Sunbury Line

Level crossing removal added to Sunbury Line upgrade

The Gap Road level crossing removal will be completed as part of works to upgrade the Sunbury Line, bringing forward the road-under-rail project by two years.

The Gap Road level crossing is the fourth crossing to be removed on the Sunbury Line, and completion is scheduled for 2022. Final works will be completed in 2023.

The road-under-rail design will allow 19,000 vehicles to pass underneath the rail line unimpeded each day while retaining the heritage character of Sunbury Station.

“This notorious level crossing has been leaving Sunbury residents stranded in traffic for far too long – these works will deliver better journeys across the local community,” said Victorian Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan.

Member for Sunbury Josh Bull said combining the level crossing removal with upgrades along the line would be a better outcome for all.

“We’re delivering both of these important transport projects together to reduce disruption to our community and community and get better outcomes for rail passengers, road users and residents faster.”

The $2.1 billion upgrade to the Sunbury line will allow for greater passenger growth with increased urban development along the corridor. In addition, the line will form part of the Melbourne Metro Tunnel and enabling works such as platform extensions, train stabling, and power upgrades, will pave the way for more frequent, higher capacity trains.

Accessibility upgrades are also part of the project, along with new shared paths for pedestrians and cyclists. At Sunbury, the number of car parks will increase.

Allan said the Sunbury Line upgrades were one of a number of projects that would contribute to growing Victoria’s economy.

“Our Big Build program is vital to Victoria’s rebuild – supporting thousands of jobs and building the projects we need.”

Duplication

Frankston line extension business case recommends against electrification

The preliminary business case for the extension of the Frankston Line to Baxter on the Mornington Peninsula has been released.

The business case assesses a number of options for improving public transport usage in Frankston and the wider peninsula, while increasing social and commercial activity in Frankston.

The option of creating passing loops on the Stony Point line and new stations at Tyabb and Bittern is indicated as the preferred option. The possibility of electrification to Baxter or Langwarrin, while having higher a higher cost benefit ratio, would cost more and have greater impacts, the business case sets out.

Currently, Melbourne’s electrified network terminates at Frankston, with diesel-hauled services continuing to Stony Point. The report notes that the infrequency of services on the Stony Point line means that car use in the area is high and public transport use is concentrated at Frankston Station, causing constraints on parking in the vicinity of the station.

An upgrade of the rail line without electrification under the Stony Point Uplift option would also provide additional rail services for the communities of Somerville and Hastings, who would miss out on the benefits of electrification to Baxter.

The federal government, which contributed $3 million to the business case, is pushing for the electrification of the Frankston Line to Baxter and has committed $225m to the project. The business case estimates the total cost of electrification to Baxter to be between $1.3 to $1.5bn.

“Delivering a metro rail line extension south of Frankston will help open up the whole of the Mornington Peninsula, meaning locals can get to work and get home sooner and safer,” said Federal Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Alan Tudge.

The Victorian government has not confirmed a preference for any of the options outlined in the preliminary business case.

“The Commonwealth has indicated that their preferred next stage is a detailed business case, but has not yet provided the funding or approached Victoria to undertake that work,” said a Victorian government spokesperson.

“We’ll continue to work closely with the Commonwealth on our combined infrastructure commitments.”

The Committee for Greater Frankston, a grouping of local businesses and the Frankston city council, criticised the business case as “Orwellian”.

“It’s time for the state government to start properly planning to construct this vital public transport project,” said CEO Ginevra Hosking.

Public transport connectivity to Frankston is listed as a priority initiative by Infrastructure Australia, with initiatives for improvement including optimising the existing bus network, increasing bus frequency and coverage, or funding upgrades to rail services and infrastructure.

The Victorian government spokesperson said that the state government was already making significant investments.

“The Victorian government is already spending $3bnon projects along the Frankston Line that pave the way for an extension to Baxter – removing 18 level crossings, building 12 new stations and creating new stabling for 24 trains at Kananook that is a pre-requisite for any extension of the line.”

