While there are obvious benefits to level crossing removals, such as reduced road congestion, Victoria is also seeing significant benefits in employment and training opportunities.
More than 25 million hours have so far been worked across the level crossing removal program – which includes the Mernda Rail Extension – by a huge cohort of engineers, rail workers, tradespeople, crane operators, drivers and technical specialists across multiple sites.
With Victoria’s population now at five million, and a swathe of major infrastructure projects in the pipeline, training and development for workers is more important than ever to expand the overall talent pool available for future construction projects.
Of the 50 level crossings slated for removal, 26 have already been removed since the current program got underway in 2015.
That includes the Caulfield to Dandenong project, a ‘mega-project’ in its own right, which has racked up ten million of those work hours.
Between February to June 2018, the project removed nine level crossings, all located between Caulfield and Dandenong in Melbourne’s south east. This cluster of crossings saw some of Melbourne’s worst suburban traffic bottlenecks concentrated in a relatively small geographic area.
In addition to on-the-job hours, Caulfield to Dandenong (CTD) workers completed nearly 50,000 hours of training in total.
The high priority given to training is reflected by the establishment of a dedicated centre at CTD’s Clayton headquarters, set up in 2016 in partnership with Chisholm Institute of TAFE, the largest training provider in Melbourne’s booming south east.
More than 7,500 modules of training have been delivered to date for not only entry level workers but more experienced employees looking to upskill and branch out.
With a huge amount of work yet to come on the project, which is delivering 22.5 hectares of open space and significant power and signalling upgrades, the training centre is far from winding down.
Across the board, too, up-and-coming workers continue to play in the state’s biggest infrastructure projects.
Under the Victorian Government’s Major Projects Skills Guarantee, at least ten per cent of work hours being completed by newer workers including apprentices, trainees and cadets.