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

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3 Responses to “Then, now and in between on Bell Street, Coburg”

  1. Andrew says:

    The single Coburg platform is news to me and interesting.

    I don’t know if it still happens but in spite of there being two platforms, the city bound train at Sunshine Station uses the same platform as as the outward bound train. You know who did not bother to check and missed a train when it pulled into the down platform while I waited on the up platform.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      That might have been during trackwork or a disruption, with trains turning back the way they came – normally Sunshine has two platforms for suburban trains, and two for V/Line trains.

  2. […] That station building is still there today, but the tracks are not – a new elevated station was built on the site in 2020, removing the Bell Street level crossing. […]

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