Boom gates removed from Reservoir crossing in Melbourne

The Level Crossing Removal Project in Victoria is inching forward with news that two boom gates have been removed from the Reservoir level crossing in Melbourne.

The Reservoir crossing, which the Victorian Government has called “dangerous and congested” still has four boom gates left to be removed, which will continue to operate normally until their removal is scheduled.

The two gates that were removed located to the north of the High Street intersection will make space for the development of piers to support the construction of a raised rail bridge running over the former level crossing.

Building crews have been working on the foundations of the Reservoir rail bridge since the beginning of April, drilling concrete piles up to 28 metres underground to accommodate the new elevated crossing above the line at High Street.

A new station will also be constructed at Reservoir as part of the project, with completion set for 2020. Over 36,000 vehicles a day travel through the crossing, with the boom gates down for an average 24 minutes during a peak two-hour period in the mornings.

The Level Crossing Removal Project is an ongoing state government infrastructure program involving the removal of 75 dangerous level crossings across Melbourne. Earlier this month, the Victorian Government announced eight more level crossings to get the chop on the Upfield and Mernda lines.

Labor reveals state budget ‘transport blitz’ for Victoria

The Victorian Government has unveiled plans to commit record funding for road and rail projects across the state in what it has referred to by Premier Daniel Andrews as a “blitz” for suburban transport.

“From fixing a pothole at the end of your street to the biggest transport projects in Victoria’s history – this Budget will get you where you need to go,” Andrews said.

The plans constitute part of the Victorian Budget for 201920, incorporating a $27.4 billion pipeline of works.

This includes $15.8 billion for the creation of the North East Link; $6.6 billion to remove 25 more level crossings (of a total 75) as part of the ongoing level crossing removal project; and $3.4 billion to deliver upgrades to the Sunbury, Cranbourne and Hurstbridge lines.

In all, the Sunbury line will receive a $2.1 billion boost, Cranbourne $750 million, and Hurstbridge $547 million.

Sunbury will also receive new high-capacity trains that will boost passenger capacity by 113,000 people.

The first of the 65 high-capacity trains previously announced in 2016 as part of the Labor Government’s High Capacity Metro Trains Project, is set to start on the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines this year.

Cranbourne will benefit from line duplications (doubling capacity during peak hours) and Hurstbridge will receive station upgrades at Greensborough and Montmorency.

The government has also set aside $615 million for regional public transport deliveries, including $340 million to purchase up to 18 new three-car V/Line VLocity trains, which the government said would bring good news for manufacturing and supply jobs in Dandenong, which hosts the assembly plant where the trains are built.

$111 million on training, recruitment and upskilling of train drivers in preparation for the new trains and services.

Three new stations will also be built at Goornong, Raywood and Huntly in the Bendigo area for a combined cost of $49.6 million and $150 million will be provided to fund new car parks at some of the busier stations in Melbourne and regional Victoria through the Car Parks for Commuters Fund

Following on from promises made before the state election in March, Labor will build 11,000 new spaces at stations across the state, bumping the current total number of spaces by 20 per cent to 66,000 stations in order to help relieve pressure along the lines.

An incentive scheme designed to reduce truck numbers on local roads by shifting more freight to rail will also be extended with an $8 million investment. Minister for Public Transport, Ports and Freight Melissa Horne said, “We promised to get trucks off local streets and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

Outside of rail projects, the Andrews Labor Government will also put aside $608 million for road upgrades (including $425 million on regional roads) and $45.4 million for the development of bike and pedestrian paths, including new bike paths on St Kilda Road.

$205.1 million will be spent on increasing train and bus services generally, with the latter to be rolled out in Melbourne growth areas such as the north and south-east of the city.

“These projects should have been built years ago,” said Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan. “We can’t change that, but we can keep our promises and keep delivering the projects Victorians voted for and need – and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

The Labor Government has spent $46.7 billion on state transport in the last four years, including its ongoing work on expensive projects such as the aforementioned level crossing removals and the $11 billion Metro Tunnel development, an underground rail line connecting the Sunbury line in the northwest to the Pakenham and Cranbourne lines in the south east.

Western Rail Plan gets $100m Budget boost

The Victorian Government’s 20192020 Budget includes a $100 million boost to the Western Rail Plan.

The investment is intended to fund planning and design works to separate the regional and metro services on the Geelong and Ballarat lines as part of a wider plan to deliver fast rail to the regions. This separation will avoid situations where V/Line trains are slowed down by Metro trains, allowing for faster and more frequent journeys.

Rail Projects Victoria (RPV) has started a program of investigations and technical studies along the Melton, Werribee, Wyndham Vale and Geelong corridors, with staging of the Western Rail Plan being considered alongside the Melbourne Airport Rail Link business case, due for publication in 2020.

Committee for Ballarat chair Nick Beale welcomed the investment in a statement, saying the works were “in line with Committee’s stated aim of duplicating the line between Ballarat and Southern Cross, which includes electrification and quadruplication of the line to Melton. Once the work is complete, it will result in a noticeably faster trip to Melbourne.”

The Western Rail Plan sets out investment plans for three connected rail projects, including the creation of two new metro lines leading west to Melton and Wyndham Vale; increased rail capacity between Melbourne’s CBD and Sunshine; and upgrades on the Geelong and Ballarat lines to allow trains to run faster than 160km/h.

The creation of the metro lines to Melton and Wyndham Vale will separate the two areas from the Ballarat and Geelong lines, with Wyndham Vale also proposed as the potential western section of the Suburban Rail Loop, which is expected to cost at least $50 billion, with a pencilled completion date of 2050.

Level crossings in Melbourne’s north to be removed with elevated rail

The Victorian Government has laid out plans to deal with eight level crossing removals in Melbourne’s north as part of its ongoing Level Crossing Removal Project.

The crossings, which belong to the Upfield and Mernda lines, will be removed by elevating relevant sections of the lines.

“We said we’d get rid of them and now we’re getting on with the job of removing these dangerous crossings,” said Victoria’s Minister for Transport Infrastructure, Jacinta Allan.

“This is part of a huge investment in the inner north creating jobs and better connections for those living and working in these communities.”

The elevation is expected to deliver more open space for the public and improve connections for cyclists and pedestrians. Member for Pascoe Vale Lizzie Blandthorn commented that this would provide new precincts for the community.

“Our community will soon have an opportunity to provide their feedback about what they would like to see in the new open space,” she said.

Level crossings at Bell Street, Reynard Street and Munro Street in Coburg and Moreland Road in Brunswick (all Upfield line) will be removed at the same time by elevating the line.

The other four level crossings at Murray Road, Bell Street, Cramer Street and Oakover Road in Preston (all Mernda line) will be dealt with through the construction of a rail bridge.

The removal of the Coburg and Brunswick crossings is expected by 2020. The Preston removals are set to be completed in 2021 following the commencement of major works next year.

New stations will be built at Preston, Bell, Coburg and Moreland to accommodate the changes, while also preserving the existing heritage-listed Coburg and Moreland station buildings.

The works form part of the larger Level Crossing Removal Project, which plans to remove 75 “dangerous and congested” level crossings in Melbourne by 2025.

In addition to the works in the city’s north, the Victorian Government announced today that it would begin construction works within the next year to remove two crossings on the Packenham line by 2021.

The level crossings are located at Clyde Road in Berwick and Cardinia Road in Packenham, and will join the nine that have already been removed across the southeastern line.

The Clyde Road crossing in particular has been cited by the government as a source of delay for ambulances travelling to Casey Hospital, as well as a notable congestion point on the Princes and Monash freeways.