Four Preston level crossings to go

Early works to remove four dangerous and congested level crossings, build two new stations and a two-kilometre stretch of elevated rail in Preston will start next year.

Around 82,000 vehicles go through the level crossings at Bell Street, Cramer Street, Murray Road and Oakover Road each day.

Bell Street is the busiest road with 52,000 vehicles each day and the boom gates down for up to 40 per cent of the morning peak.

Detailed planning and engineering have determined the best way to remove the crossing – given the constraints on this section of the Mernda line – is to elevate the line and use an innovative U-Trough design. 

New stations will be built at Bell and Preston, and a section of the track will be straightened to deliver more trains more often in the future.

While this will enable faster services, it will also mean a small number of property acquisitions. The project team is contacting owners and residents and will work closely with them throughout the process.

The Level Crossing Removal Project has used a voluntary purchase scheme on previous projects, and the same principles will be applied on the Preston project to identify any eligible homes.

The Mernda line provides access to the Epping train maintenance facility, which services about half of Melbourne’s train fleet, meaning the line can only be closed for a short period without impacting services across the network. As a result, the project will be delivered without any major extended closures of the Mernda line.

The next stage of community consultation will start soon, with locals encouraged to have their say on what they want to see in the new open space. In addition, a community advisory panel will be established to enable locals to directly contribute to the design of the two kilometres of new open space created by elevating the line.

The level crossings will be removed by the end of 2022 and the open space ready for locals to enjoy in 2023.