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Preston community update - May 2019

17 May 2019

We’re removing four dangerous and congested level crossings and building two new stations on the Mernda line. This vital project for the inner-north comes after the Mernda rail extension was completed last year.

The level crossings at Oakover Road, Bell Street, Cramer Street and Murray Road in Preston are a major source of congestion in Melbourne’s north.

Our early technical and engineering investigations have shown that raising the rail line over the road is the best solution for removing these level crossings.

Getting rid of these crossings will make it easier to get around the local area and improve east-west connections across busy arterial roads. Raising the rail line over the road will also create new open and green spaces underneath the rail bridge and minimise disruption during construction.

We will build new Bell and Preston stations, providing modern, safe and easily accessible facilities.

Construction will begin in 2020 with the project complete in 2022.

Cars waiting at the Bell Street level crossing

Next steps

Since we initially announced the removal of the Bell Street level crossing, we’ve had a lot of valuable feedback on what you want to see as part of this project.

We’re currently working to develop a design that best reflects what you told us you want to see in the area, ensuring the look and feel of the final design fits the character of Preston.

In the coming months we’ll be further developing the design and giving local people an opportunity to help shape the project.

We’re continuing technical investigations to help us understand the area around the level crossings at Oakover Road, Cramer Street and Murray Road.

Factors such as ground conditions, environmental aspects and local features will help to shape the project, including construction methodology and timeframes.

Why these level crossings have to go

The Bell Street level crossing was part of the initial 50 level crossings nominated for removal. Since then, the Victorian Government has committed to removing three more level crossings on the Mernda line, at Oakover Road, Cramer Street and Murray Road. As well as removing these level crossings, new stations will be built at Bell and Preston.

Improved station precincts

New stations will be built at Bell and Preston to improve the area and provide better access for locals.

Safer connections

We will deliver better east-west connections underneath the rail bridge to reduce travel times and make it easier for you to get where you need to be.

New open space

Raising the rail line will create new open space underneath the elevated structure. These areas can be used for things like playgrounds and sporting facilities. As the project progresses, we’ll be looking for your ideas to help shape the new open space.

A rail bridge is the best solution for removing these level crossings

Less disruptions

The rail bridge will be made of concrete beams that will be partially built off-site, meaning less disruption for locals. Digging a rail trench would be more disruptive to nearby residents, causing greater noise, dust and vibration. It would also require a much longer shutdown of the rail line and more machinery and trucks on local streets.

Surrounding land

The natural gradient of the land surrounding the rail corridor gradually rises towards Reservoir. If the rail line was lowered into an open trench, the length of the trench would need to be much longer in order to allow trains to return to ground level at the correct gradient.

This would add months to construction, increase disruption and add significant costs, as well as reducing opportunities for new open space.

Melbourne water floodplain

The area in between the Bell Street and Murray Road level crossings lies on a natural floodplain. If the rail was lowered into a trench, extensive drainage work would need to be carried out in the area.

The Yan Yean Water Supply System, Melbourne’s oldest surviving water main system, also runs through the area and would need to be redirected if the rail line was lowered, resulting in widespread disruptions.

  • 82,000 vehicles each day use these four level crossings each day
  • Boom gates are down for 40% of the morning peak
  • 143 trains travel through these crossings each day

Project timeline


2017 – 2018

  • Site investigations
  • Technical and engineering assessments
  • Community consultation
  • Government commitment to remove additional crossings on the Mernda line


  • Announce design solution
  • Further engineering investigations
  • Further community consultation
  • Design refinement


  • Works begin


  • Construction


  • Project complete

* Please note that the timeline above is subject to change.

View the PDF version of this community update PDF, 1.2 MB

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