Issue #02

Project overview

The Victorian government is extending the South Morang train line to Mernda to cater for the significant population growth in Melbourne's north.

The rail extension will include:

  • Approximately eight kilometres of new dual rail line between South Morang Station and Mernda
  • Five grade separations, guaranteeing no level crossings will be created
  • A new premium station in Mernda, integrated into the proposed Mernda Town Centre
  • An additional station located near Marymede Catholic College
  • Potential additional station at Hawkstowe Parade. Bidders will be required to price this option
  • Car parking, bicycle storage and bus facilities at each station
  • Construction of new walking and cycling paths in areas to extend and link into existing paths and future networks such as the Yan Yean Trail
  • Construction of stabling facilities for three six-car train sets and an option for eight in future, north of Bridge Inn Road, Mernda.

What we've heard

The extensive feedback we've received from the community is largely based on the themes below:

Rail design

Land use and character of the local area to be retained, to maximise connectivity on either side of the railway line. Our current design shown below, maximises the opportunity for both the community and wildlife to cross the corridor safely, while also allowing for increased landscaping options around the area.

Hawkstowe station

Given the strong community support for a third station, bidders will be required to investigate and price the proposed station near Hawkstowe Parade as part of the tender process.

Station design

Ensure good access to each station, with security and attractive design in mind. The project design allows passive surveillance, and also encompasses CCTV systems around the station and carparks, with Protective Service Officers (PSOs) at each station in the evenings. The project is working with the Office of the Victorian Government Architect and the City of Whittlesea on urban design, landscaping and architecture so the stations blend in well and compliment their existing environments. The design meets all Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) requirements.

Car parking

Adequate parking facilities at each station is critical, and as such the current design allows up to 500 spaces for Marymede station, approximately 100 spaces for the potential station at Hawkstowe, and up to 1,000 spaces at the Mernda station. Additional links in the local walking and cycling path network encourages local residents to walk or ride to the stations, reducing pressure on carparks.

Traffic

We are working with VicRoads and the City of Whittlesea where transport interchanges are being constructed and will be designed with traffic efficiency in mind. We will also ensure the project design integrates with existing and future traffic conditions. Walking and cycling paths will be created with connections to existing path networks to encourage local residents to walk or ride to the new stations.

Public transport

Additional funding was allocated in the 2015/16 State Budget for bus upgrades and additional services. Route 381 has been operating between South Morang and Diamond Creek via Doreen, and later this year seven new extended or realigned bus services will be introduced to this area. Currently this route includes a morning and afternoon route extension to Diamond Valley College and St Helena Secondary College which caters for students travelling between South Morang and Doreen.

Cycling and pedestrian facilities

Access was a key point raised by the local community. As a result of hearing this, the project will construct walking and cycling path upgrades and linkages to the existing and future networks. In addition to this all constructed stations will include bicycle storage facilities. Rail over road crossings also enable maximum access for cyclists and pedestrians under the structure.

Vegetation and wildlife

To help preserve the character of the local surroundings, the project recognises that flora and fauna around the area must be retained as much as possible. The current design of the project provides for maximum preservation of local trees, and maximum landscaping options post construction, while also allowing wildlife to cross the corridor in a number of locations in comparison to other design options.

Safety

The current design ensures the safety of the community, commuters and wildlife remains priority, such as:

  • including fencing in areas to protect the community and local wildlife from trains
  • CCTV facilities at all constructed stations and car parks
  • Passive surveillance design of stations, to ensure maximum visibility
  • Lighting in areas to ensure high visibility of all parts of the station and car parks, but designed in mind to contain light only to the required areas.

Community Engagement

A big thanks to the more than 600 people who attended our community information sessions during February and March, visited our pop-up stall at the South Morang station and local shopping districts, and undertook one-on-one meetings with our project team.

The feedback collected at the sessions earlier this year and online has helped to inform the project designs.

Thanks for your Social Pinpoint feedback

Our online feedback tool, social pinpoint, received 789 comments with 3,506 individual visitors to the site. We've received a huge amount of valuable feedback, which has also been passed on to construction tenderers and the Government to inform decision-making about the project. Although the social pinpoint 
is now closed for comments,
 you are still able to view 
the comments made by the community on our social pinpoint page found on our website.

Design benefits

  • As the project is not creating level crossings, the trains will not be required to sound their horn when passing through intersections. This also means no warning bells heard from boom gates.
  • Less vegetation required to be cleared by project when compared to other design solutions.
  • Rail bridges over Hawkstowe Parade, The Parkway and Bridge Inn Road will provide minimal loss of pedestrian, cyclist and wildlife access, provide connectivity, minimise construction timeframes and construction impacts such as noise and vibration.
  • Wilton Vale Creek and Simon Creek impacts minimised when compared to other design solutions.
  • Pedestrian crossing at ground level on Bridge Inn Road to allow safe pedestrian crossing.
  • Design minimises the disruption of the future duplication of Bridge Inn Road.
  • Incorporating modern and innovative design elements will help to manage noise impacts. This includes resilient track fixings, continuous welded rail, for new tracks and noise screens.
  • This design will retain as many mature trees as possible, and trees are able to be planted closer to the railway tracks when compared to other design solutions.
  • Rail bridges means less material taken away from site, resulting in a significant reduction in the number of trucks on local roads, and quicker construction.

Project timeline

2015

  • Development of business case.
  • Site investigations.
  • Consultation to help determine station location between South Morang and Mernda, and potential station features.
  • Bus network planning.

Early 2016

  • Further site investigations.
  • Release of proposed design options.
  • Refer project to Commonwealth Department of Environment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
  • Issue the Expressions of Interest to design and construct the project.
  • Finalise urban design principles.

Early-mid 2016

  • Release of current design.
  • Seek formal feedback for proposed amendment to the Whittlesea Planning Scheme.
  • Refer project to the Minister for Planning under the Environmental Effects Act.
  • Issue tender documentation to tenderers.
  • Work with companies on their designs.
  • Provide an update on key project design considerations.
  • Address planning and environmental approval requirements.

Late 2016

  • Work with the preferred tenderer to review design in line with feedback received.
  • Award contract to construct project.

2017

  • Commence construction.

What happens next?

While the project has done significant work on the Mernda Rail design, we will also be engaging with the industry to finalise a more detailed design of the project. This means we will be seeking innovation from the private sector and using the current design as a base before agreeing on a final price and design. In the coming month, tenders will be issued for the Mernda Rail, so that private organisations can provide us with their ideas for the design. For example, there may be special construction techniques or design solutions that we have not considered.

Any changes would be considered in the light of the approvals we are seeking.

Once we have these back, we will review the various ideas, looking at where we can minimise impacts to the community, reflecting on our community consultation and finding the best solution and value for money.

The current design considers:

  • Community feedback
  • Environmental and geotechnical factors
  • Constructability constraints
  • Melbourne's strategic planning requirements, including public transport, housing and commercial precincts
  • Current and projected road-based traffic demand
  • Potential impacts on private properties and public open spaces
  • Relevant Australian and International design construction standards
  • Key stakeholder feedback including City of Whittlesea, VicRoads and the Office of the Victorian Government Architect.

Keeping up to date

We will continue to ensure local residents, businesses and other stakeholders are kept up to date with the project and its progress via website updates, regular bulletins and letterbox drops, local newspaper advertising, pop ups, workshops, onsite information boards and community information displays.

Signing up for email updates is a great way to stay up to date. You can register your details with us on our webpage to subscribe.

We are committed to ensuring that you only receive timely and relevant information.

For a printable version, please download the Mernda rail community update PDF, 5.2 MB.