Regional Rail Link newsletter
Welcome to this special edition of the Regional Rail Link newsletter
In this edition we give you an insight into how we deliver major works on the project through construction windows, known as ‘rail line closures’.
Many months of planning take place before we start work in the rail corridor to make sure works run smoothly and people can still get around while construction is underway.
Thank you for your understanding regarding bus replacement service as we build this new rail line and improve the public transport network.
Chief Executive Officer,
Regional Rail Link Authority
Regional Rail Link rail line closures – Why do we do it?
Using bus replacement services when we close the rail line allows Regional Rail Link to carry out the essential work required to advance construction on the project without compromising safety.
Work includes moving existing track and building new rail along with signalling work and the widening of the rail corridor.
Since major contracts were awarded on this landmark project in 2011, we’ve already seen an enormous amount of visible progress.
All you have to do is jump on a train heading west to see the seeds of a lot of planning and hard work growing across the corridor.
From time to time, you may have seen posters, letters, newspaper advertisements and more recently tweets informing you of an upcoming rail line closure necessary to facilitate Regional Rail Link construction.
So why does the rail line have to be closed?
It’s so that major, essential and time-critical work can be carried out safely when trains aren’t running.
Holiday periods like Easter and school holidays are often good construction windows, as they are usually quieter times on the rail network and provide less disruption to commuters.
Regional Rail Link is a complex infrastructure project and there are many challenges with constructing a new rail line, such as integrating a new signalling system into an existing ageing network, relocating underground services, and building new and reconstructing existing bridges and stations.
Fixed periods for rail line closures are preferred to several smaller disruptions as they allow for a greater amount of work to be done more efficiently. This means the project advances quicker and gives commuters the chance to better plan their journeys.
We’ve had some amazing feats of construction and engineering during each one of our rail line closures, and in this special edition, we’ll give you a brief pictorial history.
The very first closure
The first major rail line closure happened during school holidays in July 2011 and formed part of a program of significant and crucial preparatory work that allowed us to advance the project to the next stage.
We’re now over half way through the total program of 80 rail line closures that include six major rail line closures and 74 weekend closures.
December 2012 and January 2013 was a massive construction time for Regional Rail Link. We undertook a significant amount of work, including construction at Footscray, West Footscray, Tottenham and Sunshine railway stations, track realignment and installation, bridge works and extensive earthworks.
How we assist rail commuters
As well as working to our construction deadlines during a rail line closure, there’s also the huge task of co-ordinating operations with Metro and V/Line to provide safe and reliable travel alternatives for affected commuters.
Bus replacement services are always in abundance, with V/Line and Metro staff members on the ground to give commuters information about timetables, and guiding travellers to Myki readers and replacement bus stops.
During major rail closures, those passing through can often grab themselves a free breakfast of fruit, coffee and sausages!
While you’re on the bus this July
Regional Rail Link is carrying out a significant amount of work between Deer Park and Southern Cross Station during school holidays this July.
• significant road works to facilitate the removal of two level crossings on Anderson Road, Sunshine;
• major bridge works at Dudley Street, West Melbourne, and Hopkins and Nicholson Streets, Footscray;
• continued construction work at railway stations, including the installation of the bridge and concourse at the new West Footscray railway station, platform and footbridge works at Footscray railway station, and the installation of the station concourse and demolition work on platforms 1 and 2 at Sunshine railway station;
• track works between North Melbourne and Sunshine;
• retaining wall works in Footscray and Tottenham; and
• foundation, overhead, signalling and lighting works.
During the December and January closure, more than 250 buses transported over 17,000 passengers in each direction each weekday while the rail lines were closed.
Flemington Rotary Club also cooked over 200 kilos of free sausages and handed out over 4,000 pieces of free fruit to commuters.
Over 460 workers spent the Queen’s Birthday long weekend completing major track, bridge & signalling works.
There was also a significant amount of work carried out over the Anzac Day weekend that delivered complex improvements to Melbourne’s rail signalling system.
There’s still plenty of work to do to complete the Regional Rail Link project, and buses will continue to replace trains during rail line closures. Please stay tuned to the Regional Rail Link website for more details
Rail Line closures in pictures
· The 200 tonne Dudley Street rail bridge took 3 cranes to put in place and required Dudley Street to be temporarily closed in late December 2011
· Track work between Nicholson and Albert St Footscray. The many sections of concrete you can see are called sleepers, which hold the track together, and also help mitigate the noise between the wheel and rail interface once trains are running. We’ve delivered over 40,000 of these to date!
· The work doesn’t stop for Regional Rail Link once the sun goes down. During Easter 2012, the Footscray – Deer Park team worked day and night to undertake partial demolition, overhead structure and wiring works and track installation
· You often can’t see them, but the team at Rail Systems do some crucial work during our occupations. Here they are digging one of the many trenches needed for the installation of conduits and fibre optic cables for Regional Rail Link’s signalling system
· The team getting their hands (or machines) dirty with just a small section of the earthworks undertaken between Footscray and Sunshine in December 2012 and January 2013
· The big white machine you can see to the right is called a piling machine and it weighs in at around 70 tonnes with an ability to pile up to 22 metres deep. Here it is helping to construct one of two grade separations at Anderson Road, Sunshine
· Here’s a great view from Footscray railway station during Easter 2013 where you can see the hard work extending all the way to Nicholson Street and Albert Street (in the distance).
· The Southern Cross section took a significant step forward in April this year, with signal installation works being carried out
· Replacement buses are in large supply to take commuters where they need to go
· Thanks to Rotary, affected commuters receive a free hot breakfast and some fruit!