Infrastructure inspection trains of Victoria

Across Victoria there are a number of specialised rail vehicles used to inspect the tracks for faults – so let’s take a look at them.

Track evaluation vehicle IEV100

IEV100 is a track evaluation vehicle that traverses the Victorian railway network to test track quality. Self propelled with a diesel engine, and with the option to use standard or broad gauge bogies, this Plasser & Theurer EM100 track recorder was acquired by V/Line in the 1980s, passing to VicTrack following privatisation the 1990s.

EM100 running through Southern Cross Station on the down goods lines

It was then overhauled by Metro Trains Melbourne in 2012, with the original mechanical measurement wheels being replaced by a modern non-contact laser measurement system.

IEV100 on the up suburban lines at West Footscray

IEV100 was once capable of measuring the overhead contract wires, but the pantograph was removed around 2015.

IEV100 on the up suburban lines at West Footscray

Overhead inspection carriage IEV102

IEV102 is an overhead inspection carriage used across the Melbourne suburban network, converted from a retired V/Line passenger carriage in 2010, following a spate of overhead wire failures.

T377 leads T369 and the inspection carriage towards Flinders Street Station from Richmond

From a glass cupola atop the carriage, staff and video cameras onboard the carriage monitor how the pantograph tracks along the overhead wire.

Lead pantograph raised for the inspection run

Initially the carriage was hauled around the network by a pair of Metro Trains Melbourne’s T class locomotives, but from 2018 Southern Shorthaul Railroad took over the job.

T385 leads P18 through Footscray on an inspection run bound for Werribee

In October 2021 further changes happened, when a laser instrumented pantograph was installed atop the carriage, automating the collection of data.

New laser instrumented pantograph atop overhead inspection vehicle IEV102

‘AK’ track recording cars

The AK cars are a set of three specially equipped ex-NSWGR carriages fitted out for track inspection purposes. They are operated by the Australian Rail Track Corporation over their standard gauge lines behind hired motive power a few times each year.

GM27 leads GM22 on the down at Tottenham

Video cameras are mounted to the front of the train.

Both video cameras now in place on 8224

Wide inspection windows at the end of each carriage.

8135 leads the up AK cars working through Sunshine towards the Tottenham Triangle

Laser track measurement equipment beneath one of the carriages.

Laser measurement equipment beneath carriage AK 2383

And an accommodation carriage for the crew on their long journey across Australia.

Accommodation car AK 2384

Evaluation vehicle EV120 ‘Evie’

EV120 is a Geismar model RB2214TM locomotive hauled track and overhead inspection vehicle for the Victorian broad gauge rail network, acquired in 2021 to replace overhead inspection carriage IEV102 and track inspection vehicle IEV100.

Pantograph and roof view of the 'B' end of EV120

It has laser track measurement equipment attached to each bogie.

Laser track measurement equipment fitted to the A end of EV120

A pantograph on the roof.

Track inspection equipment and pantograph at the B end of EV120

And forward facing camera fitted to locomotives that haul it.

Forward facing camera fitted to the nose of P18 during the inspection run

Southern Shorthaul Railroad currently provides diesel locomotives and crews to haul it around the network.

P18 leads EV120 and P16 through Middle Footscray on a down inspection run to Sunbury

Ultrasonic rail flaw detection

Speno Rail Maintenance Australia operates a fleet of hi-rail Ultrasonic rail flaw detection trucks, which appear in Victoria from time to time.

Speno ultrasonic rail tester truck FL17 and accompanying hi-rail 4WD on the goods line at Brooklyn

The hi-rail truck tows an ultrasonic sensor array, scanning the steel rails for microscopic flaws.

Sensor array deployed at the rear of the ultrasonic rail testing truck

With a second crew following behind to mark any issues with paint.

Speno crew mark flawed rails with paint following the passage of the ultrasonic rail flaw detector

LIDAR and ground penetrating radar

In 2019 and 2020 V/Line completed an ad-hoc survey of their network using a variety of hired test equipment strapped to a surplus diesel locomotive.

P12 on arrival at Southern Cross Station

The first survey used LIDAR measure equipment, a NovAtel GPS receiver, and 360 degree camera equipment to create a digital map of the network.

LIDAR, NovAtel GPS receiver, and 360 degree camera equipment mounted to the front of P12

And was followed up by a ground penetrating radar system supplied by Zetica Rail to measure trackbed condition, including ballast depth, fouling and roughness.

