Balcombe Road in Mentone runs from the Nepean Highway to Beach Road, cutting through a busy residential and vibrant retail area. It’s the main thoroughfare to a number of local independent schools, recreation areas and the state heritage-listed Mentone Station.

The level crossing at Balcombe Road, Mentone is located between Swanston Street and Como Parade. The boom gates are down for an average of 49 minutes during the weekday peak between 7:00am and 9:00am, significantly impacting travel times for thousands of motorists and causing frustration for all road users.

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We will be lowering the rail line into a trench at Balcombe Road, Mentone and rebuilding the road at its current road level. We will also build a new Mentone Station.

The decision to proceed with a rail trench design solution was based on what we heard from you, the local community, along with environmental considerations and findings from our technical investigations.

Balcombe Road, Como Parade East and Como Parade West aerial designs

Benefits and opportunities

  • A brand new Mentone Station with improved lighting, visibility and accessibility, including lifts to the lowered platforms.
  • The heritage-listed station buildings will be retained or reinstated.
  • We will look at building walking/cycling paths along the rail line and pedestrian overpasses across the trench to keep the community connected and allow easy access to the retail centre and nearby schools.
  • There may be new opportunities for retail and residential development within the station area.

View the video and transcript for Mentone rail under road. 

Now that we have a design solution, there are a number of key aspects that need to be considered further. As we move into the next phase of planning work, we will focus on:

  • Ways to maximise connectivity opportunities with pedestrian overpasses and walking/ cycling paths.
  • Working with the community to refine the design details of the rail trench, station (including heritage station buildings and trees) and new public spaces.
  • Refining design requirements for rail barriers, pedestrian overpasses and the new carpark.
  • Managing road, rail and utility service relocations during construction.
  • Ways to manage the overland water and groundwater that exists within 5 metres of the surface, during and after construction.
  • The removal of the level crossing at Balcombe Road will transform Mentone. We want to continue working with you to ensure that this project protects and enhances what you value about your local area.

Heritage-listed station and gardens

We know that the historic station and gardens at Mentone Station are important to local
residents and are a key feature of the area.

Keeping the main station building on the city-bound platform in its current position has been a key focus of the design development. We plan for this building to be retained in its current
position and repurposed as part of the new station design. In order to achieve this, we will need to move the railway lines away from the building and shift the platforms further south.

Moving the railway lines away from the main station building will mean that the building on the Frankston-bound platform will need to be relocated during construction and repurposed as part of the final works.

Throughout 2017, we will continue the conversation with the community about the most appropriate uses for both of these important historical buildings.

While the five heritage-listed trees within the station gardens will be retained, the rest of the gardens will be impacted because of the width of the retaining walls and the need to locate underground power and signalling services immediately next to the trench. However, there is some opportunity, albeit limited, for replanting.

Latrobe Street

Last year we consulted on the option to close Latrobe Street level crossing because of its relatively low traffic volumes and close proximity to the other level crossings being removed at Charman, Park and Balcombe Roads. However, over half of the community feedback that we collected in September – October 2016 showed a preference to keep the street open. We have decided not to close Latrobe Street at this stage.

For more information on the design solution, please see our latest Community Update.

Project updates

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We will keep you informed about the project and its progress via website updates, social media, regular email bulletins and letterbox drops, local newspaper advertising, onsite information boards and community information displays.

FAQs

Top 5 FAQs

  1. Will there be more or less parking at Cheltenham and Mentone stations once the works are complete?
  2. Why is there a need for the third track through the station at Cheltenham?
  3. What will happen to the historic station buildings at Cheltenham and Mentone Stations?
  4. Why isn't the Warrigal Road Level Crossing being removed?
  5. What are the construction time frames for Cheltenham and Mentone?

Timeline

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2015 Benefits assessment. Options are evaluated against the Victorian Government's Level Crossing Removal Project benefits – will it improve safety, reduce congestion and improve connectivity?
Early 2016 Initial investigations and identifying potential design options. You told us what is important to you about your area.
Mid-2016 Developing design options. Your feedback from early 2016 and our investigations helped us refine the design options.
Late 2016 Detailed technical investigations. We undertook detailed investigations at this stage and presented a rail trench under Balcombe Road and a rail bridge over the road as the two options under consideration.
Early 2017 Design solution. We are now asking you to share your local knowledge to refine the
details of the design solution.
Mid to late 2017 Tender process to choose a company to build the project. We will keep you updated throughout this process.
2018 Construction starts to remove the level crossing. We will be asking for your feedback on specific design elements and will be keeping you informed about construction disruptions.

Community

We would like to thank everyone who participated in our consultation process and provided feedback on the design options under consideration in late 2016.

Your feedback has played an important role in helping us develop the design solution. Our community consultation period revealed the following feedback themes:

  • Overall, there is a preference in the community for a rail trench solution for Mentone. Many residents and traders regard the key benefits as:
    • reduced / less visual impact,
    • reduced / less noise,
    • maintaining the look / feel of the suburb, and
    • improvements to traffic flow.
  • When asked about the biggest priority moving forward, the top responses included
    • improving traffic flow and reducing congestion,
    • the need for the LXRA to listen to the local community,
    • visual impact/ overall look and design, and
    • safety.

What's next?

We are asking for your input on a range of elements including:

  • Station design, such as the integration of heritage-listed station buildings
  • Design opportunities
  • Public space opportunities, such as walking/cycling paths
  • Landscaping opportunities
  • Retail and residential development opportunities
  • Disruption planning.

Your feedback will be used to inform the next phases of detailed design and construction, including as we begin the process of appointing construction companies.

Submissions

Submissions for the Planning Scheme Amendment are now closed.

We will continue to talk to the community as we refine the design and there will be more opportunities this year for you to have your say.

Technical work

We have undertaken a range of technical investigations in the Cheltenham and Mentone areas to fully understand how our design solution will benefit and impact the area. These investigations are vital in helping us find the best design solution for each site.

While detailed investigations commenced in 2016, investigations such as noise, traffic, geological (ground) and hydrogeological (ground water) on complex projects like these typically continue beyond selection of a design solution to further inform detailed design and construction. LXRA will provide regular insights into these studies and share final results once studies are complete.

For more detail on what's involved in the various technical investigations, please refer to our Technical Investigations Update – Mentone and fact sheets on the following areas:

  • Rail noise
  • Visual assessment
  • Feature surveys
  • Overshadowing
  • Car park surveys
  • Traffic monitoring and modelling
  • Hydrology
  • Utility investigations
  • Hydrogeology
  • Geotechnical investigations
  • Cultural heritage – Indigenous and European
  • Property title survey
  • Flora and fauna
  • Air quality.

Works update

Geotechnical investigations

As part of our planning works, geotechnical investigations on the Frankston line started in August 2016 and have been continuing in select locations. Geotechnical investigations provide important information about the physical properties of the soil and rock and the water table.

What we are doing

A sample of soil will be taken using drill rigs, with cores samples being 100 millimetres in diameter (around the size of a DVD) and to a depth of up to 40 metres.

At each level crossing removal location, multiple soil samples are required, so drilling is taking place at a number of sites within each area. The position of drill holes is affected by factors such as safe access for workers and equipment, as well as the location of existing underground cables and pipes.

What to expect

The works require the use of a drilling rig and vehicles and there may be low level noise. Once tests are complete, drill holes are filled in and the drilling area returned to its original condition as far as possible.

Access to local businesses and residences is maintained at all times.

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