Boom times for Bedford Road level crossing

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Be it horse and wagons or station wagons, Bedford Road's dangerous and congested level crossing has been causing traffic headaches for more than 130 years.

Now, the busy Ringwood level crossing is history, with trains now running through a 380m rail trench under Bedford Road.

Safety at the Bedford Road crossing has been a concern since the rail line between Ringwood and Upper Ferntree Gully opened in 1889, with newspaper archives revealing multiple accidents and near misses at the site, which also served as a stock crossing for animals being taken to the weekly Ringwood Market.

In July 1909, The Herald reported the death of Arthur Bertram Williams, 60, killed when he attempted to cross ahead of a train with his horse and cart. A witness living nearby described the unsupervised crossing as “extremely dangerous”, not just to human life, but also livestock, having previously witnessed 2 cows killed at the crossing.

Debate about the crossing’s safety intensified with the electrification of the rail line in October 1925. Wig-wags – a swinging signal with a red light and bell – were installed soon after electrification, upgraded to flashing lights in October 1962.

It was another 2 decades before boom gates and pedestrian barriers were installed to improve safety for the hundreds of students attending nearby schools and the thousands of motorists passing through the crossing each day.

A team of more than 200 workers worked 24/7 since the end of January to remove the boom gates and lower the rail line by building a new road deck and digging 226 holes up to 12m deep to form the walls of the trench, reinforced with 610 cubic metres of concrete.

Separating trains and vehicles will end frustrating delays for the 13,500 motorists that used the crossing daily and create a safer way for pedestrians to cross the line.

With the road open and rail services now running, crews will start landscaping the new green community space and building a shared use path alongside the rail trench to connect the Heathmont Rail Trail to Bedford Park.

Level Crossing Removal Bedford Road, Ringwood