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Mernda construction update - December to February

27 Feb 2018

Mernda Rail construction update

Issue #05 February 2018

We have a big year ahead as construction of the Mernda Rail Extension continues. In this update we take a look at the next stage of work as we start to lay rail tracks along the corridor.

Snapshot: December to February

Over the past few months we have:

  • started construction of station and shared pedestrian underpass structures at Marymede
  • completed the first section of the track foundations in the stabling yard at Mernda
  • logged more than 1 million hours of labour on the project as of the end of January
  • started installing station canopy structures at Mernda and Hawkstowe stations
  • started installation of the rail signalling system
  • started the second stage of the excavation works and the bridge structure for the Plenty Road rail underpass
  • completed installing the concrete sections for the rail overpasses at Hawkstowe and Mernda stations.

For all updates on changes in your local area relating to the Mernda Rail Extension Project, please visit

Rail returns to Mernda

The Mernda Rail Extension Project is set to reach another milestone with the eagerly-awaited delivery of majorrail lengths to be used on the double track extension.

Nearly 60 years after the last train travelled north to Whittlesea, 34.5 kilometres of rail lengths will soon makethe final trip to South Morang on trains.

The rail lengths, measuring 27.5 metres each, are brought out from OneSteel’s manufacturing facility in Whyalla, South Australia and delivered by rail to the John Holland rail welding workshop in Spotswood.

When welded together, each rail track segment will measure 165 metres in length and weigh 10 tonnes.

These tracks are then loaded on to a train and will travel Melbourne’s rail network at night to South Morang.

Once delivered, a loader then hauls them off to a storage area before they are eventually put into place.

A new rail line is built in stages

Over the coming months, crews will build each element of the new rail line as follows:

  • foundations are prepared, followed by installation of the first layer of rocks known as “ballast”, sleepers, rail and a final layer of ballast
  • pipes to carry rail cables are installed underneath the rail line
  • rail “tamping” machines are used to pack the rock between tracks into place
  • signalling equipment to control trainmovements is installed
  • steel overhead structure poles are lifted into place
  • overhead wires are then run between each of the poles before being tightened
  • signalling cables are pulled through the buried pipes and connected to the signal system and tested
  • testing, driver training and safety checks take place before trains start running.

First signal and overhead wiring structures installed

We recently installed the first new upgraded rail signal between Epping and South Morang. The signal is one of 35 to be installed to safely guide train drivers along the new rail line to Mernda.

We also started trenching works for critical power and signalling for the new rail line. A new section of the overhead wiring aerial transmission line was installed between Epping and South Morang which will provide power for the trains on the new railway.

Under rail occupation, we will need to stop trains between Epping and South Morang on several evenings over the coming months so that we can complete this signalling and wiring work. Keep an eye on our website for updates.

New overhead wiring structures have been erected along the rail corridor to Marymede.

Quick Statistics

During construction of the Mernda Rail Extension, we will install:

  • 34.5km of rail
  • 230 overhead wiring structure
  • 169km of cables for the signalling system
  • 23,611 rail sleepers
  • 68,000 tonnes of ballast
  • 1,650 tonnes of rail

Railway History

1889Freight rail lines between Melbourne and Whittlesea opened to service
1929The line was electrified to Thomastown for suburban electric passenger trains
1958The railway beyond Epping closed
1959The railway beyond Lalor closed
1964The rail line between Lalor and Epping was electrified and reopened for suburban electric passenger trains
1970sThe rail infrastructure between Epping and Whittlesea was dismantled

Major works began to duplicate the 5km single track between Keon Park and Epping, and construct a new 3km track extension to South Morang

2012Passenger rail services began operating to South Morang
2017Construction of 8km double track rail extension to Mernda started

Upcoming works

Over the coming months we will:

  • rebuild the South Morang Station forecourt
  • continue works on the station buildings at the new Mernda, Hawkstowe and Marymede stations
  • continue construction of the final stage of the McDonalds Road rail underpass
  • install the longest pre-cast u-trough beams on the project across The Parkway and Simon Creek
  • continue works to install rail infrastructure, including laying of ballast and track and installing signalling cables, overhead structures and wiring
  • start sourcing and growing plants at specialist nurseries for planting in the project area.

Extension of project hours

Our move into peak construction activity means work hours on site may be extended in certain circumstances. Works may also start and finish earlier in the day if the weather is particularly hot, to provide a safe working environment for our crews. We will give advance notice of any temporary changes to work hours and thank you for your patience as we continue to build the Mernda Rail Extension.

Traffic changes on McDonalds and Plenty roads

Works are progressing to build new rail underpasses at McDonalds and Plenty roads. There will continue to be traffic changes during construction. Please follow all traffic signage and alterations in each area.

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