Zetica Rail ground penetrating radar equipment fitted to the end of P15

Further reading

More photos

Then, now and in between on Bell Street, Coburg

I’ve done a few “then, now and in between” posts in recent months, and here is another one – the Bell Street level crossing in Coburg.

PROV image VPRS 12800/P0003, ADV 0478

We start off in the 1960s, when hand operated gates were still in place to separate motorists and trains.

PROV image VPRS 12800/P0001 H 2980

They remained in place until 1962, when they were replaced by boom barriers – activated automatically for citybound trains, and manually by the signal box for trains headed towards Upfield.

Google Street View 2014

In December 2014 the Victorian Government announced they would remove 50 level crossings around Melbourne, including the one on Bell Street in Coburg. By October 2018 elevating the railway line was the preferred solution, with contracts signed in October 2019, with early works starting in February 2020.

A three month shutdown of the Upfield line commenced in July 2020, to allow the construction of a 2.5 kilometre rail bridge, consisting of 268 L-beams, 53 crossheads and 49 precast piers, assembled by two 90-tonne gantry cranes. The boom gates were the first to go.

LXRA photo

With a full road closure in August allowing the bridge beams to be lifted into place over Bell Street.

LXRA photo

Trains returned to the Upfield line in November, with the new elevated Coburg station opening to passengers in December 2020.

Google Street View 2020

With the finishing touches – landscaping works – completed by August 2021.

A reverse view

Here is the opposite view of the 1962 scene, looking westbound along Bell Street in Coburg – PROV image VPRS 12800/P0001 H 2979.

And a platform related footnote

For many years Coburg was an oddity on the Melbourne suburban network – a single platform station located in the middle of a double track railway.

Weston Langford photo, 1989

Coburg station opened as the terminus of a single track railway from North Melbourne in 1884, the line being extended north to Somerton in 1889, and duplicated from the city in 1891.

It took until 1959 for the line north of Coburg to be duplicated, but only as far as Fawkner, and Coburg didn’t receive a second platform to serve it. Instead northbound trains would change onto the citybound track to use the platform on the east side, then cross back again before Batman station.

Victoria Railways signal diagram, 1972

A situation not rectified until 1995, when a second platform was built on the side of the disused goods yard.

Siemens train on a down Upfield service at Coburg station

Further reading

Pilots confusing Essendon Airport for Melbourne Airport

Over the years there have been many examples of pilots confusing one airport for another, and Melbourne has seen more than it’s fair share – thanks to Melbourne Tullamarine Airport being located near Essendon Airport.

Google Earth

14 January 2014
Air India flight AI301
Boeing 787-8 VT-ANM

From the Carry-on blog.

Operating AI301 from Sydney to Melbourne VT-ANM approached and crossed Melbourne from the east following usual tracking paths for aircraft inbound from the north-east to YMML’s active Runway 34.

The flight crew initiated a right turn to lining up for Essendon’s Runway 35 mistaking it for YMML’s Runway 34.

Sources in Airservices Australia confirm the flight crew discontinued the approach at roughly 1,050 ft after being notified by Melbourne Approach, made a left turn, climbed to 1,500 ft and re-established a second approach this time to Runway 34.

The missed approach is easy to see on the flight track.

FlightAware flight tracking log

31 March 1994
Australian Airlines
Boeing 737-300 VH-TJA

Note: not the same 737 as this incident

From the ATSB investigation.

At about 18 NM from Melbourne, the crew were requested by air traffic control to report when the Melbourne runway was in sight. The crew reported they had that runway in sight and were cleared to track to join final inside 8 NM from Melbourne.

The crew requested and were given further track shortening until they were instructed to make a visual approach for runway 34 and to call Melbourne Tower. The Approach Controller then diverted his attention to other duties for a short period.

On rechecking the progress of the aircraft it appeared, to him, to be on final for runway 35 at Essendon. The aircraft was at an altitude of approximately 1500 feet. The Approach Controller advised Melbourne Tower who instructed the aircraft to turn left for Melbourne. The aircraft subsequently landed without further incident.

The flight crew subsequently advised that when they were given the visual approach they believed they had the Melbourne Airport in sight and its position was confirmed by checking the map displayed on the aircraft flight management computer. However, they had not used any other aircraft navigational systems to confirm their position in relation to Melbourne.

