Caulfield to Dandenong project

The Caulfield to Dandenong elevated rail project is a level crossing removal project between Caulfield and Dandenong, two suburbs in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Overseen by the Level Crossing Removal Authority of Victoria, the $1.6bn project includes the removal of nine level crossings, which would be eventually replaced by elevated rail, and the construction of five new stations.

The level crossings to be removed under the project are currently used by the Cranbourne Pakenham train line, Melbourne’s busiest rail line, which is crossed by some of the most congested roads in the locality. Boom gates at these crossing are down for up to 82 minutes during peak morning hours, leading to traffic congestion.

Removing the level crossing and developing elevated rail will not only reduce congestion but improve safety and create a reliable train service in the region.

Works on the project are scheduled to commence in July 2016 and will be completed by 2018. It is estimated it will create more than 2,000 jobs in the region.

Details of the level crossing removal project

The project includes the removal of every level crossing between Caulfield and Dandenong and the development of five new stations at Carnegie, Murrumbeena, Hughesdale, Clayton, and Noble Park. It also includes the upgrade of signalling and power systems along the corridor from Melbourne central business district (CBD) to Cranbourne and Pakenham.

Constructing an elevated line over the existing line will cause less inconvenience to the passengers and drivers as regular rail operations will not be disrupted. Most of the work is planned to be completed while the trains and roads run normally.

A total of 65 new high-capacity metro trains have been ordered to run on the newly created elevated line, creating an additional space for 11,000 passengers on the line.

Design details of the elevated rail project

The Victorian Government released proposed urban designs for the elevated rail project in February 2016. The design proposed the removal of nine level crossings and developing three sections of elevated rail.

The new elevated structure is designed with a built-in derailment barrier, which helps the trains to stay in place preventing them from leaving the structure. In case of unlikely events of derailment, the train’s wheels will be caught between the tracks and the concrete derailment barrier halts the train.

As the elevated rail structures lift the rail line above the ground they will create an open space below by connecting the land previously separated by the tracks.

"Between Caulfield and Dandenong, 225,000m² of open space can be created that can be used as parks, plazas, community facilities, playgrounds, car parking, shared cycling, and pedestrian paths."

Between Caulfield and Dandenong, 225,000m² of open space can be created that can be used as parks, plazas, community facilities, playgrounds, car parking, shared cycling, and pedestrian paths.

The urban design focuses on creating high-quality, safe and well-maintained public spaces, while delivering the project’s transport objectives. It aims to provide easier connections for pedestrians, cyclists, public transport and road users, improve safety by eliminating the interface between road and rail, encourage community gathering by providing common spaces, and increase development opportunities in the localities.

The elevated rail is designed to allow more natural light, air and rainwater to reach ground that helps to sustain vegetation along the line. The design also incorporates considered design measures to achieve noise reduction throughout the corridor and surrounding area.

Construction details of the elevated rail

Multiple methods will be adopted during the construction of the elevated rail. Advanced gantry cranes will be deployed at narrow rail corridors, while regular cranes will be used for normal corridors. The gantry cranes will feed an automated carrier, which will drive along the existing elevated structure laying sections of deck onto the support piers. This kind of construction method, which will cause the least possible interruption to regular train operation, is being used for the first time in Victoria.

One of the sections of the elevated rail in Clayton and Noble Park will be constructed using a traditional crane method. Super T beams will be lifted into place using large cranes.

The elevated rail also reduces the number of trucks on the road during construction resulting in an estimated 75,000 lesser truck movements compared to other solutions suggested for the project.

By August 2016, two 230t-gantry cranes, 40m-wide and 150m-long, will be used near Murrumbeena station to install 2,500 locally-manufactured segments of the new elevated rail.

Once operations commence on the newly elevated rail, the tracks on the ground will be removed, following which construction of all the ground level works such as parks, car parking, plazas, and pedestrian paths will be commenced.

Contractors involved

The preliminary noise report for the project was compiled by Parsons Brinckerhoff, a multi-national engineering and design firm.

The contract for removal of the congested level crossing has been awarded to a consortium of firms including Lendlease, CPB Contractors, WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff, Aurecon and Metro Trains Melbourne in April 2016.