By Meg Hellyer
If you drive along Underwood Road or walk along the bike track, you’ll be familiar with the Ferntree Gully Substation (V.R. Substation No. 29).
Over recent months, this beautiful old brick train substation has been upgraded with an additional building to house new equipment to support bushfire protection technology.
Built in the mid-1960s, the train substation works with the local zone substation, which supplies electricity to Ferntree Gully along with surrounding areas including Knoxfield, Rowville and Upwey.
Damaged and falling electrical wires can be a major cause of bushfires, so the Government has been working with power companies and Public Transport Victoria (PTV) to install technology that reduces this risk. These changes come following recommendations given during the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission of 2009.
The new substation building includes an isolating transformer (or Rapid Earth Fault Current Limiter – REFCL), which works as a shock absorber to protect the train substation from high voltage spikes. If a power line should fall, the transformer quickly activates and cuts off power to the line – preventing electrical sparks that could start a bushfire.
In an area that remembers all too well what happened when fires jumped the train line on Black Saturday in 2009, this upgrade is a worthy addition.