Project Report

Massive feats undertaken for Warragul’s Rail Precinct Upgrade

The Warragul Rail Precinct Upgrade is one of the larges public transport projects undertaken in Regional Victoria.

The Warragul Rail Precinct Upgrade is one of the larges public transport projects undertaken in Regional Victoria.Even on his lunchbreak, Thiess Project Manager Raphael Touzel could see traffic backed up through Warragul’s CBD.

The only option for traffic heading to east and south Warragul was via the town centre, which culminated in congestion at the Queen Street roundabout.

Today, that congestion has eased and there’s been positive feedback from both local council and Warragul citizens, Mr. Touzel says. He describes the work to develop the area as phenomenal.

The $26 million Warragul Rail Precinct Upgrade, completed earlier this year, was officially opened on 30 March. The project involved a combined upgrade of rail, road, pedestrian and bicycle facilities at the Victorian town’s train station. The aim of the project was to open up road access to the eastern and southern suburbs of Warragul without impacting the town’s CBD, and to improve safety at the Warragul train station for cars and pedestrians alike.

Mr. Touzel and his construction team mobilised the site in February 2014. One of the first steps in the redevelopment phase was the most time-dependent task. Under a tight 60-hour deadline over the course of a weekend in May, Mr. Touzel and his team lifted the rail tracks and worked on installing the new underpass and pedestrian bridges. The crew excavated 1100 cubic metres of soil to make way for bridge supports. A 250-tonne crane then lifted and drove 24-metre-long steel tube piles into the ground. Following this, a 450-tonne crane lifted the pre-cast concrete bridge components into place. The entire process involved disconnecting rail signal circuits, ripping up the tracks, and reconnecting of the rail lines after that.

Mr. Touzel says the installation of the rail underpass and pedestrian bridges was one of the most challenging elements of the project.

The work required the closure of Gippsland’s rail line, which Mr. Touzel says is a complex and expensive task to undertake for 60 hours. “That’s what’s expected these days, in terms of not disrupting the public or train services,” he says. After the final train on the Friday night, the installation of the underpass was completed in time for the early morning train to Melbourne the following Monday. “To get it done in a weekend was phenomenal… the amount of planning that went into it was massive, and we completed the project without injury or incident,” says Mr. Touzel.

The task of installing the underpass and pedestrian bridges was followed by another engineering challenge. During further excavation of the underpass, the engineers found that the wet and soft ground made it difficult to establish a base for the road and retaining wall. Mr. Touzel says that the water table was a only couple of metres below the ground and that work brought water into the excavation site. “That ground water, plus the rain water, had to be managed and redirected during construction. This was done through pumping the water into temporary sedimentation ponds,” he explains. As part of the permanent solution an automatic pump drainage system was installed, which collected the water in underground tanks and redistributed it at the nearby Warragul Livestock Exchange and Showgrounds. Mr. Touzel adds that redistributing the water benefited both the underpass and the local stockyards.

The project involved the construction of a 200-space car park, bus interchange with shelters, a drop-off and pick-up area near the station and a bicycle shelter.

The redevelopment’s construction phase took 18 months, and the project was delivered on budget and ahead of schedule. Mr. Touzel says it was a challenging environment to work in, but they had the right team to get it done: “It was a small team and a pretty remarkable result in a short amount of time.”

The project involved a large number of stakeholders including VicRoads, Public

Transport Victoria, V/Line, Baw Baw Shire Council and the Warragul community.

V/Line Service Manager Paul O’Shannassy says there has been an increase in the number of people using the services from Warragul: “We have seen a slight change in travel patterns because of the new car park, where people are no longer driving to the next station at Drouin because of the lack of parking at Warragul.” He says this has taken the pressure off the all-day parking bays and surrounding local streets.

VicRoads South Eastern Project Director Charlie Broadhurst says the project has reduced congestion since its opening on 30 March. East and south Warragul are home to growing residential developments, industrial estates and car yards. “The rail underpass gives another route option, greater choice in travel and relieves congestion through the CBD,” he says.

Project Manager Mr. Touzel says the Warragul Rail Precinct Upgrade is his team’s legacy to the community.

He says safety has improved all around. It is a lot safer for pedestrians at the underpass, traffic is flowing better through Warragul and the parking facilities give the public safe access from their car to the station.

He puts the success of the project down to the collaboration of those involved: “It was just about planning and using some smarts to do it.”

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