24 February 1991
Boeing 747-400 D-ABTC

From the ATSB investigation.

The aircraft, which was approaching Melbourne Airport from the west, was radar vectored onto base leg and descended to 3000 feet.

At 1704 hours Melbourne Approach Control advised the crew that their position was nine miles south-west of the field. They were asked to advise when they had the runway in sight and also to say when the runway 34 lead in strobe lights were sighted.

Shortly after, the crew responded that they had the runway and strobe lights in sight. Approach Control gave the crew their position as six miles south-west of the field, told them to make a visual approach and not to descend below one thousand five hundred feet until established on final.

At 1706 hours the controller told the crew they were approaching the runway extended centre line. The Approach Controller noted that the aircraft was passing through the extended centre line and had not turned to line up with runway 34. He promptly issued instructions to the aircraft to climb to 2000 feet. At about the same stage the crew realised that the runway they had been looking at was too short for their operations and also decided to go around. Further radar vectors were given and the aircraft subsequently landed normally on runway 34 at Melbourne without any other problems.

Runway 35 at Essendon Airport was the runway sighted by the pilots. It does not have lead in strobe lights. The crew indicated they must have seen reflections near Essendon which they mistook for strobe lights.

On the approach the crew had seen a runway from a long way out, which they thought was the north/south runway for Melbourne Airport, but was in fact runway 35 at Essendon Airport. In the lighting conditions at the time they did not see Melbourne Airport, until on the go around.

On the approach the minimum height descended to was just over 1000 feet above the elevation of Essendon Airport.

8 August 1987
Singapore Airlines flight SQ31A
Boeing 747-200, 9V-SQM

From the ATSB investigation.

On arrival in the Melbourne area the aircraft was vectored by Air Traffic Control (ATC) to a left base position for an approach to runway 34.

At a point 5 nautical miles (9.2 kilometres) south of the airport, and 1 mile (1.7 kilometres) to the left of the extended centreline of the runway, the aircraft was instructed to turn left to take up a north-easterly heading. The crew reported at this time that “we have the field visual.”

The aircraft was then instructed to make a visual approach, and to turn further left for a direct approach to the runway. The crew acknowledged this instruction, but the aircraft was observed to pass through the extended centreline. ATC advised the aircraft that it was now to the right of the centreline, and instructed it to turn left onto a north-westerly heading to intercept this line. The aircraft landed without further incident.

The Captain of the aircraft later advised that he was familiar with the Melbourne/Essendon area. Appropriate navigation aids had been selected to monitor the approach.

The Captain reported that he had initially mistaken Essendon for Melbourne, because the latter had been obscured by rain and low clouds. However, the crew became suspicious when the navigation aids did not confirm the visual indications. They were in the process of correcting the situation when ATC instructed the aircraft to turn to the left as it had passed the extended centreline. The crew had then sighted the Melbourne runway complex and had proceeded visually.

13 May 1987
Air New Zealand
Boeing 767-200ER, ZK-NBC

From the ATSB investigation.

The aircraft was radar-vectored for an approach to Melbourne (Tullamarine) Runway 34. The flight crew reported they were “visual” when at 2000 feet and about 17 kilometres (9 nautical miles [nm]) south east of Melbourne.

The Approach Controller advised the flight of its radar position in relation to Melbourne and requested confirmation that the crew had Runway 34 in sight. When this was acknowledged, instructions were given for the flight to take up a heading of 320 degrees; to intercept the extended centre line of Runway 34 from this heading; and to make a visual approach.

Shortly afterwards the Tower Controller at Essendon Airport (5 nm south east of Melbourne) called the Melbourne Approach Controller and reported that a heavy aircraft was on approach for (Runway 35) Essendon.

The Approach Controller called the aircraft, requested its present altitude and, on being advised it was “through fifteen hundred” (feet), instructed the flight to climb to 2000 feet and turn left onto a heading of 320 degrees. He also advised that the aircraft was 7 nm south east of Melbourne and still two miles to the right of the runway centre line.

Shortly afterwards, the flight crew reported they were at 2000 feet and had “Runway 34 Melbourne in sight”. The aircraft was then cleared for a straight in approach and for transfer to the tower frequency. The aircraft landed without further incident.

The flight crew have confirmed that they initially turned towards Essendon but detected their error at about the time the Approach Controller instructed them to turn (back) to 320 degrees and to climb.

