FOOTSCRAY commuters must wait until at least mid-next year before construction works at the railway station are complete.

A major overhaul of the station as part of the $5.3 billion Regional Rail Link project will take about 18 months as the rail corridor is widened for two new tracks.

RRL project spokesman Tim Holmes said the construction works were expected to be completed in mid-2014, with the Regional Rail Link to launch in 2016.

“All platforms are currently in use with no impact on services and changes have been made to the station to enable it to remain functional while works are under way.”

Questions have been raised about demolition of two-year-old infrastructure, including stairs and the northern forecourt, built when the $14.7 million William Cooper Bridge was opened by the Labor government in 2010.

The original footbridge redesign was heavily criticised by commuters for being of “poor quality, dangerous in wet conditions and lacking escalator access”. As opposition transport spokesman, Terry Mulder (now the Minister) said rebuilding the footbridge would cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

Mr Holmes said the demolition was forced by the need to widen the rail corridor for two new tracks and platforms and to build escalators and ramps with new canopies over the station entrances. “The work also includes creating a new public space on Irving Street with landscaping, seating and lighting.”

The Regional Rail Link Authority refuses to reveal the cost of the station rebuild, pointing only to the $835 million budget for the entire Footscray-to-Deer Park work package.

Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese and Mr Mulder visited the banks of the Maribyrnong River last week to inspect work on a new bridge being built for the project. 

Mr Albanese said the new “superstructure” would extend for nearly a kilometre from South Kensington to Footscray, spanning both the river and the existing rail track. Mr Mulder said the works were being carefully undertaken to avoid damaging the heritage-listed rail bridge.