Following the removal of 4 level crossings from Melbourne’s north earlier this year – including one of the city’s most congested at Bell Street in Preston – 2 new architecturally designed stations are set to open to passengers in coming weeks.
Trains will stop at the new Preston and Bell stations on Monday 5 September, with passengers looking forward to better facilities including comfortable waiting rooms, undercover seating areas and improved lighting.
The stations will rejuvenate the area for locals and create safer and more direct links between public transport, local shops and parking.
As the gateway to Preston’s shopping district, the design of Preston Station incorporates the liveliness of the area, with the bright coloured façade echoing the vivid colours of produce that can be found at Preston Market. At Bell Station, the external wall patterns reflect Preston’s rich history with references to post-war roof tops and the local art and culture scene.
Trains will also start running on a second elevated rail track on Monday 5 September, with the new rail bridge currently nearing completion. Since May, trains on the Mernda line have been running on a single elevated track between Regent and Thornbury stations and running express through Bell and Preston stations.
As the construction team connects the new section of rail track to the existing line, buses will replace trains on sections of the Mernda line from 9pm Friday 26 August to last service Sunday 4 September.
Over the coming months, work will begin on the new open space under the rail line in Preston, which will be ready next year, featuring play and exercise areas and gathering spaces.
The open space will include landscaped areas with more than 700 trees and around 150,000 grasses, shrubs and groundcover plants, and a shared walking and cycling path to connect the new Preston and Bell stations. The landscaping work will be completed by Wamarra, an Aboriginal owned and operated civil contractor based in Victoria, who will complete installation of grasses, mulch and plants, as well as walls, concrete and seating.
Both new stations are being built with sustainability front of mind, with 132 solar panels on the roof of Preston Station, saving the station from emitting around 3600 tonnes of CO2-e (carbon dioxide equivalent) over its lifetime. This is equal to taking around 780 cars off the road for a year. At Bell Station, the smaller of the two, 62 solar panels will be installed.
When the new stations open, lifts and stairs will be operational at Preston Station, however while work continues on the lifts at Bell Station, passengers requiring lift access will need to travel to Thornbury or Preston. An accessible taxi will be available at these stations for passengers to complete their journey. The lifts at Bell Station will be operational in late September.