A credit to the round the clock work of 1,700 Victorian workers, that trains were able to be put back on the Frankston line a week earlier than scheduled, and the new Mentone station opened 2 weeks ahead of schedule – all part of our Victorian Government’s major construction blitz to remove three dangerous and congested level crossings and build two new stations.
The team of more than 1,700 workers poured 15,000 cubic metres of concrete, installed almost 7000 tonnes of steel reinforcing, and laid 25,000 tonnes of ballast.
During the two-month construction blitz, more than 200,000 cubic metres of soil was excavated from the 2.1 kilometres of rail trenches which lower the Frankston line under Park and Charman roads in Cheltenham, and Balcombe Road in Mentone.
Strict safety measures have been implemented through the pandemic, supporting local jobs and businesses and working while roads and the public transport network have been quieter with Victorians staying at home.
Cheltenham Station is on schedule to open mid-August, with finishing touches on the stations, landscaping and the 3.5-kilometre walking and cycling path between Cheltenham and Mentone to continue on a schedule modified as required to comply with Chief Health Officer directions.
Victoria’s Big Build sites have already had their workforce numbers significantly reduced to support the safety protocols put in place by the Chief Health Officer. The Major Transport Infrastructure Authority is continuing to look at ways to further reduce the number of staff while allowing essential works to continue safely.
Locals have already seen an improvement in local traffic with the three roads reopening without boomgates in mid-June. Previously, the boomgates at Cheltenham and Mentone could be down for up to 49 minutes of the morning peak – causing delays and frustration for the 38,000 vehicles that cross the tracks each day.
I am so pleased that the new modern stations are five-star Green Star design rated and include solar panels, water saving and rainwater collection, and will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Further along the Frankston line, works are ramping up on the removal of five more level crossings and three new stations at Edithvale, Chelsea, and Bonbeach with major works to lower the rail line into a trench starting next year.
Works at Cheltenham and Mentone are part of the Victorian Government’s massive $3 billion investment on the Frankston line, which includes removing 18 level crossings and building 12 new stations.
The Cheltenham and Mentone project means a total of 38 dangerous and congested level crossings are gone for good – more than halfway to the Government’s commitment of 75 crossings removed by 2025.