Project Spotlight: Melbourne’s Metro Tunnel

Arden Station

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The Metro Tunnel project will create a new end-to-end rail line across Melbourne, with bigger and better trains, next-generation signalling technology and five new stations.

About the Metro Tunnel project

Construction is underway on the Metro Tunnel, which will untangle the City Loop so more trains can run more often across Melbourne. The Metro Tunnel will create a new end-to-end rail line from Sunbury in the west to Cranbourne/Pakenham in the southeast, with bigger and better trains, next-generation signalling technology and five new stations.

The Metro Tunnel will bring more trains to the suburbs and reduce travel by running the busy Cranbourne, Pakenham and Sunbury lines through a new tunnel. As 9km twin tunnels have been completed for the tunnel boring phase, construction is underway on five new stations. 

Stations for the Metro Tunnel project

Melbourne will be home to five new landmarks when the underground stations for the Metro Tunnel open in 2025, including Arden, Parkville (under Grattan street), State Library (northern end of Swanston st), Town Hall (southern end of Swanston street), and Anzac station (under the Domain Interchange on St Kilda Road).

Arden Station 

The new Metro Tunnel station in North Melbourne is part of plans for urban renewal in the broader Arden-Macaulay precinct. Over the next 30 years, it is expected that the area will become home to 15,000 residents and more than 34,000 jobs directly connected to the train network via the Metro Tunnel. Arden Station will have a direct link to Melbourne Airport in 2029 via Melbourne Airport Rail.

Getting to and from Arden Station 

Arden Station will be within walking distance of the North Melbourne Recreation Centre, Arden Street Oval and the existing route 57 tram. Station access features include:

  • dedicated pedestrian crossings on Arden Street and Laurens Street
  • new drop-off zones and taxi bays located directly outside the station on Laurens Street
  • more than 120 bike parking spaces
  • universal access parking bays conveniently located near the station entrance.

Building Arden Station 

The Arden Station box has been built using a ‘cut and cover’ method, excavating the station box from the bottom up. Construction of the station’s concourse level and internal walls is complete, and the roof slab is currently being constructed. Works to prepare for the construction of the station entrance commenced in early 2021.

Ongoing works

Work at the Arden Station site involves:

  • Station construction and fit out, including platform, concourse, equipment rooms and mechanical, electrical and plumbing service installation
  • Construction and fit out of a station services building to support station operations
  • Utility investigation and installation works on Laurens, Barwise, Arden and Queensberry streets
  • Out of hours oversize deliveries to and from site
  • Surveying, sampling and testing groundwater and soil
  • Concrete batching plant operation
  • Transporting concrete from the concrete batching plant to other Metro Tunnel Project construction sites
  • Construction of the North Melbourne electrical substation
  • Construction of the Arden Station entrance and façade.

Building the Arden Station entrance 

The station’s key architectural feature will be a massive brick archway, made up of 15 individual arches, 52 precast concrete segments and 104,000 bricks. The archway’s bricks are locally made in Victoria and then constructed into precast segments at a facility in South Australia – the only precast concrete business in Australia with the capacity for such logistically challenging work. Each brick is hand-cut to fit into the arches and then secured to the concrete segments using stainless steel ties, mesh and epoxy. Each piece weighs between 45 and 50 tonnes.

The 15 prominent arches are made up of these individual segments, slotting together to create the arch structure. There are 34 different segments, each requiring complex mould changes to shape key elements of the entrance including door openings and ticket windows.

Each arch segment is created using a pre-cast concrete and steel mould into which the concrete is poured and the brick segments are set. The arches’ steel reinforcement cages are custom-built to the design of each concrete frame. The cages are placed into the moulds before the segments are poured.

An extensive set of steel formwork was set up on location to support the installation of the arches. The arch segments were delivered to the Arden Station site progressively and installed during the second half of 2021. It is expected that work will finish in late 2022 to finish the construction of the station entrance.