Narrabri to North Star

Contract awarded for Narrabri to North Star construction

The Trans4m Rail joint venture has been announced as the successful contractor for the construction of Inland Rail between Narrabri and North Star.

The $693 million contract covers phase one of the Narrabri to North Star leg, which includes upgrading 171km of existing track. A contract for phase two, including 15km of track upgrade and 2.3km of new track, will be awarded separately.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the project would be built by local businesses.

“Inland Rail is going to change the freight task in Australia and in doing so will create opportunity in regional Australia with unprecedented investment and job creation,” he said.

“This nationally significant infrastructure is being built by the skills and expertise of Australian businesses – businesses that invest locally, drive regional employment and give back to communities along this 1,700km corridor of commerce.”

Trans4m rail is a joint venture between John Holland and SEE Civil. Lendlease and another joint venture RailFirst made up of Downer EDI and Seymour White had also been shortlisted for the contract.

Local member for Parkes Mark Coulton said the winning tenderer would invest locally.

“Trans4m Rail has made a commitment to employ local people, engage local businesses and suppliers and work with communities in North West NSW to ensure the benefits of Inland Rail are felt throughout the community.”

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said that the project would enable more freight to be handled by rail.

“The upgrade of another 171km of track is another important piece in the puzzle to delivering better and quicker freight access to our primary producers in regional Australia, helping them get their product to markets in Australia and overseas with more ease.”

Coulton said that this region was already seeing greater investment.

“This project is about more than just steel tracks – we’re already seeing opportunities for industry to invest in the region through the Northern NSW Inland Port at Narrabri and the Moree Special Activation Precinct – leveraging the advantages of Inland Rail to provide long-term employment and scope for future growth.”

Maintenance works to begin on north west Victorian regional network

November will see a maintenance blitz on the Bendigo, Swan Hill, and Echuca lines to enable more reliable services to north west Victoria.

The $4m works will include track and signalling maintenance across all three lines, as well as safety upgrades at level crossings on the Swan Hill line.

Victorian Minister for Public Transport Ben Carroll said that works had been aligned with upgrades to the Sunbury Line and Metro Tunnel works to reduce disruption.

“We’ve done months of planning to make sure we get as much done as possible while minimising the disruption for passengers,” he said.

“The safety of the community is our number one priority, which is why we’re working to upgrade level crossings and road intersections across the state.”

Near Kerang, train detection technology will be upgraded and boom barriers added to crossings at Murray, Victoria, Vaughan, and Wellington streets.

On the Bendigo line, ballast and drainage will be improved, culvert maintenance will be carried out in Clarkefield and the track and road surface will be renewed at the Ravenswood Street level crossing.

More than 8,000 sleepers will be replaced on the Echuca line, while the signalling system at the Murray Valley Highway crossing will be adjusted to allow for new traffic signals nearby.

Maintenance on the tracks between Castlemaine and Maldon will be carried out by Victorian Goldfields Railway, to support heritage services on that section of line.

Rail milling works will be conducted between Kyneton and Gisbourne. These improvements are funded by $1m from the Victorian government’s Building Works stimulus package.

Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan said the works would improve rail travel in north west Victoria.

“These rail lines are a vital link for many Northern Victorians – we’re getting on with these upgrades to make sure passengers continue to have safe, comfortable and efficient journeys around our state well into the future.”

Works will begin on Friday, November 6 and continue until Saturday, November 21. Trains will be replaced by coach services.

Ballarat Line Upgrade

Final testing and commissioning on Ballarat Line Upgrade confirmed

The final phase of testing and commissioning for the Ballarat Line Upgrade will be carried out during late December 2020 and January 2021.

The jointly funded project is in its final stages after construction was completed in 2019, said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack.

“We’re excited to see the Ballarat Line Upgrade at this final stage, preparing the line for those much-needed extra services and better reliability for passengers in these growing communities,” said McCormack.

“It’s been more than three years in the making and nearly 1.6 million hours of work by dedicated crews, and we’re now on the home stretch to delivering huge benefits for passengers.”

