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The opening follows a recent two-month rail closure on the Frankston line, where three dangerous and congested level crossings were removed, with strict safety protocols in place to protect workers and the community.
Finishing touches to the stations, landscaping and a new 3.5 kilometre walking and cycling path between Cheltenham and Mentone will continue until late 2020.
The occupation of the rail line to remove three level crossings, relocate the rail line into trenches and commence construction of the two new stations began on 23 May and finished on 20 July 2020. The mammoth task involved a team of 1,700 workers with crews working around the clock to pour more than 15,000 cubic metres of concrete, install almost 7,000 tonnes of steel reinforcing, and lay 25,000 tonnes of ballast. Works during the occupation were completed ahead of time enabling trains on the Frankston line to return to service ahead of schedule.
Benefits to the local community were quick with roads reopening boom gate free in mid-June, resulting in reduced traffic congestion and safer local roads. Previously, the boom gates at Cheltenham and Mentone could be down for up to 49 minutes in the morning peak – causing delays and frustration for the 38,000 vehicles that cross the rail line each day.
Sustainability targets were also a key feature of this project with 60 per cent water saving achieved at Mentone due to the installation of a rainwater tank for the heritage gardens and 45 per cent water saving achieved at Cheltenham for rainwater collection to irrigate the new landscaping. A 40 per cent reduction in peak electrical demand will be achieved at Mentone Station and at Cheltenham Station by installing solar systems, and significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions will see Mentone Station having 80 per cent less greenhouse gas emissions than the old station and Cheltenham Station will have 50 per cent less emissions than the old station.
This major transport infrastructure milestone was delivered by the Southern Program Alliance involving Lendlease, ACCIONA/Coleman Rail, Metro Trains Melbourne, Level Crossing Removal Project, and WSP.