Frankston line: the big dig

So this is what it looks like when hundreds of millions of dollars worth of infrastructure gets built rapidly in your neighbourhood.

Here are some photos and video of the first week of major works on the Bentleigh/Mckinnon/Ormond level crossings.

(Click any photo to view it larger at Flickr — or click here to view the entire album of photos as a slideshow.)

The end result will be three stations below road level, but first all the dirt has to be dug out.

150 (double) dump trucks are doing an hourly circuit between the work sites and a quarry in Dingley, taking away the dirt. Here a queue of trucks on the north side of Ormond station.
Ormond station, 28/6/2016

The view on the south side of North Road, digging out the rail line between Ormond and Mckinnon.
Ormond station, 28/6/2016

Loading up trucks between Ormond and Mckinnon.
South of Ormond station, 28/6/2016

Some people want a crossing at Murray Road, midway between Ormond and Mckinnon. For now, there is one, for loading up more trucks. This is smack bang in the middle of a residential area. Accommodation has been offered to those most affected by the works.
Murray Road, 28/6/2016

Temporary traffic lights are up at the end of Murray Road, to stop traffic so trucks can turn onto Jasper Road. Gotta keep the trucks moving.
Temporary traffic lights at Murray Road/Jasper Road, 28/6/2016

The hole in the ground formerly known as Mckinnon station, on the north side of the road.
Mckinnon station works, 28/6/2016

No shortage of interest from the locals, and from what I hear, many visitors from elsewhere around Melbourne are coming to have a look.
Onlookers watch the Mckinnon station works, 28/6/2016

Some shops have been affected so badly by the works that they’ve virtually given up.
Mckinnon shop, 28/6/2016

The view from near Mckinnon, looking south down Nicholson Street towards Bentleigh.
Nicholson Street, Mckinnon, looking south 28/6/2016

Nicholson Street, parallel to the railway line, is currently One Way so trucks can enter from the north, be loaded up with dirt, then head south and then east down Centre Road. I wonder how the garbage is being collected? Wouldn’t the garbage trucks only have claws on the left hand side?
Bin day on Nicholson Street, 28/6/2016

At Bentleigh station.
Bentleigh station, 28/6/2016

Part of the deck at Bentleigh station was built after the third track closed and the old station was demolished.
Bentleigh station looking north, 28/6/2016

Bentleigh station, 28/6/2016

Traffic controllers stop westbound cars on Centre Road to allow the trucks (with their large turning circle) to turn out of Nicholson Street (north side) and Burgess Street (south side) to turn in and head towards the quarry.
Centre Road, Bentleigh, 28/6/2016

The trucks come through every few minutes on the truck routes. Here a convoy comes through Bentleigh shopping centre, where parking “adjustments” (eg restrictions) have been in place for about a week, as have traffic light modifications to help keep the trucks moving.
Trucks rolling through Bentleigh, 28/6/2016

Despite the noise and road closures, the workers are getting on well with the locals. This bloke was asking the lady about her garden.
Burgess Street, Bentleigh, 28/6/2016

Queuing dump trucks in Burgess Street, south of Bentleigh station. I think if I lived here, I’d have taken the accommodation offer.
Burgess Street, Bentleigh, 28/6/2016

Nice to see a Hitachi on the rails again. The view from Brewer Road, south of the three stations, looking north.
View from Brewer Road, looking north towards Bentleigh 28/6/2016

On Wednesday night there were plenty of onlookers at Bentleigh. Some parents bring their kids out for an evening walk in their pyjamas to have a look. Buses aren’t currently diverted, but some overnight road closures have occurred.
Bentleigh station, south side, 29/6/2016

Looking south from Bentleigh towards Patterson.
Bentleigh looking south, 29/6/2016

Looking north from Bentleigh, as yet another truck passes by.
Bentleigh station looking north, 29/6/2016

North side at Bentleigh, where the station will be.
Bentleigh station looking north, 29/6/2016

The trucks are having a noise impact along the routes to Dingley:

We cannot sleep with the constant noise of trucks during the night. They need to stop these trucks during the night or reroute to alternate roads on every second night so that we can at least get a decent nights sleep occasionally. One day I was sitting at the East Boundary Rd. / South Rd corner traffic lights and counted 28 trucks going in all directions during a minute duration. It is unbearable!K Hills

And inevitably, dirt and dust is getting everywhere. The project team has promised they’ll clean up the roads… I wonder if that extends to cleaning cars as well?
A dump truck passes parked cars in Bentleigh, 29/6/2016

But the good news is that progress has been significant. If all goes to schedule, most of the digging should be finished early next week.

