How Caulfield to Dandenong Is Elevating Outcomes for Melbourne Communities
We are building infrastructure at a time where the power of community voice is stronger than ever before.
At the same time, populations are growing at an unprecedented rate, meaning that the needs of our people must be at the centre of design if our infrastructure is to be built for the future.
Keeping community at the heart of design was at the very core of the Caulfield to Dandenong Level Crossings Removal project in Melbourne – a critical initiative that has seen our involvement in the removal of nine dangerous level crossings and built five brand new elevated stations at Carnegie, Murrumbeena, Hughesdale, Clayton and Noble park.
The pace and scale of the project was unprecedented. As part of the Alliance, WSP worked alongside Lendlease, CPB Contractors, Aurecon as well as Metro Trains Melbourne and the Level Crossing Removal Project.
For three years, WSP had 300 staff working on the project for a total of 350,000 hours with the goal of delivering safer outcomes for the community and enhancing the liveability of Melbourne – which is set to become the largest city in Australia.
Engineering for Open Public Space
The design of the project centred around an innovative elevated railway. It was the first time in Australia that an elevated railway of this scale was built in a live rail corridor. The solution freed up a huge swathe of public land, which was transformed into 22.5 hectares of new parks, paths and open space. The land re-gifted to the community is comparable to 11 Melbourne Cricket Grounds – the largest return of land to the people of Melbourne since the establishment of the Royal Botanic Gardens in 1846.
More than 2,000 residents live right up against corridor boundaries and constructing through such densely populated areas brought new challenges that required the designers and constructors to seek technology not previously used in Australia. This ensured minimal disruption was caused to the surrounding environment while delivering a result that would serve the needs of the growing local community.
A Legacy for Future Elevated Rail Projects
Minimising the operational noise of the railway was one challenge that designers sought to address. Arvind Deivasigamani, WSP’s Senior Acoustics Engineer, explains how the project’s advanced 3D rail noise algorithm was developed to predict operational rail noise levels with a greater degree of accuracy.
He says, “Typically, we use a simple algorithm to predict operational rail noise in Australia. The unique elevated design of the project meant that we needed to develop more advanced techniques. We collaborated with the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research Lab in University of Southampton, who are international experts in this field to develop complex analytical and computational models that could assess vibration levels.
“This enabled us to make design decisions that alter how noise is generated throughout the rail corridor and supports a more comfortable customer experience on the platform.
“Future level crossing removal projects will be able to use this approach to deliver better noise management outcomes.”
Being the biggest upgrade to an existing rail line in Victoria’s history, and the greatest single package removal of level crossings ever in Melbourne set the project up to achieve several other industry firsts. It was one of the largest overhead wiring projects in the Southern hemisphere with some 680km of overhead wiring delivered over the 70km rail corridor.
Mike Jenkins, WSP’s Alliance Leadership Team says that the innovations extended to the construction methodology, particularly when it came to the installation of beams on the elevated platform.
He says, “The largest of the new railway viaducts is built using locally produced pre-cast segments which were assembled on-site. A custom designed carrier from Italy was then used to move beams down the corridor before placing them into position.
“The gantry and carrier worked alongside the train track, so the trains could keep running. This form of construction approach in a residential environment was an Australian-first and meant we could minimise disruptions to the community.”
The station design has also been recognised as having the highest environmental ratings in Australia. A lot of innovation, energy and water saving devices have created a benchmark for future projects.
Mr Jenkins says that while the project is commendable for all these elements, the unique legacy was delivering a rail line that brought together the community.
“All big cities struggle with open space and connectiveness. Railways have traditionally separated people. Through elevating the railway, we have been able to reconnect communities and create a massive amount of space. Neighbourhoods along the corridor that were once divided by the rail are now connected, and boom gates that were previously down for 82 minutes every two-hour peak, no longer exist.
“While the catalyst for removal of the level crossing was foremost about improving safety for the community, looking at the peripheral needs of people enabled us to deliver an end outcome that enhances liveability of the city.”
Caulfield to Dandenong is one package of the program to remove 50 dangerous level crossings throughout Melbourne by 2022. Some of the remaining projects will use a similar rail-over methodology.
To stay abreast of our latest news, publications, videos and posts, please follow us on LinkedIn.