Traffic will be disrupted around Bellambi train station this weekend as the level crossing becomes the first in NSW to be fitted with rubber panels to improve safety and accessibility.
The VeloSTRAIL panels are made of hard-wearing rubber that sits against the edge of the rails. These panels cover the usual gaps between the tracks for people walking, pushing prams or wheeling bikes and scooters over the rails, but makes way as a train passes over it.
It will be initially installed as part of a three-month trial, with the Bellambi community invited to provide feedback.
NSW Transport Minister Jo Haylen said if the trial at Bellambi was successful, it would be rolled out to more stations across the state.
“At some stations, such as Bellambi, a level crossing forms part of the access path, and by closing the gap between the track rails and the pedestrian surface, we can begin to close the accessibility gap even further for more commuters,” she said.
“It will help us achieve our goal for all NSW train stations to be compliant with the requirements of the Disability Standards for accessible public transport.”
The rubber panels can also be removed and relaid for track maintenance, reducing the need to rip up and replace concrete and asphalt.
It follows the establishment of test sites in Coledale and Albion Park, away from stations, that assessed if the panels had any impact on train operations and the network.
VeloSTRAIL has been installed at more than 1000 sites across Europe, the US, New Zealand, Victoria and Queensland.
There will be changed traffic conditions at the level crossing on Bellambi Lane for installation work to be carried out between Francis Street and Brompton Road until 4 am on Monday 9 October.
The road will be closed to build footpaths, install new gates and install the VeloSTRAIL panels.
Detours and traffic control will be in place for the safety of workers and motorists.
Buses will replace trains on the T4 Illawarra Line and the South Coast Line this weekend, as work continues at Bellambi and across the network as part of the Rail Repair Plan.
There will be 865 workers removing 18 high-priority defects, completing electrical inspections and repairing 42km of track across the T4 Illawarra and South Coast line.
Keira MP Ryan Park has welcomed the VeloSTRAIL trial.
“I know anyone who rides a bike or navigates Bellambi station in a wheelchair or with a pram will love this,” he said.
“It might look simple, but I reckon it’ll be a real gamechanger for this station. I have no doubt we’ll be calling for it to be rolled out at other stations across the Illawarra in no time!”