Finally, for all the construction geeks and their kids who love watching this stuff on Youtube, here’s 90 seconds of digging… view it full screen at Youtube to see it in all its glory.

See also:

Dandenong Skyrail debate continues

There are some incredible sights coming out of the Bentleigh/Mckinnon/Ormond level crossing removal works, and I’ll post some pictures (and hopefully video) tomorrow.

But in the mean time, early works on the “CD9” Caulfield to Dandenong 9 “Skyrail” crossings is also happening.

I don’t have a big update for you, but I recently bashed out this summary of the debate around this project on Reddit, and I thought I’d repost it here:

There’s the residents who live very close, many of whom don’t want an elevated line next to their houses (though some do not object as they see the advantages from the land opened up). Some of their concerns are perhaps exaggerated, but some are genuine and legitimate.

There’s the Liberals who sense this is a weakness of the Dandrews ALP government, and are exploiting it for all its worth.

For most other people, I suspect they just want the crossings gone ASAP, and with the least disruption possible. (For perspective, the Frankston line shutdown that has just begun is said to be the biggest since the City Loop was under construction, and involves 100+ buses at peak times. The Dandenong line is twice as busy and involves three times as many stations.)

Removing crossings doesn’t just benefit motorists. It also benefits pedestrians, bus users, cyclists and emergency services, and it enables more (and eventually, longer) trains on the most crowded line on the system, as well as improving safety/train reliability.

At least, that’s how I see it. What do you think?

The discussion on Reddit raised some interesting points, and is worth a look if you’re not offended by an occasional smattering of coarse language.

They’re never going to convince those most vehemently opposed to it, but it is important that the government keeps talking to everyone involved, and accommodates any reasonable request for information, or that can help minimise impacts from construction and from the final design.

PS. There have been some good discussions on Twitter about the project, but a small number of people have resorted to throwing insults and accusations around. I’m going to stop engaging with those people, and though I hate to do it, will block people who become abusive.

Old photos from June 2006

The month is almost over – here are photos from June 2006, continuing my series of posting ten year old photos.

Glenhuntly station, which looks much the same today except for additional shelter and PIDs (Passenger Information Displays). Following the works in 2016 to remove level crossings further south, many would be hoping the crossing here (and Neerim Road very close by) are done soon, but it looks like that will only happen after Labor funds all fifty in its 2014-2022 plan.
Glenhuntly station, June 2006

This illogical parking sign from Elsternwick was the subject of a blog post. Why restrict it to four hours parking during a four hour period on Saturday morning? I can’t find the photo right now, but even sillier was the nearby restriction of five hours between 8am-12noon. I think the last time I looked, these had been fixed.
Illogical parking sign, Elsternwick, June 2006

Pulling apart a VHS tape (and putting it back together). I’m sure there was a terribly good reason for this, though it escapes me for now. I still have a lot of VHS tapes; I’m gradually chucking them out, but somewhere on one of them is a mildly embarrassing recording of my sister on TV, so I’m checking each tape before I dispose of it to try and find it.
VHS video tape

Route 404 bus stop. I probably snapped this for the PTUA 404 page.
Bus 404 stop, June 2006

Collins/William Street corner. Looks about the same, but much busier given all the development at the west end of the CBD. The trams are all in different colours, of course, and LED displays replaced the old canvas destination rolls.
Collins/William Streets, June 2006

Bourke/William Street corner looking north. On the left is now the gigantic CGU building and Goldsborough Lane arcade.
Bourke/William Streets, June 2006

Swanston Street looking north towards Bourke Street. I think I took this because I became fascinated with all the companies using lime green in their colour schemes. Note the Crazy John’s mobile phone shop on the corner — founder John Ilhan had passed away a few years before; Vodafone now owns the brand.
Swanston Street, June 2006

Manchester Lane. Not so different from today.
Manchester Lane, June 2006

The contrast from the 1990s to the 2000s was more striking — in 1993 we chose the spot for a grimy creepy laneway for a student film:
Manchester Lane, 1993 (student film)

Bentleigh: boom gates officially gone

Major construction on my local level crossing removals has commenced.

The boom gates at Bentleigh, Mckinnon and Ormond have delayed their last ambulance, bus and pedestrian.

The last trains ran on Friday night, and over the weekend workers were busy taking out the rail line: overhead wire, track, signalling, ballast.

