The Minister for Public Transport, Jacinta Allan, this morning announced the preferred design option for removing level crossings in Cheltenham and Mentone would include sinking the rail lines under existing road grades and rebuilding both stations in respective trenches.
The level crossings on Frankston line to go are Park Road and Charman Road in Cheltenham and Balcombe Road in Mentone.
According to the Minister, "lowering the rail line at Cheltenham will require the acquisition of 32 properties - 25 hours and 7 businesses. There are no acquisitions required at Mentone".
Initially, only Charman Road was included in the scope of the level crossing removal project in Cheltenham, however Park Road - which along with the railway line and Charman Road form a distinct triangle in Cheltenham's activities district - was added during the community consultation period.
The image above was used during the early consultation phase for the entire Frankston line suite of level crossing removals. The quite substantial property acquisitions for this station precinct appear to be related to Cheltenham station needing extra space below ground to fit three platforms and three tracks (and respective connections).
At present, Cheltenham's third platform is only connected to the main running tracks for the Frankston line on the 'up' (City) side of the station - in a video released by the Level Crossing Removal Authority, the three platforms and tracks appear to be connected at both ends.
"The project will also re-instate the third track at Cheltenham Station and extend it to connect with the mainline, creating space for more trains, more often on [the] Frankston Line".
Cheltenham received a mention in the Melbourne Metro Tunnel's business case as one of the mid-points on key rail lines that were likely to receive extra rail infrastructure to support shorter train runs - Essendon on the Craigieburn line and Gowrie on the Upfield line were the other two explicit mentions. (Click the image below to see a larger version - Cheltenham, Essendon and Gowrie are listed under the 'Wider Network Enhancements - Other Corridor Works' section).
And judging by the development pipeline in Cheltenham, coupled with the new station nearing completion at Southland, this area is going to need a new tier of service.
Upwards of 650 units are currently in the pipeline in Cheltenham alone - 200 of which are under construction.
The project listed below are all within a 500m radius of the existing station entry.
This article has been amended to include new Cheltenham Station details.