30 December 1985
Qantas flight QF36
Boeing 767-200, VH-EAJ

From the ATSB investigation.

Air Traffic Control of the aircraft was being exercised by Melbourne Approach, which was directing the aircraft for a landing on Runway 27 at Tullamarine. The controller obtained approval from the Essendon controllers to vector QF36 through Essendon airspace.

The aircraft was progressively descended and when clearing the aircraft to descend to 2000 feet the controller advised the crew that the aircraft was 4 miles to the left of the runway extended centre line. The crew advised that they had visual contact with the ground and were then cleared to continue a visual approach.

Shortly afterwards, the crew sighted a runway and commenced a turn to the left, during which visibility reduced as the aircraft entered a rain shower.

On passing through the shower, the crew immediately realised that they had turned towards Essendon, and a right turn was carried out to continue tracking towards Tullamarine.

When the premature turn was commenced, it was observed on radar by the Approach controller and visually by both the Melbourne and Essendon Tower controllers. The Approach controller queried the aircraft intentions at about the same time as the crew commenced the turn back towards Tullamarine.

A normal landing was carried out about 3 minutes later.

19 June 1985
Garuda flight GA898
Boeing 747-200, PK-GSB

From the ATSB investigation.

Garuda Flight 898, was being radar vectored by Melbourne Air Traffic Control (ATC) for a landing on runway 34 at Tullamarine Airport. Shortly after the pilot acknowledged an instruction to call Melbourne Tower the aircraft was seen to turn and descend as though making an approach to runway 35 at Essendon Airport.

The Melbourne Tower controller instructed the aircraft to climb to 3000 feet above mean sea level (AMSL), and a few seconds later the aircraft was seen to be established in this climb. After further radar vectors were given, an uneventful landing was carried out at Melbourne.

It was subsequently determined that the aircraft had descended to a minimum height of approximately 350 feet above the level of Essendon Airport, and was about 1.5 kilometres from the runway threshold before the climb was commenced.

So why is it confusing?

Until the 1960s Essendon Airport was Melbourne’s main international gateway.

But today it is mainly used by business jets and light aircraft.

DC3 among parked planes at Essendon Airport

But mid-sized jets such as the Fokker F70 can also safely operate into the airport.

Light plane passes over parked Alliance Airlines Fokker F70 VH-QQR

From the 1,921 metre long east-west and 1,504 metre long north-south runways.

Google Earth

Which just so happen to be a similar orientation to the 2,286 metre long east-west and 3,657 metre long north-south runways at Melbourne Tullamarine.

Google Earth

This similarity has been noted by ATSB investigators.

There have been a number of instances where Essendon has been mistaken for Melbourne. The two airports are in close proximity and have similar runway configurations. In this instance the flight crew members were not very familiar with the Melbourne area or with the approach to Runway 34.

Who recommended the following back in 1987.

It is recommended that consideration be given to the following

– 1 Operators briefing the relevant flight crews on the real possibility of misidentifying the two airports.
– 2 Operators instructing flight crew to make full use of available radio aids on visual approaches to Melbourne.
– 3 The Department of Aviation providing visual and/or radio aids to assist ready identification of Runway 34, such as sequenced strobe lights leading to the threshold and/or an instrument approach facility to the south of the airport.

The largest aircraft ever to land at Essendon Airport were a handful of Boeing 707s back in the 1960s – I’d hate to see what would happen to a Boeing 747 that tried to do the same.

Spot the difference

One spotting feature is the different strobe lights pattern at each airport – Essendon Airport’s beacon flashes white every four seconds – Melbourne Airport’s beacon flashes alternate white/green.

While the aerodrome charts also feature a warning – “WARNING: Secondary airport (Essendon) 5NM south-east”.

Airservices Australia – Aerodrome Charts

And Melbourne Airport runway 34 now has a distinctive identifier – three sets of sequenced white strobe lights commencing 485 metres from the end of the runway, and aligned with runway 34 centreline.

Airservices Australia – Aerodrome Charts

Footnote: freeway confusion

A hazard for pilots landing at Essendon Airport at night is the freeways that surround the airport.

Tullamarine Freeway at English Street

An issue raised by the ATSB in a 2017 investigation.

