AUSTRALIA: Upgrading and capacity enhancement works on the Melbourne – Ballarat line in Victoria are to be completed by late 2019, under a A$551·7m contract announced on January 16.

Funded by the state and federal governments, as part of the A$1·6bn Regional Rail Revival initiative, the project is being managed by the Melbourne Metro Rail Authority on behalf of the state.

The work is to be undertaken by a consortium of Lendlease Engineering, Acciona Geotech subsidiary Coleman Rail and SMEC Australia, which had been selected as preferred bidder in July 2017. Since then the contractors have been working with MMRA, regional passenger operator V/Line and other stakeholders to develop the detailed construction plans.

The upgrading project will see double-tracking of an 18 km section of the Ballarat Line from the junction with the Regional Rail Link at Deer Park West to Melton, paving the way for future electrification to permit the extension of Melbourne suburban services. Rockbank station is to be rebuilt, while a new station is to be built at Toolern, between Rockbank and Melton.

Further west, another 3 km of double-tracking is planned between Bacchus Marsh and Rowsley, along with a 4·5 km dynamic passing loop at Ballan. Additional platforms will be built at Bacchus Marsh, Ballan and Wendouree, while new stabling facilities are to be established at Maddingley to replace those at Bacchus Marsh.

A deviation at Millbrook with another 4 km dynamic loop will allow the closure a circuitous section of the existing line and the loop at Bungaree, enabling the removal of five level crossings. The upgrade will enable V/Line to run additional regional passenger trains at peak periods and provide a 40 min interval service off-peak.

Geotechnical works and utility diversions have been underway since October, and the main works are expected to start in the next few weeks.

‘We are looking forward to working closely with MMRA and V/Line to deliver this important project’, said Acciona Geotech Managing Director Bede Noonan. ‘Coleman Rail has developed workforce programs specifically to support the delivery phase of the project, creating new skilled jobs. We look forward to partnering with local suppliers and contractors to provide opportunities for them to become involved in the delivery of this project.’

  • Coleman Rail and Lendlease Engineering have also been selected by Victoria’s Level Crossing Removal Authority for the A$588m Southern Programme to eliminate crossings on the Frankston line in the Carrum and Seaford districts of southeast Melbourne, along with the construction of a new train stabling facility at Kananook.