The Caulfield to Dandenong level crossing removal project has reached the end of a crucial phase of construction, with large-scale specialist machinery dismantled and a final section elevated rail deck complete.

An intensive logistical exercise contributed to this achievement, involving the first ever Australian use of a straddle carrier and gantry crane configuration in a live rail corridor.

The specialist equipment was used on one specific section of elevated rail that will remove four crossings at Carnegie, Murrumbeena and Hughesdale.

Since February 2017, thousands of hours have gone into the process of building, lifting and shifting a total of 174 bridge spans, each ranging from 280 to 420 tonnes.

Meanwhile the giant carrier has travelled more than 260km back and forth along the rail line.

Alliance Construction Director, Simon Barnes, said “This project leaves an important legacy not only to the community but to industry.”

“We have taken a construction technique usually associated with long viaducts built through open terrain, and successfully – and safely – applied that an Australian residential environment.

“Adapting and evolving that technique to a local suburban environment has led us to form relationships with engineering experts around the world.”

The new skills, processes and protocols associated with a national first have meant an extensive amount of behind the scenes activity. It’s also necessitated an extensive training program.

“We’ve trained around 300 workers to operate the carrier, gantry cranes and support beams as well as cast and tension the spans that make up the rail deck,” Mr Barnes said.

“It’s not insignificant from an industry perspective as we will retain this knowledge in Australia along with a whole range of highly transferable skills.”

The Caulfield to Dandenong Level Crossing Removal Project is being delivered by an Alliance consisting of Lendlease, CPB Contractors, WSP, Aurecon, LXRA and Metro Trains Melbourne (MTM).

As a consortium, this group is working to remove nine level crossings on the Cranbourne/Pakenham line in Melbourne’s south east, constructing a raised rail line set to create 22.5 hectares of new public open space.

Elevated rail is largely a new way of removing level crossings in Melbourne and the project has attracted its share of controversy.

However, now with the design concept a close to being realised, the project has garnered increasing support from the wider community.

“We are really looking forward to the community fully experiencing and appreciating our vision.

“Once the land is opened up, people will be able to walk freely around and under the elevated line – that will be a game-changer for suburbs that have been divided for as long as anyone can remember.” 

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