The airport has two runways aligned 17/35 and 08/26, and it is bounded on two sides by freeways with substantial amber lighting and well-lit residential areas. At night, the lights around the airport present a complex picture. The published aerodrome chart had a caution note describing that amber freeway lighting may confuse flight crews when attempting to identify runway 08/26 lighting.

Computer confusion too

On 10 March 2015 an AirAsia flight from Sydney to Malaysia ended up having to divert to Melbourne when the pilot entered the wrong initial coordinates into the inertial navigation system.

And some unsourced stories

I found this story online referring a supposed incident around 1996.

About 5 years ago I was flying in the circuit in a little PA-28 at Moorabbin. It appeared to me that there was a B747 on long final. My flight instructor flicked the freq to Melbourne International, and sure enough, Alitalia 747 was lined up on the Moorabbin runway (which is less than 1.6 km long!) and complaining that he had visual but his navaids were all wrong. Melbourne Airport cleared him for a visual landing but then cancelled the clearance when they saw where he was on radar!

And this one from the 1970s.

They were also aware of anecdotal accounts of a DC-10 lining up to land on the Essendon runway sometime in the 70s, and being warned off at the last minute.

Further reading

On the train to Flemington for Melbourne Cup Day

Today is Horse Slaughter Day, so let’s jump on a train to Flemington Racecourse.

X'Trapolis 35M arrives into Flemington Racecourse platform 1

On the train

Trains start at Flinders Street Station.

Flemington Races service on the next train displays at Flinders Street platform 9

First stop Southern Cross.

Melbourne Cup crowd exits the train at Southern Cross

Then North Melbourne.

X'Trapolis 78M arrives into North Melbourne on a down race special

Then takes the high level tracks towards the Craigieburn line.

Siemens on a down Showgrounds special passes N474 stabled in the V/Line arrivals roads at North Melbourne

Passing over Moonee Ponds Creek.

X'Trapolis train crosses Moonee Ponds Creek on an empty car move from Flemington Racecourse

Trains to the Showgrounds and Flemington Racecourse run express through Kensington and Newmarket stations.

'Trains to the Showgrounds and Flemington Racecourse do not stop here' sign at Kensington station

Where they branch off from the Craigieburn line.

X'Trapolis 17M rejoins the main line at Newmarket with an up race special

Heading past the Showgrounds.

Looking over the rostrum signal box and ticket office at Showgrounds station

Until they reach Flemington Racecourse.

X'Trapolis 232M departs Flemington Racecourse platform 2 minus passengers on Melbourne Cup day

Where you can make your way to the track.

Myki readers lead to Flemington Racecourse platform 1

Past a massive bank of Myki readers.

A bank of 18 myki FPDs at one exit of Flemington Racecourse platform 2

Because everything seems to go wrong

A whole lot of drunks onboard a train are a recipe for disaster.

So Victoria Police and Authorised Officers keep an eye on the situation.

Victoria Police and Authorised Officers waiting at Flemington Racecourse platform 2

Armed with a supply of vomit bags.

Stash of vomit bags waiting at Flemington Racecourse station on Melbourne Cup day

As a high profile event it’s also a magnet for protests. On Melbourne Cup Day 2017 refugee activists abandoned a car on the tracks in order to stop trains.

ABC News photo

So in the years that followed Metro Trains staff and a backhoe loader keep an eye on the Ascot Vale Road level crossing.

Metro Trains staff and a backhoe loader keep an eye on the Ascot Vale Road level crossing

Equipment failures can also cause problems, such as Oaks Day 2008 when equipment failures shut down trains, stranding thousands of passengers.

The Age photo

So to avoid a occurrence, signalling and track gangs are now on standby, ready to respond.

Metro Trains signals and track gangs on standby at Newmarket

But the weather is always a hazard, with trains stopped in 2018 thanks to flash flooding.

Metro Trains Melbourne photo

Which required an expensive fix – digging up the tracks to install an upgraded drainage system.

Loading the spoil train with the contents of Flemington Racecourse platform 2

And what about the rest of the year?

The railway to the racecourse doesn’t sit empty all year – trains also serve minor race meets at Flemington.

Alstom Comeng at the Flemington Racecourse platform after running a race special

Running from platform 8 at Southern Cross Station.

Life extension EDI Comeng 472M arrives into Southern Cross platform 8 with an Oktoberfest special from the Showgrounds

And empty trains also stable along the line outside of peak times.