Level crossing removal works near Ormond, 25/6/2016

Level crossing removal works, Ormond 25/6/2016

Digging out the old station at Bentleigh, 26/6/2016

And the boom gates of course. On Sunday morning there was a media/photo opportunity to proclaim the crossings gone, though of course trains won’t be running again until the end of July.

Kevin Devlin (LXRA), Jacinta Allan (Public Transport Minister), Daniel Andrews (Premier), Nick Staikos (MP for Bentleigh) at Bentleigh 26/6/2016

The boom gates were loaded up on a truck and taken away.

Allan: “I think we need some more help with this.”
Andrews: “I’m sure Daniel will give us a hand.”
Lifting the boom gate for the last time - Jacinta Allan, Nick Staikos, Daniel Andrews at Bentleigh 26/6/2016

Boom gates are taken away by truck, 26/6/2016

Nearby, various machinery was taking out the railway line on the crossing itself, leaving the road bridge (built earlier in the year).

Level crossing removal works, Bentleigh 26/6/2016

As of this morning, the crossings are all open to road traffic, and digging and tunnelling (including under the roads) will happen over the next 10 days or so, with trucks removing the spoil to a quarry in Dingley which is being filled in. Then they’ll get to work building the new rail line and stations.

Some local traders are able to take advantage of the huge workforce present for the project, with cafes opening for extended hours. Apparently Brumbys Bakery is open 24/7.

Other traders are feeling the squeeze due to construction impacts, including closure of the stations.

Local residents are being urged to shop local to offer their support. This Level Crossing Removal Authority web site highlights local businesses.

And of course five weeks of bustitution for the Frankston line has just begun, and it’s good to see shelter has finally been installed at all the stops.

When I spoke to Metro CEO Andrew Lezala at the boom gate event on Sunday morning, he said he was off to catch a bus, to see how they were running.

Of course, the real challenges are during peak hours. Good luck, fellow passengers.

What’s Melbourne’s busiest bus route?

Happy Bus Safety Week!

Quick, what’s the busiest bus route in Melbourne?

Come Monday morning, the busiest bus route in the state will be in the southeastern suburbs — with more passengers and buses serving it by a long shot.

And it doesn’t even have a route number.

What is it? The Frankston line rail replacements from Moorabbin to Caulfield, over 37 days and nights from tonight at 9pm.

I compared PTV bus route stats (the latest available, sadly, are from way back in 2011-12) and tried to work out the number of buses in service at peak times, based on the timetabled round trip and frequencies. For the Frankston line bustitution, the LXRA have said around 100 buses will be used, maybe more.

But how many passengers? Well the 2013-14 train passenger figures are 38,440 entries per weekday. I’m assuming half those people use the buses (similar to an LXRA estimate from earlier in the year), but that each of them does so twice a day. A wild guess, perhaps, but let’s go with it.

So based on that, here’s how the busiest routes stack up against the forecast loads and buses for the rail replacements:

Busiest bus route estimated boardings

Busiest bus route estimated number of buses in service

Apart from bus drivers, the Frankston line bustitution also has a significant number of despatch staff, and customer service staff (at least two at each stop).

It’s worth noting that the Smartbus routes are far longer than the 401 and the Frankston line bustitution, which are a short sharp concentrated burst of activity.

Busiest bus route lengths

(Skybus is another contender for busiest/best served route. The estimates for this are pretty hard to come by, but at a wild guess weekday patronage is perhaps around 8000 per day.)

The operating hours on the bustitution route match those of trains: until midnight, and all night on weekends… which is why it’s baffling that they still haven’t fixed the part time bus zone at Patterson.

Parking, bus zone, Jasper Road

37 days

The works during the 37 days are significant, and the disruption is being described as the biggest rail shut down since the City Loop was built more than 30 years ago.

Some train passengers will jump ship to the Sandringham line… it seems Metro has managed to squeeze an extra service on that line to help cope with loads.

The buses will be split during peak times into express and stopping routes, with the stoppers along Jasper Road as before, but the expresses along Thomas Street/Bambra Road — hopefully helping the whole thing run more smoothly. Of course the impact of 150 truck movements per minute hour on nearby roads during the first ten days will have an effect.

Bustitution

Given the number of buses required, clearly the bus companies have found any buses they can — there are a lot out there with no Myki readers (the buses are basically free to ride), and I’ve spotted high-floor non-accessible buses in service (not necessarily a problem as long as accessible buses are plentiful).

The first two weeks of operation are during school holidays, but there are three weeks of “normal” weekdays, which is when the buses will really be tested.

It’ll be great when it’s all over.

But in the mean time, brace yourself, fellow Frankston line users.