The Gippsland line, a rail line connecting the Gippsland region to Greater Melbourne in Australia, is being upgraded to deliver more train services for passengers.
The A$448m ($340.1m) upgrade project is expected to be completed in 2022. It is a part of the A$4bn ($3.14bn) Regional Rail Revival programme, which involves upgrading all the regional passenger railway lines in the state of Victoria.
The rail line upgrade provided more than 500 local jobs for eastern Victoria. The project will also boost the local economy and create opportunities for the local contractors and suppliers. Rail Projects Victoria, a government agency involved in the management of major infrastructure projects on the Victorian rail network, will set up a local project office in the Latrobe Valley.
Gippsland line upgrade details
The Gippsland line upgrade project involves the duplication of track between Bunyip and Longwarry, extension of the Morwell crossing loop, and delivering upgrades to level crossings and signalling infrastructure. It also adds second platforms at Bunyip, Longwarry, and Morwell, and reactivates the second platform at Traralgon.
A solar-powered wireless level crossing detection technology will be trialled for the first time in Victoria at Farrells Lane in Stratford, as part of the Gippsland line upgrade. The project delivered the new Avon River Bridge built in Stratford, to provide fast and reliable services along the Gippsland rail line.
The redesigned second platform at Morwell station is expected to improve connectivity with the bus interchange.
The Apex Park, located on the banks of the Avon River, will be improved through upgrades such as a new bicycle motocross (BMX) and pump track, community artwork, and a new playground.
Early works on the project included site investigations, procurement, design and engineering. Construction of the Avon River bridge started in 2019 and completed in December 2020.
Level crossing upgrades between Sale and Bairnsdale were completed in 2018. Construction of temporary access tracks for the preparation of the start of major construction took place during spring 2019. The project also includes upgrades to drainage structures at Morwell River. Construction on corridor works of the rail project began in 2020.
Work related to the new Avon River rail bridge includes the construction of embankments for the foundation of the new track connecting the new bridge and the existing line on either side of the river.
Benefits of Gippsland line upgrade
The project will provide safety through upgrades to level crossings and facilitate the movement of VLocity trains to and from Bairnsdale. Construction of additional platforms at the three stations involves improvements to accessibility and station amenities to make rail travel more comfortable for passengers.
Work on the section between Pakenham and Traralgon will result in a 40-minute train service between the peaks while enhancing reliability.
Train detection upgrades at level crossings along the Gippsland rail line are expected to improve safety for motorists and rail passengers. The new bridge over the Avon River increased the speed of trains travelling on the structure to 90km/h, compared to 10km/h on the old bridge.
Key players involved
VicConnect, a consortium of Decmil, Arup and UGL, was awarded a A$300m ($232.72m) contract to undertake the rail upgrades between Pakenham and Traralgon in March 2021. The contract award followed the selection of VicConnect as the preferred contractor in December 2020.