EDI Comeng stabled for the weekend at Flemington Racecourse

A second life during major works

Flemington Racecourse has also used as a interchange location for rail replacement buses during major works, such as the Regional Rail Link project back in 2011.

Temporary stairs from the bus interchange to the platform at Flemington Racecourse

Temporary steps linking the platform and bus interchange.

Passengers head down to the Flemington Racecourse platform from the bus interchange

Where a fleet of buses was waiting.

Still more buses up at the Flemington Racecourse interchange

And unexpected visitors

Finally, the Flemington Racecourse line is a popular destination for railfan tours, such as this 1999 outing with the restored Tait set.

Weston Langford photo

In 2009 steam locomotive R707 paid a visit on a 707 Operations mystery tour of suburbia.

R707 simmering away in the Flemington Racecourse platform

I visited Flemington in 2012 aboard railcar RM58 on a tour run by DERMPAV.

Changing ends again, this time at Flemington Racecourse

And Steamrail Victoria visited in 2013 with steam locomotive K153.

Flemington Racecourse, with not long to go for the semaphore signals

But that isn’t the only unusual visitors to the line – diesel locomotives have used the line to assist during trackwork.

B75 with T386 on a push-pull spoil train at Flemington Racecourse

And finally in 2020 I found a High Capacity Metro Train waiting at Flemington Racecourse – completing testing before their entry to service.

HCMT set 3 on arrival at Flemington Racecourse

Footnote: some history

The Flemington Racecourse line was opened by the Melbourne and Essendon Railway Company in February 1861, as a branch from their railway to Essendon.

The company failed three years later, with the railway laying idle until 1867 when it was taken over by the Victorian Railways and reopened.

The line was electrified in 1918 for testing of Melbourne’s brand new electric trains, with the first train running in October 1918.

PROV image VPRS 12800/P0001 H 2547

Photos from ten years ago: October 2011

Another instalment in my photos from ten years ago series – this time it is October 2011.

A land before COVID

Remember peak hour crowds at CBD railway stations? I wrote about it a decade ago, and ended up in The Age.

Morning peak at Flagstaff: I'm sure if you stood here from 0845 until 0900 you'd see queues like this rise and fall multiple times

In the years since much faster ticket readers by Vix have been deployed at busy stations, but for the past 18 months they’ve been barely used – COVID has cratered patronage.

How about the days when the AFL Grand Final was held in Melbourne? Back in 2011 Collingwood and Geelong were playing, with V/Line running extra trains from Geelong to transports Cats fans to the big game.

P12 leads an 8-car push-pull grand final football special from Geelong at Spotswood

V/Line retired their fleet of P class locomotives in 2017, selling them to freight operator Southern Shorthaul Railroad in 2019, and thanks to COVID both the 2020 and 2021 AFL Grand Finals were held interstate.

October also used to be when the Royal Melbourne Show was held, with trains to Showgrounds station to transporting the crowds.

Siemens trains arrives into Showgrounds station

The show has been cancelled for two consecutive years thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the site turned over to a COVID-19 testing site and vaccination hub.

Changes on the railways

Ginifer used to be a station located at ground level.

Siemens arriving into Ginifer on the up

Flowers placed beside the pedestrian crossing, following yet another person being struck and killed by a train.

Flowers near Ginifer station after the latest fatality, the pedestrian crossing is at the down end of the platforms

And I found more flowers beside a second pedestrian crossing closer to St Albans.

Willis Street pedestrian crossing at the down end of Ginifer, and more flowers

After years of lobbying by local residents, in 2015 level crossings grade separated and new stations were built at Ginifer and St Albans, but there was one omission – the pedestrian crossing between them was left behind.

And finally down in the shadows of Docklands, I found freight wagons being shunted ready for another trip down the Frankston line.

Shunting steel wagons of an afternoon, G531 at the Melbourne Steel Terminal

The entire freight yard was relocated in 2015 to make way for the E-Gate urban renewal project, but the land has since been co-opted by the West Gate ‘Tunnel’ Project, to be covered by a tangle of freeway ramps.

Build it up

At 199 William Street the long abandoned skyscraper was seeing some activity.

Work on the display suite for "The William" development

Redeveloped as ‘The William‘ the lower floors are the Wyndham Hotel Melbourne, with apartments above.

Out at Melbourne Airport, work was well underway on a new air traffic control tower.

