by Level Crossing Removal Project (LXRP)
The Level Crossing Removal Project (LXRP) is delivering a massive transport infrastructure overhaul as part of Victoria’s Big Build, that will transform transport across Melbourne and ease congestion.
Over the past seven years, on behalf of the Victorian Government, LXRP has removed 59 level crossings, built 34 new and upgraded stations, delivered 30km of bike paths, and created around 20 Melbourne Cricket Grounds (or MCGs, the unique Victorian unit of measurement) of open space for local communities across Melbourne to enjoy.
The project will remove 85 level crossings across Melbourne by 2025 and is well on track to meet this target. This range of works will make local roads safer; reduce traffic delays; improve connectivity between road, rail and bus services; allow more trains to run; and modernise train stations across the city.
What’s happening at webb street?
The level crossing at Webb Street, Narre Warren, in Melbourne’s south-east, will be removed and replaced with an elevated rail bridge, and a new premium station at Narre Warren will be built as part of the project.
Webb Street was one of the ten level crossings announced by the Victorian Government in 2021. We’ll remove these ten level crossings by 2025, while construction crews are already out on the ground nearby getting rid of other dangerous and congested level crossings.
This will reduce disruptions, maximise delivery efficiencies, create more jobs and mean more level crossings can go sooner. The early designs for the level crossing removal have recently been released, showing a concept of the elevated rail bridge that will be built to replace the level crossing.
The new state-of-the-art Narre Warren Station will have better facilities for passengers, including two new elevated platforms, which commuters will be able to access via lifts and stairs. The new platforms will also feature improved shelter, lighting and CCTV.
The station precinct will be safer and more accessible with modern facilities such as additional bus stops, shared use paths, Parkiteer bicycle cages and bicycle parking hoops, and landscaping.
Access within the Narre Warren precinct will also be improved, with a more integrated transport hub and improved public space.
Webb Street – a dangerous and congested level crossing
Webb Street is one of the most dangerous and congested level crossings on the Pakenham line, and since 2012 there have been at least 19 near-miss incidents recorded at the Webb Street level crossing.
Additionally, the boom gates can be down for up to 40 minutes of the morning peak when up to 25 trains pass through the crossing every day, causing delays for about 13,200 vehicles.
The Pakenham line
Webb Street is one of 22 level crossings being removed as part of a $15 billion investment to upgrade the Pakenham line. There are nine more to go by 2025 to make the Pakenham line level crossing free, with 13 sets of boom gates already consigned to history.
Around 90,000 people use the Pakenham/Cranbourne line each day, making it one of Melbourne’s busiest. Making the Pakenham line level crossing free will improve safety, reduce congestion and allow for more trains, more often. It will also deliver a more reliable road network, connections and travel times.
The upgrade of the Pakenham line also includes new highcapacity trains and the Metro Tunnel Project, which will create room for 120,000 more passengers on the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines during peak periods.
Why a rail bridge?
Following an evaluation of various design solutions, technical and engineering assessments determined the best outcome for the community is to build a new elevated rail bridge over the road.
Program Director, Tony Hedley, said this outcome would minimise disruption during construction, and ultimately deliver a more efficient and reliable transport network.
“A rail bridge over Webb Street will improve travel times for commuters travelling by road, and the design will optimise access to the station precinct,” Mr Hedley said.
Mr Hedley said the design also provides an opportunity to improve accessibility and integration on both sides of the rail corridor, creating better connected and more liveable communities.
“Once we remove the boom gates and bells, traffic and trains will be completely separated, reducing the safety risk and improving pedestrian access to the station.
“It’s a busy precinct, surrounded by shops and local community facilities. This project will make it easier and safer for people to move around the area,” Mr Hedley said.
The solution also allows more trees and vegetation to be retained and minimises impacts on underground utilities. Elevating the rail line will relieve congestion on Webb Street, making it safer and easier for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists to move around.
What are the challenges?
The Narre Warren area has a high water table, therefore drainage is an important part of the design. Expert hydrologists in the team will ensure flooding, drainage and run-off issues are considered.
“The area is known for flooding, and this is one of the reasons the rail bridge solution has been selected,” Mr Hedley said.
Minimising road and rail disruptions throughout construction, and the impact of those disruptions on local businesses and residents is another key challenge for the project team.
“The rail-over-road option will be constructed largely offline meaning construction will require considerably fewer temporary road and rail closures,” Mr Hedley said.
As with any major project, there will be disruption from time to time, and we’ll always communicate this to passengers and road users in advance.
The Pakenham line through Narre Warren caters for daily metropolitan passenger and regional trains, and freight train services.
“We are also working to minimize disruptions on the Pakenham Line as it is a busy line, with multiple projects working along it. Where possible we will coordinate disruptions with other projects,” Mr Hedley said.
The elevated rail bridge and new station final design is progressing, but further technical assessments and community input is still to be gathered to inform the final design.
Community engagement is an important part of the project, and the project invited the community to provide feedback on the vision and values for the area, as well as the early concept designs.
Site investigations are already underway, and later in 2022, project teams will work in and around the rail corridor with equipment like trucks and small drilling rigs to undertake further site investigations.
Final designs and further community engagement are expected later this year. Construction is scheduled to start in late 2022, with the level crossing removed by 2025.