Four dangerous and congested level crossings have been removed from Preston in Melbourne following a two week construction blitz.

Over the past two weeks, crews have worked around the clock to remove four sets of boom gates at Oakover Road, Bell Street, Cramer Street and Murray Road, connect the new elevated rail line with the existing ground-level tracks, and remove old rail tracks and overhead wires.

Trains will return to the Mernda line on a new route between Regent and Thornbury stations until September, running express through Bell and Preston stations.

Shuttle buses will connect passengers travelling to and from Bell and Preston stations during this time, as works on the new stations continues for the next three months.

In September, the second elevated rail track will be finished and new, modern stations at Bell and Preston will open to passengers. 

About 82,000 vehicles passed through these level crossings each day, and the boom gates were down for up to 40 per cent of the morning peak.

In 2023, work on landscaping and planting under the elevated rail line at Preston will continue. Almost 60,000 square metres of new open space will be created by the project.

The open space will include landscaped areas with more than 700 trees and around 150,000 grasses, shrubs and groundcover plants, as well as two new playgrounds and a shared walking and cycling path to connect the new Preston and Bell stations.

Victorian Minister for Public Transport, Ben Carroll, said, “With no boom gates to hold up journeys on Bell Street, commuting will be easier for so many Melburnians, whether you’re driving to the airport or your local school – it’s one of the busiest arterial roads in Melbourne.”

Member for Northcote, Kat Theophanous, said, “The boom gates are finally gone and we’re seeing cars travelling on our level-crossing free roads. Next, we’ll see the Bell Station precinct come to life and get on with creating new open spaces for the whole community.”

Member for Preston, Robin Scott, said, “I’d like to thank our local community for their patience while crews worked around the clock to remove these four dangerous and congested level crossings and get the Mernda line ready for passengers. I’m so proud to see the project benefits really come to life for the community in Preston.”

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