Planning Scheme changes for Pakenham/Cranbourne & Sunbury upgrades online

Planning Scheme changes for Pakenham/Cranbourne & Sunbury upgrades online
Planning Scheme changes for Pakenham/Cranbourne & Sunbury upgrades online

Now that one of the biggest milestones in the Melbourne Metro Tunnel project has been and gone - placing the order for the tunneling machines - the Melbourne Metro Rail Authority has published information pertaining to other works that will be carried out to transport the Pakenham/Cranbourne and Sunbury lines into one largely operationally independent railway.

It's not quite what Sydney has in store - an entirely separate railway, orphaned from the rest of the rail network - however these railway lines will see more intensive use, over above what they currently handle.

Spring Street regularly uses the same terminology that the NSW Government does in relation to Sydney Metro - turn up and go services, which really just means high frequencies of service - however the Melbourne railway lines will still contend with other services running on the same track, namely V/Line regional services and freight services.

The Victorian Government touts the Melbourne Metro project as one that will see the first transformation of an existing railway to use high capacity signaling that will allow trains to run closer together between Watergardens and Dandenong, and of course, the new fleet of trains - the 'High-Capacity Metro Trains (HCMTs) - will be dedicated to running on the Pakenham/Cranbourne and Sunbury lines.

The Metro Tunnel through the city, the new HCMTs, the high capacity signaling project and the level crossing removals on the Sunbury line between the city and Watergardens and the Pakenham/Cranbourne lines between Caulfield and Dandenong have never been branded as one project but they very much are all the building blocks needed to make the plans the government has for these lines happen.

Planning Scheme changes for Pakenham/Cranbourne & Sunbury upgrades online
Map outlining the works required for introduction of new services in Melbourne. Image: MMRA

In order to take advantage of the new fleet of trains, platforms between the metro tunnel and Sunbury need to be lengthened to fit the new fleet of 7-car trains - many stations on the eastern side are being rebuilt (level crossing removal project) and/or already have sufficient length to fit the new trains.

Regulars on the Pakenham and Cranbourne lines might have noticed the new stanchions and overall catenary installed progressively in those rail corridors however even more electrical substations will be built - one of the reasons there are currently planning amendments up for public submissions.

The contract to install the new $1billion high capacity signaling contract was awarded in 2017 and a trial of the system before it's rolled out entirely in the sections outlined in the map above will occur on the South Morang line which is rapidly seeing its extension to Mernda conclude its construction phase.

As part of the contract, two new signaling centres will be built - one in Sunshine and one in Dandenong.

Also as part of the works that require the planning scheme amendment, West Footscray station, re-built recently as part of the Regional Rail Link project, will see modifications with the introduction of a 3rd platform that will allow short-run services to 'turn' at West Footscray and travel back through the tunnels into the eastern side of the metro line.

The HCMT project includes a new stabling and maintenance facility in Pakenham East however the planning scheme amendments and map above outline that changes will be made at Watergardens, Sunbury and Calder Park so that the new trains can be stored in those locations as well.

The draft planning scheme amendments are now published and can be seen here.  Submissions close on April 21st 2018.

Lead image credit: Final span for the Poath Road level crossing removal is put in place, image: LXRA.

Alastair Taylor

Alastair Taylor

Alastair Taylor is a co-founder of Now a freelance writer, Alastair focuses on the intersection of public transport, public policy and related impacts on medium and high-density development.


Be the first one to comment on this article
What would you like to say about this project?