Collaborators John Holland
South Morang Railway Station to Mernda Railway Station, VIC
2021 UK Civic Trust Award (Highly Commended)
The urban design vision creates an integrated design language that speaks to the local character, environment, flora and fauna, and celebrates the reintroduction of the rail to the north of Melbourne.
The Mernda Rail Extension Project is a Victorian Government infrastructure project developed through the Level Crossing Removal Project. The corridor extends 8km from South Morang to Mernda, consisting of Middle Gorge, Hawkstowe and Mernda station precincts, three community play and skate spaces, pedestrian connections and corridor wide revegetation.
The station precincts act as a catalyst for urban developments and renewal opportunities and cater to the significant and rapid population growth in Melbourne’s North. The design incorporates strategic integration with the existing and emerging local urban fabric while retaining and enhancing the local community identity and landscape character.
This was driven by the overarching vision to make a positive contribution to the development of existing and future communities. Mernda Rail Extension represents the principles of the LXRP Urban Design Framework which include identity, connectivity and wayfinding, urban integration, resilience and sustainability, amenity, vibrancy, safety and accessibility.
The overall vision was executed by the complete integration of architecture, urban design, engineering and landscape.
Extensive consultation was undertaken with Metro Trains Melbourne, Whittlesea City Council and the local community through pop-up community events and door knocks. Our teams leading role in public consultation ensuring the satisfaction of the local community.
A coordinated outcome was achieved where the rail alignment adjusted to cater for large River Red Gums providing significant visual amenity to residents whilst catering for habitat value.
The elevated viaduct structure and underpass of the Mernda Rail Network improves safety for rail and road users, pedestrians and cyclists and it serves as a precedent for future Victorian State Government and LXRP projects in removing dangerous and congested level crossings across Melbourne.
The design of the Recreational Areas provides a functional space under the rail viaduct for people to activate with a multitude of activities and nominated functional spaces. New planting is proposed within the spaces to support the objective of the Corridor Wide planting to green the rail corridor.
An extensive shared use path network along the Mernda Rail Extension links the community spaces, stations and the broader path network promoting connectivity and integration along the alignment and the surrounding community.
The landscape design of Hawkstowe Station seeks to go beyond the idea of a train station, and rather creates an integrated public transport interchange and civic public space.
The landscape elements capitalises on the character and qualities of Plenty Gorge Park to the East and Quarry Hills to the West. The station design considers the unique landscape and semi-rural aspect of the region and draws inspiration from the traditional Australian homestead.
Mernda Station presents a new civic identity, stimulating growth for the future Mernda Town Centre while fostering connection between local communities.
The landscaped forecourt areas to the station are envisaged as places that provide both access to the station, and a place that can be used by the public and local community. This extends to the north as a linear landscape having potential to integrate activities beneath the viaduct such as markets and community events.
Middle Gorge Station
A sense of place was vital for each station precinct and the design for Middle Gorge Station addresses the core urban design and placemaking principles by creating a distinctive language for the station, public realm and landscape.
The sculptured form of terracing activates diversity in its uses catering for a broader clientele. Trees are scattered on the embankment to provide shade and protection The result is an intimate space were groups and individuals can rest and relax amongst the greenery.
We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia, their Elders and ancestors. We recognise the rich heritage and profound connection to Country of First Peoples, including their influence on land, waters, sky and community as skilled land shapers and place makers, which has endured for millennia.
In the spirit of reconciliation, Tract acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea, community and culture. We pay our respect to their elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.
This mode enables people with epilepsy to use the website safely by eliminating the risk of seizures that result from flashing or blinking animations and risky color combinations.
Visually Impaired Mode
Improves website's visuals
This mode adjusts the website for the convenience of users with visual impairments such as Degrading Eyesight, Tunnel Vision, Cataract, Glaucoma, and others.
Cognitive Disability Mode
Helps to focus on specific content
This mode provides different assistive options to help users with cognitive impairments such as Dyslexia, Autism, CVA, and others, to focus on the essential elements of the website more easily.
ADHD Friendly Mode
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This mode helps users with ADHD and Neurodevelopmental disorders to read, browse, and focus on the main website elements more easily while significantly reducing distractions.
Allows using the site with your screen-reader
This mode configures the website to be compatible with screen-readers such as JAWS, NVDA, VoiceOver, and TalkBack. A screen-reader is software for blind users that is installed on a computer and smartphone, and websites must be compatible with it.
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tract.com.au December 2023
We firmly believe that the Internet should be available and accessible to anyone, and are committed to providing a website that is accessible to the widest possible audience, regardless of circumstance and ability.
To fulfill this, we aim to adhere as strictly as possible to the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 (WCAG 2.1) at the AA level. These guidelines explain how to make web content accessible to people with a wide array of disabilities. Complying with those guidelines helps us ensure that the website is accessible to all people: blind people, people with motor impairments, visual impairment, cognitive disabilities, and more.
