Saturday, January 24, 2009

Building Bridges Pt 2

Back in December I made a post about the Clifton Hill rail project and the progress to that date. Since then it has come along in leaps and bounds, and in fact if I didn't know better I would say that after this weekend it will be open to trains.

Throughout December finishing touches were made on the bridge, while so far in January all the new track, electrical overhead and signals have been put in place. Two weekends ago a new set of points was installed at Clifton Hill, which allow city bound trains from Westgarth to enter the platform from the new section of track. This weekend it appears that all is left to do is to re-align and connect everything up at the Westgarth end. As a regular traveller on this line I am very impressed with the lack of disruption to regular train services, the only bustitutions occuring over a few late nights and weekends.

As an interested observer of the development of public transport I am amazed at the apparent planning that went into this operation. My opinion is that big projects in this country are always half baked and never realise their full potential. This and the previous Middleboroough Road grade separation of 2007 have somewhat changed this, and give me hope that future improvements to the Victorian rail network (often much needed after years of no funding and little care or maintenance) will be done as professionally. I only hope that our transport planning beaurocrats are able to get more funding to remove the stupid bottlenecks like Clifton Hill as well as implimenting sensible extensions (ie not so much the Eddington tunnels or Tarneit lines).

One thing I will say is that the governments targets for completion (ie the end of 2009 as stated on signs and projects website) are complete rubbish. I beleive they artificially extend the time required so they can make make it look like the project is completed early, when in fact it is on time or only a little early. Judging by the pace of work on this job there was never any question that it would open within the first half of 2009. Then there is the fact that the figure includes landscaping of the public parks and crown land which have been occupied during the construction, which will probably go on for a few months after trains are running.

6 comments:

Andrew said...

Agree about early completion time.......and no doubt under budget? It is amazing how well things can happen when they have the resources put into them. EG Trams and Grand Prix.

RVB said...

I was there yesterday and took many photos that I will post about. It seems the project is reaching its climax; they have those diesel work engines on the newly made tracks stabilizing everything and judging by Connex's announcements, the actual trackwork should be done by Tuesday.

Ben said...

Oh yeah, I forgot about inflating the budget, probably. Would go a long way to explain the costs of things in the recent transport plan. Andrew, do you really think the trams are adequately funded?


I look forward to the post Reuben.

Damo said...

Again had this URL sent to me to check out.

Ben, once again like I said to your last CHL post, thanks for your positive words. Being one of those with a major involvement in this project it is good to see the rare piece of positive feedback on the internet.

Interesting to note that at least both channels ABC and 7 reported Kosky boarding a train at CHL today, did either mention the new railway track/bridge??? NO!

Ben said...

Thanks for both your comments Damo, good to hear from someone on the inside. I missed the news tonight, but I was surprised not to hear anything about the bridge on the radio this morning or read about it on the news websites.

Andrew said...

Apart from some very rough track Ben, I would say the funds are probably adequate. While track can be poor and look dangerous, I don't believe there is any that is unsafe. Of course the system should be expanding and over thirty year old trams should be long gone. I expect money will flow better once the tender is decided.