Once critical safety testing is completed and drivers are trained for the new elements of the line, passengers will be able to take advantage of further increases to services between Ballarat and Melbourne, said Victorian Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan.

“We’re thrilled passengers will soon see the full benefits of the Ballarat Line Upgrade, but first we must complete this crucial final step on the project, as we integrate new track, a new signalling system and other infrastructure onto the existing rail line,” said Allan.

“It’s one of the most critical tasks undertaken on the project to date and it’s taken time to get the right resources in place to deliver this final piece of the project.”

While construction was largely finished in 2019, the new signalling system, which will allow more trains to run more frequently, was the last element of the project to be bedded in.

“Our rail experts have continued complex and extensive signalling design and planning work throughout the year in preparation for the commissioning, and passengers will soon enjoy the benefits of this hard work,” said Allan.

While buses replace trains, 500 metres of track duplication between Bacchus Marsh and Maddingley and at two level crossings in Ballan will be installed.

Once services return to the line, the new second platforms at Ballan, Bacchus Marsh, and Wendouree will open. The new station at Cobblebank has already opened and other stations have benefited from upgrades.

Already, two extra peak weekday services have been running between Melton and Southern Cross Station. Once complete, trains will run every 40 minutes in the off peak.

Preliminary design contract awarded for southern NSW sections of Inland Rail

The contract to carry out reference design and accompanying primary approvals documentation on two sections of the Inland Rail project has been awarded.

WSP Australia will carry out the work on the Albury to Illabo and Stockinbingal to Parkes sections, said project director Melvyn Maylin.

“A range of investigations will be delivered under the new contract, including ecological and geotechnical surveying, as well as scrutiny of impacts to cultural heritage, noise, air quality and utilities,” he said.

“This is an important step in progressing these two enhancement projects in southern New South Wales.”

The two sections have been combined together due to their similarities, reducing time and cost.

“The benefits of combining the two Inland Rail projects into the same service provider package is that both sections are enhancement projects in existing rail corridors, rather than new construction,” said Maylin.

“By nature, they are similar types of work and this approach will lead to cost effective and efficient project delivery.”

Work on the two sections with a combined length of 358km largely involves upgrading the current rail line to enable double stacked freight trains to run on the future route. Specific works will include increasing vertical clearances around bridges and new crossing loops.

The 37km section of new track from Illabo to Stockinbingal is still in the reference design stage.

The two sections have been identified as needing to progress by the NSW government, which handles planning approvals.

“The Albury to Illabo section has been classified State Significant Infrastructure by the NSW Government, and is currently in the process of an Environmental Impact Statement approvals pathway,” said Maylin.

“As for the Stockinbingal to Parkes project, the environmental assessment will be through four Review of Environmental Factors (REFs).”

The tenders for the first packages of construction work will follow reference design and planning approvals. This is expected in late 2021.

Level Crossing Removal Project

Level Crossing Removal Project reaches 43 crossings gone milestone

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.

Midland Station

Works for Morley-Ellenbrook Line begin as Midland Station design released

Works to prepare for the rail corridor in the Tonkin Highway median have begun, while new designs for Midland Station are released.

The current works include the construction of two underpasses with dive structures to enable the line to enter and exit the highway, as well as travel underneath the Reid Highway and Tonkin Highway interchange.

A road and bus bridge will also be built at Broun Avenue, including a bus interchange station, to enable access to the Morley Station.

The Tonkin Gap project is one of a number of major infrastructure projects in Western Australia that have been accelerated to encourage the economy to recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The works follow the signing of the contract for the construction of the Morley-Ellenbrook line.

“We now have workers on the ground starting the vital enabling works for the train to travel down Tonkin Highway to Ellenbrook,” said WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti.

“These works will create thousands of local jobs and opportunities for local businesses.”

The rail enabling works are expected to be complete in late 2022 and the full Tonkin Gap project in late 2023.

Updated concept designs for Midland Station
Revised concept station designs have been released for the new Midland Station, also part of the WA Metronet program.

