Tottenham Track Slew

Written by Dene Macleod

cr tott track 001

Location: Tottenham, Victoria

Client: Metro Trains Melbourne (MTM)

Role of Coleman Rail: Head Contractor

Project Summary: Construct Only; Brownfield Redevelopments; Specialist Rail Services; Complex Multidisciplinary; Freight & Heavy Haul; Metro

Project Overview

Undertaken to separate regional and metropolitan train services and make room for the future construction of a 40km twin track rail link from Southern Cross Station to West Werribee via Tarneit and Sunshine. When completed, the Regional Rail Link will provide rapid access to the City for Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo trains, which will also create extra capacity for metropolitan services on the existing Werribee, Watergardens and Craigieburn lines.

Project Scope

Coleman Rail provided a new suburban track alignment for RRL WP-C4 that included the following works:

  • Remove all trees from the embankment and along Sunshine Road
  • Lay new stormwater drainage along Sunshine Road boundary, connected into Stony Creek
  • Lay new track drainage, both along the track and under track crossings
  • Provide strengthening works for the existing ARTC bridge piers
  • Provide a soil nail retention system on both sides of the ARTC bridge (~80 lineal metres to the west, ~352 lineal metres to the east) complete with handrails, including a new handrail to existing retaining wall
  • Pour a concrete key slab extending from the front face of the existing wall
  • Realign existing suburban tracks to the north, over a distance of approx. 785m and renew formation
  • Install a conduit run and walkway on the north side of the new up track
  • Replace signals M395 and M376
  • Install signal troughing and under track crossings for future RRL works
  • Construct 10 new overhead structures.
  • Man Hours: 40,000+
  • Lost Time Injuries: 0
  • 16,000 tonne of material (base course, ballast, etc.) imported
  • 600+ different people inducted, plus 100+ pieces of plant
  • 2,600 sleepers laid
  • 500m³ of concrete poured
  • 6,000 lineal metres of soil nails drilled


The successful delivery of the project demonstrated that Coleman Rail’s systems and approach are effective for this type of work, evidenced firstly by getting early works underway without impacting normal train services; and secondly by managing the vast amount of work undertaken (and man hours required) leading up to and during the occupation. The fact that the Geotech Group operate predominantly with a large permanent direct labour workforce meant this work was completed without the need for extensive hired labour.


In total, Tottenham Track Slew was a 7 week program that included a 2-week occupation. Early civil works started on 2 June 2011 without disruption to normal train services and continued throughout the month of June in the lead-up to the July occupation. Night works (ALBF) were carried out over most weekends in June. Occupation of the entire site occurred from 2-17 July 2011, with train services resuming as planned on Monday, 18 July 2011: no small feat given the delays caused by underlying rock and asbestos.


A reasonably straight forward job was complicated by the constraints of the site (narrow rail corridor with limited access from just one side) and a live rail running except during occupation. To help mitigate this as a major OH&S risk, a fence was erected along both sides of the track to act as a clear and visible delineation for the drivers, which when combined with the use of L3 safe-working coordinators and L2 flagmen, enabled early works to occur. Track crossings were limited to two areas, manned at all times by Level 3’s and no plant could cross the track without first clearing height protection measures.


A large amount of asbestos was found in the embankment on both sides of the ARTC bridge, which had the very real potential to stop the job and extend the occupation. As per the Environmental Management Plan (EMP), works immediately ceased in the affected area and an exclusion zone was created, an industrial hygienist engaged and a plan prepared for works to continue and ensure the remainder of the site was unaffected. In the end contaminated material was stockpiled on site in two exclusion zones, which allowed works to continue with minimal impact and loss of time.


Environmental challenges on this project were numerous, but effectively controlled. The removal of trees did not cause any erosion issues and the impact of any sediment and/or contaminate runoff was negated via controls such as stockpiling material more than 50m away from the creek; the use of signed & bunded wash down areas; the use of hay/mulch to control any run-offs; and the installation of an erosion control mat at the base of the new retaining walls and batter.


A number of design changes were made to ensure the project was completed on time. For instance, in lieu of removing the existing formation, the existing material was lime stabilised to achieve specified CBR & compaction, which saved considerable time. This also reduced the risk exposure of any 'soft spots' and the impact of heavy rainfall. Another example concerned strengthening works to the existing ARTC bridge piers. To save valuable time during occupation, these walls were shotcreted, a technique that enabled trackworks to commence some 48 hours earlier than anticipated.

Stakeholder Impact

Although there was disruption and extended travel times for some stakeholders, the feedback received about the closure was overall very positive, a great endorsement of the efforts and collaboration between the stakeholders involved. The work by Coleman Rail contributed immensely to this. The project was viewed as such a success in terms of community and stakeholder relations that it was used as a guide on how to handle community issues in WP-F and the wider RRL Project.

Facts & Figures

Coleman Rail Contact Person: Chris Morralee