In an Australian rail industry first, a 60m wheeled straddle carrier is being used at Murrumbeena as part of the Caulfield to Dandenong project, which will remove nine of Victoria’s most dangerous and congested level crossings.
Preparation for the go-live has been rigorous, involving 4D computer simulation modelling along with stringent tests on the ground and in the air.
The super-sized machinery, longer than an olympic swimming pool, is critical to removing dangerous and congested level crossings in an area too narrow for regular cranes.
With space at a premium, engineers looked to leading technology around the globe to find a solution that would allow the new rail line to be built from above, rather than from the side.
The result is a high-tech system custom designed to lift, shift and sets down spans while trains continue to run on the Cranbourne- Pakenham line.
Minister for Public Transport, Jacinta Allan, said, “We’re using cutting-edge, Australian-first technology to build this massive project with the least possible disruption to drivers, passengers and the local community.”
With a natural likeness to the popular ‘transformers’ toys, the distinctive blue carrier is likely to attract a steady stream of sightseers to Murrumbeena as operations continue over coming months.
While all nine level crossings between Caulfield and Dandenong are being removed, it is the four closest to the city that have posed the greatest challenge for engineers.
As such, a unique construction method was devised specially for the 3.2km rail bridge that will take trains over the top of Grange, Koornang, Murrumbeena and Poath roads, used by 54,000 vehicles each day.
Over coming months, the carrier will continue shifting and installing spans to extend the brand new rail out towards Carnegie (south west along the line) and then to Hughesdale in the other direction.
The nine level crossings between Dandenong and the city on the Cranbourne-Pakenham line are some of Melbourne’s worst, with boom gates down for up to 82 minutes in the morning peak.
The Victorian Government’s Caulfield to Dandenong project will remove every one of these crossings, build five new stations and create 11 MCGs’ worth of new parks, paths and public open space.
The massive project has created 2,000 jobs, with 4.7 million work hours already complete. It has also provided skills and opportunities for 200 apprentices, and created 200 jobs manufacturing concrete segments in Pakenham.
The Victorian Government has removed ten of 50 dangerous level crossings across Melbourne with work underway on a further 15.
Premier, Daniel Andrews, said, “These crossings clog local streets, put lives at risk and stop us running more trains on Melbourne’s busiest rail corridor – we said we’d get rid of them and we’re getting on with it.”
All nine level crossings between Caulfield and Dandenong are set to be removed by the end of 2018.