By Brendan Rees
Works are ramping up on the Cranbourne line as a mammoth $1 billion upgrade gets underway, with buses to replace trains next month.
With 11 level crossings already removed on the Cranbourne line, major work is now underway to duplicate eight kilometres of track and remove the last four remaining level crossings between Cranbourne and Dandenong.
To allow crews to complete critical work on the Cranbourne Line Upgrade, a one-week rail closure will take place in September with buses to replace trains between Cranbourne and Dandenong Stations from 8.30pm Tuesday 8 September to last service Sunday 13 September.
The spring disruptions will also allow for piling and earthworks at Eumemmering Creek as well as critical power and signalling equipment installations along the line from Cranbourne through to Greens Road in Dandenong South.
Crews will relocate the Greens Road boom gates to prepare for construction of the new rail bridge to accommodate the duplicated track.
Works have begun at Merinda Park Station which will be completely rebuilt to accommodate the new, duplicated track as parts of the old station are removed. This will be staged to keep the station as operational as possible during construction.
The upgrade will take the Cranbourne line one step closer to being Melbourne’s first crossing-free corridor.
Once complete, trains will be able run every 10 minutes on the Cranbourne Line – and the capacity for 121,000 extra peak passengers every week across the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines.
The duplication of the Cranbourne line is due for completion by 2023 and will pave the way for planning for a future extension of the line to Clyde.
In the coming weeks work will also ramp up at the Abbotts Road level crossing removal site – the first step in creating support columns for a 400-metre rail bridge to take the second, duplicated track.
Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta said some disruptions will have less impact than usual as Victorians stay home to slow the spread of coronavirus.
“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,” she said.