This website utilises various technologies that are meant to make it as accessible as possible at all times. We utilise an accessibility interface that allows persons with specific disabilities to adjust the website’s UI (user interface) and design it to their personal needs.
Additionally, the website utilises an AI-based application that runs in the background and optimizes its accessibility level constantly. This application remediates the website’s HTML, adapts Its functionality and behavior for screen-readers used by the blind users, and for keyboard functions used by individuals with motor impairments.
If yo’ve found a malfunction or have ideas for improvement, we’ll be happy to hear from you. You can reach out to the website’s operators by using the following email email@example.com
Screen-reader and keyboard navigation
Our website implements the ARIA attributes (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) technique, alongside various different behavioral changes, to ensure blind users visiting with screen-readers are able to read, comprehend, and enjoy the website’s functions. As soon as a user with a screen-reader enters your site, they immediately receive a prompt to enter the Screen-Reader Profile so they can browse and operate your site effectively. Here’s how our website covers some of the most important screen-reader requirements, alongside console screenshots of code examples:
Screen-reader optimisation: we run a background process that learns the website’s components from top to bottom, to ensure ongoing compliance even when updating the website. In this process, we provide screen-readers with meaningful data using the ARIA set of attributes. For example, we provide accurate form labels; descriptions for actionable icons (social media icons, search icons, cart icons, etc.); validation guidance for form inputs; element roles such as buttons, menus, modal dialogues (popups), and others. Additionally, the background process scans all of the website’s images and provides an accurate and meaningful image-object-recognition-based description as an ALT (alternate text) tag for images that are not described. It will also extract texts that are embedded within the image, using an OCR (optical character recognition) technology. To turn on screen-reader adjustments at any time, users need only to press the Alt+1 keyboard combination. Screen-reader users also get automatic announcements to turn the Screen-reader mode on as soon as they enter the website.
These adjustments are compatible with all popular screen readers, including JAWS and NVDA.
Users can also use shortcuts such as “M” (menus), “H” (headings), “F” (forms), “B” (buttons), and “G” (graphics) to jump to specific elements.
Disability profiles supported in our website
Epilepsy Safe Mode – this profile enables people with epilepsy to use the website safely by eliminating the risk of seizures that result from flashing or blinking animations and risky colour combinations.
Visually Impaired Mode – this mode adjusts the website for the convenience of users with visual impairments such as Degrading Eyesight, Tunnel Vision, Cataract, Glaucoma, and others.
Cognitive Disability Mode – this mode provides different assistive options to help users with cognitive impairments such as Dyslexia, Autism, CVA, and others, to focus on the essential elements of the website more easily.
ADHD Friendly Mode – this mode helps users with ADHD and Neurodevelopmental disorders to read, browse, and focus on the main website elements more easily while significantly reducing distractions.
Blindness Mode – this mode configures the website to be compatible with screen-readers such as JAWS, NVDA, VoiceOver, and TalkBack. A screen-reader is software for blind users that is installed on a computer and smartphone, and websites must be compatible with it.
Keyboard Navigation Profile (Motor-Impaired) – this profile enables motor-impaired persons to operate the website using the keyboard Tab, Shift+Tab, and the Enter keys. Users can also use shortcuts such as “M” (menus), “H” (headings), “F” (forms), “B” (buttons), and “G” (graphics) to jump to specific elements.
Additional UI, design, and readability adjustments
Font adjustments – users, can increase and decrease its size, change its family (type), adjust the spacing, alignment, line height, and more.
Colour adjustments – users can select various colour contrast profiles such as light, dark, inverted, and monochrome. Additionally, users can swap colour schemes of titles, texts, and backgrounds, with over 7 different colouring options.
Animations – epileptic users can stop all running animations with the click of a button. Animations controlled by the interface include videos, GIFs, and CSS flashing transitions.
Content highlighting – users can choose to emphasise important elements such as links and titles. They can also choose to highlight focused or hovered elements only.
Audio muting – users with hearing devices may experience headaches or other issues due to automatic audio playing. This option lets users mute the entire website instantly.
Cognitive disorders – we utilise a search engine that is linked to Wikipedia and Wiktionary, allowing people with cognitive disorders to decipher meanings of phrases, initials, slang, and others.
Additional functions – we provide users the option to change cursor colour and size, use a printing mode, enable a virtual keyboard, and many other functions.
Browser and assistive technology compatibility
We aim to support the widest array of browsers and assistive technologies as possible, so our users can choose the best fitting tools for them, with as few limitations as possible. Therefore, we have worked very hard to be able to support all major systems that comprise over 95% of the user market share including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Opera and Microsoft Edge, JAWS and NVDA (screen readers), both for Windows and for MAC users.
Notes, comments, and feedback
Despite our very best efforts to allow anybody to adjust the website to their needs, there may still be pages or sections that are not fully accessible, are in the process of becoming accessible, or are lacking an adequate technological solution to make them accessible. Still, we are continually improving our accessibility, adding, updating and improving its options and features, and developing and adopting new technologies. All this is meant to reach the optimal level of accessibility, following technological advancements. For any assistance, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org