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Preston community update – December 2020

21 Dec 2020

Early works have started on the Preston level crossing removals in preparation for major construction scheduled to begin in 2021.

The level crossings at Oakover Road, Bell Street, Cramer Street and Murray Road will be gone by the end of 2022 with open space ready for locals to enjoy in 2023.

We’ll be back out to the community with more information when the detailed designs of the rail bridge have been finalised.

Artist impression of elevated Preston Station with facilities underneath and nearby car park

The project will deliver

Less congestion

A new elevated rail bridge will remove the four dangerous and congested level crossings in Preston. It will make Bell Street level crossing free between Heidelberg and Pascoe Vale, reducing travel times for nearly 100,000 drivers each weekday.

Two new stations

Modern stations at Bell and Preston will be more accessible, have better transport connections and a total of 157 bike parking spaces.

Better public transport

Removing these four level crossings will make it possible to run more trains more often on the Mernda line once the Metro Tunnel is complete.

New open space and landscaping

Open spaces under the rail bridge have been designed from online community engagement and a series of meeting with the Preston Open Space Advisory Panel (POSAP), with our commitment to plant more Australian native trees, shrubs and grasses throughout the project area.

Why these level crossings have to go

  • 82,000 vehicles use these four level crossings each day
  • Boom gates down for 40% of the morning peak
  • More than 200 trains travel through these crossings each day
  • The Mernda line carries about 33,000 passengers per day
  • Improving east-west connections in Melbourne's inner north as we remove two Bell Street level crossings in Coburg and Preston.

Preston's newest open space

Take a look at Preston’s newest open spaces being created under the two-kilometre rail bridge. The open space concept designs have been developed with input from online community consultation conducted in April, and a series of meetings with the Preston Open Space Advisory Panel (POSAP) between May and November 2020

Made up of eight community members and one representative from Darebin City Council, POSAP met regularly over the past six months to help design the open space. Members made suggestions, offered local insights and provided valuable feedback.

During discussions in POSAP, members felt that the three identified POSAP areas didn’t provide enough open space for community input. In response to POSAP, members requests for additional open space input, the design and engineering team investigated opportunities to enable greater POSAP influence in the design. This resulted in POSAP area two being extended from Oakover Road to Showers Street, providing an extra 4000m2 of open space for direct influence by POSAP members.

Artist impression of open space at Preston Station, with open green areas, planting and informal seating.

We also heard that there was limited support for proposed dog parks, with members concerned it restricted the use of spaces, preferring areas being designed for multi-use. This resulted in including more wide-open green spaces, providing areas where locals can kick a footy, run around or simply relax in the sun.

There was great appreciation for making a connection between the open spaces and nearby local landmarks such as the Preston’s tram depot, celebration of Aboriginal culture, linking sporting facilities to Preston City Oval and the connection to Railway Reserve Bike Pathway.

The strong emphasis on rewilding all open spaces with native trees, shrubs and grasses received lots of praise, along with the inclusion of more seating and walking and cycling paths through the area.

Visit Engage Victoria and tell us if the concept designs reflect your views.

Feedback closes at midnight Sunday 17 January.

Open space concept designs

Area 1 – Bell Street to Cramer Street

Map showing changes to area from Bell Street to Cramer Street, including location of nature play, playground and sports facilities

Area 2 – Miller Street to Showers Street

Map showing precinct changes from Miller Street to Showers Street, including rewillding, open space, yarning circle, nature play and boardwalk.

Area 3 – North of Murray Road

Map showing precinct changes to North of Murray Road, including locations of paths, rewilding, nature play, and green open space.

Preston Station – revitalised

Aerial artist impression of new Preston elevated station, path links and green open space.

Keeping you moving during construction

Removing four dangerous and congested level crossings in Preston presents its own unique challenges. The need for trains to access the Epping maintenance yard means the Mernda line cannot be closed for more than 12 consecutive days.

The construction program will run for up to two years and will be completed in four stages before open space and landscaping is undertaken. In that time, we’ll build a 2-kilometre rail bridge and new premium stations at Bell and Preston.

At times, we will have to work during the night. When 24-hour work is anticipated, we’ll provide you with plenty of notice. Our team will chat directly with impacted residents on respite and relocation options when noisy night work is scheduled.

Stage one: site establishment and early works

Early works started in October 2020 preparing the area for major construction. Work crews have been setting up site offices, removing vegetation and relocating underground services such as gas, water, and power. The team is also upgrading signalling on the Mernda line to improve the reliability of services for passengers. These works will continue into 2021, when we’ll also start building temporary stations at Bell and Preston.

We’ll be back out to the community with more information on when the temporary stations will be ready for use.

Stage two: major construction

Scheduled for mid-2021, major construction will include building the two separate rail bridges, one for the up track (towards the city) and one for the down track (towards Mernda). Temporary overheads for the Mernda line will be installed to allow trains to continue operate while we work to remove the four level crossings in Preston.

Construction of the new Bell and Preston stations will also begin in stage two.

Stage three: single line running

There are some locations on the Mernda line that are too narrow for us to safely build sections of the rail bridge while trains are operating. To keep you moving while we work, the Mernda line will operate on a single line between Thornbury and Regent stations. Both Flinders Street and Mernda trains will use the one track in this section of the Mernda line. This will be for approximately three months.

During this time there will be changes to the Mernda line timetable. We’ll be out with more information closer to the date.

Construction will continue on the new Bell and Preston stations during stage three.

Stage four: final works

We’ll be completing the rail bridges, removing the level crossings at Oakover Road, Bell Street, Cramer Street and Murray Road in Preston, and getting ready to open the new Bell and Preston stations.

Stage five: open space and landscaping

Once the rail bridge and stations are built the team will begin working on the open spaces and planting Australian trees, shrubs and grasses, which will be ready for the community to enjoy in 2023.

Artist impression of Preston Station at ground level, including landscaping and seating near entrance.

Project timeline

2017 - 2018
  • Site investigations
  • Technical and engineering assessments
  • Government commitment to remove additional crossings on the Mernda line
  • Confirm design
  • Further engineering investigations
  • Community engagement on what's important to the Preston community
  • Concept designs
  • Further community engagement on defined, negotiable elements of the design
  • Design finalised
  • Early work begins
  • Construction commences
  • Level crossing removed and stations opened
  • Open space ready for locals to enjoy

* Timeline subject to change

Staying up to date

During all stages of construction there will be changes to the way you walk, cycle, drive and catch public transport through the area.

Stay up to date by subscribing to email updates or sign up for SMS disruptions alerts by texting PRESTON to 0428 581 917.

View the PDF version of this community update, PDF, 15.2 MB

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