The new station will involve decommissioning the existing Midland Station and building a new station closer to commercial and health facilities and better integrated with the surrounding community.

The project also involves the removal of the Helena Street level crossing and a new crossing at Cale Street for more efficient traffic movements.

The alliance contract for the station works is expected to be awarded in mid-2021.

Saffioti said the project would link with the new railcar manufacturing site.

“The new station will also link to Metronet’s Bellevue Depot, making it the first landmark our brand new C-Series trains will pass through on their way to regular service on the network.”

The station will also service the nearby Midland TAFE, where a purpose-built training facility for rail courses was recently finished.

December opening date set for Flinders Line extension

Teams are closing in on the completion date for the new Flinders Line in Adelaide.

An extension of the existing Tonsley Line, the re-named line will connect the Adelaide train network to the Flinders health and education precinct when it opens in early December.

Once open, the new line will increase services along the line, with an added 12,000 trips to the new timetable and weekend services from December 26. Tonsley Line services previously only ran Monday-Friday.

South Australian Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Corey Wingard said the project will enable more people to use public transport.

“This extension of the railway line to Flinders health and education precincts will create new connections for not only the residents who live in the area, but all those who work or study at the university and hospitals,” said Wingard.

Services on the current line will be suspended for two weeks from the last service on Friday, November 20, to allow for testing and driver training before the extension opens.

“The closure is critical to ensure the new track is tested and our train drivers are familiar with the line before it opens,” said Wingard.

Local federal member Nicolle Flint said the new line would be a catalyst for further development in Adelaide’s southern suburbs.

“The extended train line will help local residents get to and from the city, and also help people get to Flinders Medical Centre and Flinders University safely and easily without the pressure of finding a car park,” Flint said.

“The Flinders Link rail line will also help the University unlock investment for their $1.5 billion Flinders Village redevelopment, as well as linking their main campus at Bedford Park to the new Tonsley Innovation Precinct.”

The joint federal-state funded $141 million extension project has involved an elevated track over Sturt Road, Laffers Triangle and Main South Road, two new stations at Flinders and Tonsley, and a shared pedestrian/cycle path adjacent to the rail line.

Tonsley station will replace Clovelly Park station, which will be closed.

Cardinia

Cardinia Road level crossing to be gone before the end of 2020

The road bridge over the railway line at Cardinia Road in Pakenham will be gone before the end of the year, months ahead of schedule.

While safety measures have been in place for the Level Crossing Removal Project, the bridge has rapidly been put into place and will open in December following a final works blitz for two weeks.

Originally scheduled to open in 2021, around the clock work programs have led to the final works including laying asphalt, line-marking, and signage installation, to be finalised in 2020.

Victorian Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan said the project was about moving people around the community more efficiently.

“We promised to ease congestion and make the Pakenham community safer by removing level crossings – and we’re doing that well ahead of schedule, getting people where they need to go sooner by road and on the train.”

Along with the removed level crossing, new pedestrian and shared paths will open sooner, creating connections between the nearby train station and local amenities.

Cardinia Road will be the 44th level crossing removed as part of the Victorian government’s plan to remove 75 crossing by 2025. The boom gates are currently down for a third of the morning peak and 23,000 vehicles travel through the crossing each day. A new bridge will improve safety while reducing congestion and improving travel times.

Work on a new community space will begin in early 2021. Located underneath the road bridge, the space will provide an area for residents to meet, exercise, and relax.

Elsewhere on the Level Crossing Removal project, the Seaford Road level crossing project is leading to improvements to the nearby traffic network, with work on the Armstrongs Road and Railway Parade intersection beginning.

Signalising the intersection will improve safety for users and accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists.

The new signals will be connected to the level crossing to manage vehicle movements to and from Railway Parade. The pedestrian crossing will be similarly clarified.

The works come in addition to the removal of the Seaford Road level crossing in 2018.

At the Glen Huntly site, community feedback is being sought on the design of the future interchange.