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It may be that nothing can stop Toto's soft-rock track Rosanna getting stuck in our heads whenever we hear it, but at least our trains will no longer get stuck because of a fault on the single track south of Rosanna station.
Preliminary work to duplicate the bottleneck between Rosanna and Heidelberg, which plays havoc with the Hurstbridge line timetable and even with South Morang services, began today.
Residents of this sleepy pocket of Melbourne's north-east will have to live with some disruption and construction noise between later this year when work begins in earnest and 2019 when it's done, but will have a more reliable rail service afterwards.
The single track corridor is narrow, with houses on either side, but Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said when announcing the start of geotechnical drilling works beside the line that it could be duplicated without any property acquisition.
"It can be done within the reserve as it is there now … and that points to the fact that this should have been done many years ago," Mr Andrews said.
The project will involve duplicating the rail bridge above Burgundy Street, and either duplicating the old red brick rail tunnel beneath Darebin Street or demolishing it for a brand new tunnel.
Kevin Devlin, chief executive of the Level Crossing Removal Authority, said that was yet to be determined.
The $140 million project was funded in last month's state budget, however Metro Trains estimated in its 2013 strategic operations plan that it would cost between $100 million and $110 million.
"The existence of a single line section between Heidelberg and Rosanna stations limits the capacity of the line between Clifton Hill and Eltham and is a source of unreliability on the whole Clifton Hill Group," Metro said at the time.
Metro's plan was submitted to Public Transport Victoria, but Mr Andrews said it was the lobbying of local Labor MPs that ensured the project was funded.
"Local members can be very, very proud of this," Mr Andrews said. "This has been one of those issues where myself, the minister for Public Transport, the Treasurer and others have been very passionately lobbied and it is fair to say that without the work of Anthony Carbines, without the work of Vicki Ward, we simply wouldn't have known how important this investment is."
The Hurstbridge line is littered with single track sections that curb the number of trains that can run per hour, including a stretch further north between Greensborough and Eltham. Mr Andrews said investigations were already under way into how that section could be duplicated also.
The 2015-16 budget also included more than $500 million to duplicate the Ballarat line between Deer Park and Melton, which will enable a huge boost in V/Line services to one of Melbourne's fastest growing regions.
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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