The challenges were multiple and immediate on the Regional Rail Link project. The people of regional Victoria who were relying on the aging rail network, VLine, to connect them to metropolitan Melbourne, faced constant and ongoing delays, cancellations and serious overcrowding issues. With no alternative, and a growing population, commuters were resigned to a worsening daily transport experience. This needed to change for the better, as the transport issues were putting regional Victorians at a serious disadvantage as they tried to go about their daily lives. The regional rail project also aimed to improve the safety of both commuters and train drivers.
The delivery of a project the size and scale of the Regional Rail Line would need to be completed with minimal disruption to rail operations to avoid causing further frustration for users of the existing rail network, VLine. With 22 public and industry stakeholders involved on the project, new approaches to project management, design processes and built environment solutions would be needed, including smarter responses to key community concerns including environmental, heritage and cultural impacts.
In a regional rail projects Victoria joint venture, Arcadis was selected to play a major role in the delivery of a vastly improved daily transport experience connecting communities on the western fringe with metropolitan Melbourne.
Arcadis provided multiple specialised services in the delivery of the largest segment of the regional rail network, a rail corridor covering the section from Deer Park to West Werribee Junction. This section would provide 25km of new dual railway tracks featuring two new railway stations and 27 new bridges, including 12 road over rail bridges, a road underbridge, four rail under-bridges, three road-over-minor waterway bridges and seven rail-over-minor waterway bridges. The implementation anti-throw screens on road overbridges would also ensure the safety of the train drivers and passengers.
The project utilised many of Arcadis capabilities to provide track design and modelling, civil, road work and traffic engineering, geotechnical expertise, station design, MEP and ESD services to prepare the detailed design for the project that included over 100 separate design packages. Included in the work was track design of 25km of new dual broad gauge railway tracks including civil works for signalling and utility services; two new railway stations at Wyndham Vale and Tarneit; a 2.5km long rail cutting up to 10m deep; 28 bridges (11 rail and 17 road bridges); 12 grade separations; road design for 14 local roads, eight road truncations; signalisation and street lighting for six intersections; and longitudinal and cross local and network drainage.
Thanks to a future-focussed design approach by Arcadis and an application of best practices including futureproofing of road overbridges for future Regional Rail Link and Metro tracks duplication and road widening and provisions for another four stations, the benefits will be long-lasting into the future. The electrification of the corridor would also deliver ongoing sustainable outcomes.
The Arcadis team won the Design Innovation Award from the Regional Rail Link Authority for its work associated with major cross drainage infrastructure for the project.
The impact of the regional rail project Victoria has been overwhelmingly positive, with a greatly improved quality of life for the thousands of people who rely daily on the regional rail services to connect them to metropolitan Melbourne. Regional rail users on the Geelong, Bendigo and Ballarat lines have enjoyed vast improvements in their transport experiences, including a more streamlined, comfortable journey through the metropolitan system, and most importantly, the Regional Rail Network has addressed frustrating issues including reliability and overcrowding.
The long-term economic benefits of the project cannot be understated. With a reliable and effective regional rail system in place, the Regional Rail Link provides the Melbourne train network with vital infrastructure that forms part of a sustainable solution to population growth and improves transport connections between some of Victoria’s fastest growing communities, which is also a key driver of economic growth in regional Victoria.
Critically, the end result is reliable transport for the extra 400,000 + people expected to live and work in regional Victoria over the next decade.