It's been a while since the last update on the Frankston line grade separation, but the Christmas/New Year break is a good place to take stock.
As has already been mentioned, the Down line has been taken out of service to allow piling on the eastern side of the line in the McKinnon/Bentleigh areas. However, I strongly suspect that it will be restored to service next year to allow piling work on the western side of the line as 1) the signalling is still service (and was recabled), 2) the overhead has not been removed (and was transferred to the new overhead stanchions), and 3) the platforms at Ormond and Bentleigh are intact.
Major road closures at McKinnon Rd and Centre Rd were postponed until the new year to avoid being a Christmas grinch to the shopkeepers in McKinnon and Bentleigh.
Current state of play...
Signalling equipment located on the eastern side of the line has been relocated to new ground enclosures located between the Centre and Up lines. The signalling appears to have been completely recabled, with the new orange cables being run up the back of the existing masts. Ground level signalling equipment (trainstops, track circuit equipment) on the Down line has been moved clear of the track, but is still wired. The signals on the Down line remain lit, but are all at stop.
Major work at Ormond has ceased, with the two major piling rigs being relocated to McKinnon and Bentleigh. The older rig, which had been working north along Cadby Ave, has been relocated to Bentleigh. The run of the cast-in-situ piles extends along Cadby Ave from north of Murray Rd to North Road (or very near to North Road). The newer rig, which had been working south along Katandra Rd and which did the work at North Rd, has been relocated to McKinnon. It's difficult to tell how much of the piling has been completed in this section as the track here is in a slight cutting. I have a sense that it's not quite completed. It's been known for a while that the new Ormond station will have two entrances, one each side of North Road. It's now been confirmed that both sides will have lifts and stairs.
Substantial temporary fencing has been provided between the Down and Centre lines to protect the worksites. This commences north of Murray Road, and extends to Brewer Road.
A small piling rig is working south of Murray Road towards McKinnon (along the eastern property boundary). This uses conventional U shaped sheet steel piles. It's apparently a known as a 'Giken' - and appears to be this machine http://www.giken.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/SilentPiler_SCU-600M_ver043en01.pdf
. Presumably the steel piles are temporary and concrete retaining walls will be constructed later. This type of piling will probably be used whereever private property abuts the railway line and the big rigs cannot be used (i.e. west side of line north of Ormond through to McKinnon, east side of line from Murray Rd to Bentleigh, and from Centre Rd to the end of the cutting).
No 3 platform at McKinnon has been cleared (except for a 'Dumb ways to die' poster and a bin - go figure). The northern steel extension has been removed to allow vehicle access to the Down line. The newer drilling rig was assembled in the former eastern car park over the week before Christmas. If I've interpreted the cabalistic markings on McKinnon Road, the bridge piles will be located outside the existing boom barriers - the eastern piles will nearly be in a line with the property boundary. The McKinnon Rd bridge will be in two spans with a centre row of piles located between the existing Centre and Up lines. The station concourse will be on the northern side of McKinnon Rd with a depth of around 15 metres. A short section (50 metres or so) of the Down line has been removed south of McKinnon Rd. I'd suspect this is to allow access for the large piling machines, the tracks of which would not be kind to rail. The overhead over the Down line has been pulled to one side to allow space to work. The (council) public toilets which were formerly located adjacent to the level crossing on the corner of Nicholson and McKinnon Rds were demolished on the Monday after the track changeover. Temporary public toilets, feeding a septic tank, have been located slightly further south on Nicholson St. When construction work is completed, new public toilets will be located in the new station buildings. The council will maintain them.
The older drilling rig is being assembled in the eastern car park next to the platform at Bentleigh. The Down platform is intact, including all platform furniture and the building. The small shoe repair shop, the Parkiteer, and the PSO office (Ballieu box) on the western side of the line have been demolished. The shoe repair shop has been relocated to a portable on Nicholson St. The western entrances to the former subway were excavated and then refilled. South of Centre road the relay boxes for the level crossing (located on the eastern property boundary) were replaced by new boxes between the Centre and Up lines.
Planned works are now:
Fri 22 Jan - Mon 1 Feb (9 days): construct bridge deck at North Rd and piling at McKinnon Rd. North and McKinnon Rds closed, together with the rail line.
Thurs 11 Feb - Tues 16 Feb: Centre Rd closed - presumably piling works
Thurs 3 Mar - Mon 7 Mar (3 days): McKinnon and Centre Rds closed, together with rail line, for 'services, signalling, and overhead works'.
Thurs 24 Mar - Fri 1 Apr (8 days): McKinnon and Centre Rds closed over Easter, together with rail line, to construct bridge decks.
Sometime in 'early to mid 2016' (sic) Ormond, McKinnon, and Bentleigh stations will be closed and bus services provided. The line will be closed for 5 weeks in June/July 2016. The project will be completed in late 2016.
Note that they are still being very cagey about exactly when the three stations will be closed and how long they will be closed for. My suspicion is that they'll be closed for a significant period of time. If I had to guess, I'd suspect that McKinnon will close when they change back to the Down/Centre lines in early 2016 (as it now lacks a workable platform on the Down line), with the other two stations closing in June with the big shut. The big shut will only see the concourse and platform structures constructed, with the station buildings and fit outs coming after the line has been reopened.