Level crossing removals trigger flying pigs

A few years ago removing Melbourne’s level crossings might have seemed like a “when pigs fly” idea, but today it is coming true – just with miniature police stations taking to the air, not pigs.

Piling rig and mobile crane in place on the western side of the St Albans work site

The miniature police stations in question are the blue and white “PSO pods” that have appeared at railway stations across Melbourne. Used by Protective Services Officers once they start duty at 6 PM every night, the buildings house a desk, kitchenette, and holding cell.

At St Albans station the PSO pod was located in the middle of platforms 2 and 3.

PSO pod on the platform at St Albans station

But with the rebuilding of the station as part of the Main Road level crossing removal project, the PSO pod had to be moved. First the services were disconnected.

PSO pod at St Albans station ready to be relocated, as part of the grade separation works

Then the foundations were dug out.

PSO pod at St Albans station ready to be relocated, as part of the grade separation works

A massive crane was brought in.

Crane getting ready to move the PSO pod at St Albans station, as part of the grade separation works

And the building was deposited on the opposite side of the tracks.

PSO pod at St Albans station, relocated to platform 1 to make room for the grade separation works

Leaving a hole where it used to sit.

Temporary fencing surrounds the former PSO pod location on St Albans platform 2 and 3

Similar works were required at Gardiner station as part of the grade separation of the Burke Road level crossing. The PSO pod was originally located on platform 2.

PSO pod on platform 2 at Gardiner station

But to make room for the new station, the pod was moved across the tracks to platform 1.

PSO pod at Gardiner station, relocated to platform 1 to make room for the grade separation works

Are they prefabricated?

The fact that PSO pods can be picked up in one piece and relocated is interesting, given they are not prefabricated – each pod is built on site.

PSO pod under construction at Auburn station

What is officially called a 'handover room' under construction on platform 1 at Essendon

PSO pod under construction on the platform at Keon Park

Lifting big things around active railway tracks is an expensive and disruptive operation – for this reason I’m willing to assume that building each PSO pod in situ is cheaper than shutting down a railway line to lift a prefabricated building into place.

Footnote

Looks like not all PSO pods are being moved when level crossing works come their way – at McKinnon they just put an excavator through the building and turned it into a pile of twisted scrap metal.

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