New and old control towers at Melbourne Airport

The 75 metre tall tower was built at a cost of $19 million, and took over from the 1970s facility next door in 2014.

Outside of Geelong, work on the $78 million final stage of the Geelong Ring Road was almost complete, with a 4.6 kilometre extension from Anglesea Road at Waurn Ponds to Pettavel Road.

New alignment for the Princess Highway at Waurn Ponds

It opened to motorists in 2013, and was followed in 2016 by the $164 million Princes Highway West duplication 25 kilometres from Waurn Ponds to Winchelsea.

A nice change from endless road projects was a brand new rail freight terminal at Spotswood.

Railway loading side of the Sadleirs Logistics warehouse

Operated by Sadleirs Logistics, the terminal sees freight trains daily.

Changes were afoot on the railway towards Sunbury – electrification works were underway

P14 leads a push-pull set out of Sydenham bound for Sunbury

The $270 million project extended suburban train services from Watergardens to Diggers Rest and Sunbury stations, allowing the retirement of the dedicated V/Line services to Sunbury from November 2012.

And the first extension of the suburban rail network in decades – 3.5 kilometres from Epping to South Morang.

Overhead stanchions in place at Pindari Avenue

When I visited the civil works were mostly complete, with ballast being dropped along the freshly laid track.

Looking up the line to the ballast train at South Morang, stabled atop the crossovers for the station

The extended line opened to passengers in April 2012, and cleared the way for a further extension of the railway – 8 kilometres north to Mernda, completed in August 2018.

And tear it down

Between Lonsdale and Little Bourke Street in the CBD there was a massive hole.

Overview of the Myer Melbourne demolition site

That was once occupied by Myer Melbourne.

Digging around at the Little Bourke Street end

The site was being cleared for the Emporium Melbourne shopping centre, completed in 2014, and which sits behind the facades of the former Myer store.

Over at the former RAAF Williams airfield in Laverton, I found a runway that wasn’t in very good shape.

End of runway 17 at the former RAAF Williams air force base

Last used in 1998, the site is now the suburb of Williams Landing.

On Buckley Street in Footscray I found a row of abandoned houses, with windows boarded up.

148 Buckley Street finally vacated

Compulsorily acquired for the Regional Rail Link project, the remaining sliver of land is now occupied by townhouses.

While beside the West Gate Freeway another abandoned building was being demolished – the former West Gate Bridge toll plaza.

Strongroom door stands amid the rubble

Made redundant in 1985 following removal of tolls on the bridge, VicRoads retained the site as a conference centre before selling it to a developer in 2010. The site is now the Expressway Business Park.

Things that are gone

Remember yellow ‘Bumblebee’ trams?

C2.5106 'Bumblebee 4' westbound on route 96 at Bourke Street and Hardware Lane

By 2014 the bee themed decals were looking rather tatty, so the trams were repainted into the standard Public Transport Victoria livery.

How about the mX newspaper?

"Looking for a girl with Myki trouble" - you need to be a bit more specific!

Handed out free to homeward bound commuters at CBD railway stations, readership declined thanks to the rise of smartphones, with the final edition published on 12 June 2015.

And the food court at Southern Cross?

Mostly abandoned food court at Southern Cross: only two Asian food stalls remain

It was located on the mezzanine floor at the Collins Street end, and overlooked the country platforms.

Tables along the food court at the Collins Street end

The food court closed in November 2011 to make way for a redevelopment of the food and retail outlets at the station, with a Woolworths Metro supermarket now occupying the site.

And things that are the same

Marketing stalls blocking the main entrance to Melbourne Central Station? Still there!

Time to dodge the marketing stalls blocking the main entrance to Melbourne Central Station!

Waiting 20 minutes for a train on the Craigieburn line after 6pm? Still there!

Waiting 20 minutes for a train on the Craigieburn line after 6pm? You'd think this was a joke...

‘Smartbuses’ stuck in traffic in the Melbourne CBD? Still there!

So-called 'Smartbuses' stuck in traffic at Lonsdale and William Street

And something foreboding?

Outside Melbourne Central Station I found a line of people dressed in Tyvek coveralls.

More promotional crap getting in the way at Melbourne Central Station

But they weren’t testing patients at a COVID exposure site – but handing out marketing junk for the 2011 film ‘Contagion’.


Here you can find the rest of my ‘photos from ten years ago‘ series.