The Cranbourne railway line, owned by the Victorian Government via state-owned enterprise VicTrack and operated by public transport company Metro Trains Melbourne, is undergoing a major upgrade.
The upgrade project includes track duplication to increase the frequency of services and support a future rail extension to Clyde in Melbourne.
Estimated to involve an investment of A$1bn ($694.64m), the project is expected to create 1,000 jobs. The Cranbourne line will be the first to be free from level crossings under a wider project across Melbourne to remove 75 level crossings by 2025.
The rail line upgrade will ensure the availability of trains every ten minutes on the Cranbourne line. Major works on the track duplication of the upgrade project started in July 2020 following planning and procurement activities in 2019. The upgrade programme is expected to be completed by 2025.
Cranbourne Line upgrade details
The Cranbourne railway line upgrade includes the duplication of 8km of track between Cranbourne and Dandenong stations.
The project will also remove the last four level crossings between Cranbourne and the City, including Webster Street in Dandenong, Evans Road in Lyndhurst, Greens Road in Dandenong South and Camms Road in Cranbourne.
A new Merinda Park station is planned to be constructed with dual platforms. The project site for the new station has been prepared for removal of sections of the old station platform. The existing single track on the Cranbourne-Dandenong route restricts the number of services on the rail line and the project will address this problem.
The rail upgrade will create the capacity for 121,000 additional passengers during peak hours each week on the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines.
Removal of boom gates and alarms from the level crossing at Evans Road, Lyndhurst was completed in December 2019. Works included the relocation of underground services and removal of the road surface south of the rail line to facilitate the construction of a new road bridge structure over the rail line.
Construction of the road bridge and removal of the level crossing are expected to be completed by the end of 2020.
The bridge will reconnect Lyndhurst, Lynbrook and Cranbourne West for the first time since 2005 when the road was closed over safety concerns, while also making it easier for commuters to travel between Lynbrook stations and Merinda Park. Seven giant bridge beams were installed at Evans Road in June 2020.
Re-opening of Evans Road will reduce the time taken to cross the rail to reach the South Gippsland Highway by four times. The removal of 11 level crossings was also completed as part of the Cranbourne line upgrade.
The level crossing at Greens Road in Dandenong South is expected to be removed by 2023, while the duplication is slated for completion by 2023. Works at Greens Road will include raising the rail line over the road to create a 600m-long, 8m-high dual rail bridge. The level crossings at Webster Street and Camms Road are expected to be removed by 2025.
Designs for the new Merinda Park Station include two lifts and two platforms for the accommodation of the duplicated tracks.
Additionally, a new pedestrian underpass equipped with lifts, ramps and stairs will be created at the station to provide access to the platforms and waiting areas. A dedicated drop-off and taxi zone was relocated closer to the station entrance for improved accessibility.
Financing for the rail line upgrade project
The Cranbourne Line upgrade project received financing commitment worth A$750m ($429.31m) from the Victorian Government in the 2019-2020 budget to support the track duplication.
The state government also agreed to provide a further A$7m ($4m) in funding for planning activities related to the extension to Clyde.
Contractors involved in Cranbourne Line upgrade
The alliance of McConnell Dowell, Arup, Mott MacDonald and Metro Trains Melbourne will work with the Level Crossing Removal Project, a Government of Victoria programme, for the duplication of track between Dandenong and Lynbrook and removal of the Greens Road level crossing in Dandenong South.
The track duplication between Lynbrook and Cranbourne is handled by an alliance of Laing O’Rourke, Jacobs and Metro Trains Melbourne. The alliance will also deliver the new Merinda Park station and implement the expansion of the car park at Lynbrook Station with an additional 135 spaces.