there have been many other associated benefits for commuters and the local community. So far, 20 stations have been renewed through upgrades, and three stations have been added as part of the Mernda Rail Extension.
Safety has also been a key goal. At the planned for removal level crossings, 30 people have lost their lives and there have been 800 near misses since 2005.
Travel times are already seeing improvements, with time spent in traffic cut by half in some areas where level crossings have been removed.
Finally, new open spaces and pedestrian and cycling connections have been created, with the newly elevated rail lines sometimes serving to protect and shade new play areas underneath. The newly created open space is equivalent to 14 MCGs and the length of the new walking and cycling paths stretches over 45 kilometres. In Cheltenham, the former station building has been repurposed as a community facility in Cheltenham Park. The heritage listed station building will be a multi-purpose facility in plans put forward by the Bayside City Council.
While COVID-19 restrictions have been in place at all construction sites, the Level Crossing Removal Project has continued throughout the pandemic, keeping 5,000 workers in jobs and on site. Since construction began in 2015, 44 million hours have been worked across the project.
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.
A new crossover will be installed near Anstey Station on the Upfield line, and then be moved to north of the new Coburg Station.
Construction has begun today on the 24/7 project to remove four level crossings on the Upfield line in little more than three months.
To minimise disruptions for commuters south of the project site, the crossover will enable trains to keep running. The crossover will first be installed near Anstey Station, to allow services to continue between the stop in Brunswick and the city while level crossing removal work is underway.
This new infrastructure will enable 60 per cent of commuters on the Upfield line to continue to catch trains.
The turnback will allow trains to terminate at Anstey Station and then return to the city circle.
While the turnback is installed buses will replace trains on the entire length of the Upfield line. Buses will continue to replace trains for passengers travelling north of Anstey. Passengers are advised to change at Brunswick.
Once the construction blitz on the Upfield line is complete, the turnback will be removed and replaced with a permanent crossover north of the new Coburg Station to allow greater flexibility for trains on the line in the future.
The construction blitz will remove four level crossings by late 2020, with new stations at Coburg and Moreland to open after that. Crossings at Bell Street, Munro Street, Reynard Street, and Moreland Road will be removed.
As part of the work on the Upfield line, two custom-built 90-tonne gantry cranes are being used in an industry first. The cranes will move up to 14 bridge beams a day, enabling the project to be completed faster.
Local manufacturers have been producing the concrete elements of the rail bridge, including 268 L-beams for the 2.5km rail bridge. The project also requires 53 crossheads and 49 precast piers sourced from local suppliers.
The final details have been completed at the renovated Reservoir Station and have included a focus on sustainability.
Reservoir station is the first in Victoria to have remote metering of energy and water use and features a rainwater tank to limit its draw on utility networks. Additionally, construction materials incorporated recycled glass sand in concrete, as part of a trial with the University of Melbourne and Sustainability Victoria.
The new station, which was renovated as part of the High Street level crossing removal, reopened in December 2019, and crews have now finished the civic plaza and station precinct with landscaping works involving 300 trees and 60,000 shrubs and grasses.
High Street was the 31st crossing to go as part of the Level Crossing Removal Project, and the one kilometre rail bridge has supported the safe operation of trains on the Mernda line.
36,000 vehicles per day are now able to pass underneath the rail line, without having to wait for six boom gates to lift, which were down for up to 24 minutes in the two hour morning peak.
Upgrades to pedestrian and cycle links to the nearby suburbs were also completed as part of the project and the amenity of the station area improved.
Designs for Coburg and Moreland finalised
The updated station designs for Coburg and Moreland have been completed, with input from the community received.
Feedback on accessibility and separated walking and cycling paths was garnered from the community, and this has been reflect in the final design. Flexible community spaces for small events will also be part of the new stations, along with a nature-based Moreland playground design.
Coburg and Moreland stations are being upgraded as part of level crossing removals on the Upfield Line. Crossings at Moreland Road, and Reynard, Munroe, and Bell streets will e removed.
The Victorian Government is fast-tracking the removal of the Cardinia Road level crossing on the Pakenham line as part of its Level Crossing Removal Project.
The Cardinia Road crossing — one of 17 to be removed from the Pakenham line and 75 in Melbourne overall — impacts over 23,000 vehicles a day according to the state government.
The government has fast tracked the construction of a road bridge to pass over the train line starting later this year, with the removal of the boom gates to follow in 2021. The Cardinia Road level crossing’s boom gates are down for up to 30 per cent of the morning peak, according to a release from the Victorian Government.
The announcement follows the news that eight level crossings from the Upfield and Merda lines in Melbourne’s north would also be dealt with by elevating the lines, creating new open spaces and connections for cyclists and pedestrians.
The Level Crossing Removal Project joined other government bodies such as the West Gate Tunnel, North East Link Project, Rail Projects Victoria and Major Road Projects Victoria as part of the Major Transport Infrastructure Authority established as an office of the Department of Transport in January.
The removals represent Victoria’s largest rail infrastructure project to date. The project is also intended to create over 27 new or upgraded stations by its completion in 2025.