29 August 2017
In an Australian engineering first, a 60-metre wheeled straddle carrier has come into action at Murrumbeena, installing its first piece of elevated rail.
The super-sized machinery, longer than an Olympic swimming pool, is critical to removing dangerous and congested level crossings in an area too narrow for regular cranes.
While all nine level crossings between Caulfield and Dandenong are being removed, it is the four closest to the city that have posed the greatest challenge for engineers.
As such, a unique construction method was devised specially for the 3.2-kilometre rail bridge that will take trains over the top of Grange, Koornang, Murrumbeena and Poath roads, used by 54,000 vehicles each day.
Over coming months, the carrier will continue shifting and installing spans to extend the brand new rail out towards Carnegie (south west along the line) and then to Hughesdale in the other direction.
Preparation for the go-live has been rigorous, involving 4D computer simulation modelling along with stringent tests on the ground and in the air.
This is the first time a straddle carrier has been used in Australia specifically in a rail environment.
With space at a premium, engineers looked to leading technology around the globe to find a solution that would allow the new rail line to be built from above, rather than from the side.
The result is a high-tech system custom designed to lift, shift and sets down spans while trains continue to run on the Cranbourne Pakenham line.
With a natural likeness to the popular ‘transformers’ toys, the distinctive blue carrier is likely to attract a steady stream of sightseers to Murrumbeena as operations continue over coming months.
All nine level crossings between Caulfield and Dandenong are set to be removed by the end of 2018.