Source: © State Government of Victoria, Australia 2022

Parkville Station

Getting to and from Parkville station

The broader Parkville precinct is currently serviced by 11 tram routes and 6 bus routes. Station precinct features will include:

  • Priority for pedestrians, with a public underpass beneath Royal Parade, the closure of Barry Street to vehicles and a raised pedestrian crossing on Grattan Street linking Barry Street to the new station
  • Upgraded pedestrian crossings at the intersection of Grattan Street and Royal Parade, with crossing widths increased from 3m to 6m to improve safety
  • Fully accessible station entrances with escalators and lifts
  • A new tram super stop on the corner of Grattan Street and Royal Parade, offering higher levels of passenger amenities including shelters, service information and wheelchair access
  • 2 station entrances directly outside two of Melbourne’s biggest hospitals – The Royal Melbourne Hospital and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
  • New bus shelters on Grattan Street that will provide weather protection and travel information
  • New wider bicycle lanes to improve cyclist safety
  • More than 250 new bike parking spaces

Building Parkville Station 

Construction of Parkville Station will take around 5 years. Key construction activities include:

  • Preparatory works, including tree protection and removal and the relocation of underground services
  • Road closures and site establishment
  • Piling and excavation of the station box
  • Structural works for the station box
  • Station entrance construction and mined excavation of a pedestrian underpass under the Grattan Street and Elizabeth Street/Royal Parade intersection
  • Station architectural, plumbing, mechanical and electrical fit out
  • Rail system works including the installation of track, signalling and communications
  • Site reinstatement including landscaping and public realm works, including final service relocations
  • New road layout.

There are two construction sites for works at Parkville:

  • Grattan Street west (between Flemington Road and Elizabeth Street/Royal Parade)
  • Grattan Street east (between Royal Parade/Elizabeth Street and Leicester Street).

A pedestrian underpass beneath Royal Parade has been constructed, which connects the entrance in the hospital precinct to the station’s underground concourse. This commenced in mid-late 2021 and has completed in mid-2022.

Grattan Street west

Construction of the station entrance on Grattan Street, next to the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre began in May 2020. The second stage of works commenced in March 2021, involving station entrance construction adjacent to The Royal Melbourne Hospital.

Station entrance construction will involve:

  • Site establishment
  • Piling
  • Excavation
  • Construction of a roof slab
  • Following roof slab construction, excavation will continue underground, through a void in the roof slab
  • Permanent structure works include the construction of walls, base slab, and above-ground structures
  • Final service relocations, reinstatement, urban realm and landscaping will then be completed.

Grattan Street east

Construction inside of the station box at the Grattan Street east site began in November 2019.

Station box construction involves:

  • Building a base slab, station levels, internal walls, columns, platforms, roof and architectural elements
  • Roof slab construction will involve the removal of the temporary deck, strut removal and backfilling for site access
  • Staged pile removal to facilitate the connection of station areas into the station box
  • Installation of services and facilities.

Parkville Station is being built using a ‘bottom up’ methodology. This involves excavating the box down to its maximum depth, construction and fit out of the box, followed by installation of mechanical and electrical equipment to operate the station. Once the station is complete the road surface will be reinstated over the top.

Construction of station entrances and station support facilities began in 2020. These works will involve:

  • Construction of the Royal Parade station entrance, on the northeast corner of the Grattan Street and Royal Parade/Elizabeth Street intersection
  • Construction of a retail area for the station on the northern side of the station box
  • Construction of a goods lift near Leicester Street, to provide access to the station for operational activities (such as deliveries and waste removal)
  • Construction of 2 tunnel ventilation shafts (TVSs) and a chiller plant. The TVSs will assist in balancing air pressure within the tunnels, which is caused by the movement of trains, and assist in an emergency. The chiller plant will act as a cooling system for the station.
Metro Tunnel Map of all five underground stations

State Library Station 

Works are underway to deliver two new underground stations in Melbourne’s CBD at each end of Swanston Street. The new State Library Station will be located in the northern end of the CBD with direct connections to Melbourne Central Station.

Getting to and from State Library station 

The new station will directly interface with other transport modes along Swanston, La Trobe and Franklin streets. Station access features will include:

  • Entrances located next to existing tram stops on Swanston and La Trobe streets, allowing for easy interchange between trains and trams
  • Improved bicycle safety with an 80m section of local vehicle traffic removed from the western side of Swanston Street, between Little La Trobe and A’Beckett streets
  • New on-road bicycle paths on parts of Swanston Street and along Franklin Street
  • More than 70 new bike parking spaces.

Building State Library Station

The construction of the two new stations under Swanston Street in the heart of the city presents a range of engineering and construction challenges.

These include:

  • Navigating existing below-ground infrastructure, such as water, gas and electricity services and the City Loop
  • Managing the effects on vehicle, pedestrian, cyclist and tram movements
  • Minimising disruption to residents, traders and businesses
  • Maintaining a safe environment for the project workforce and the community.

Station construction techniques

To keep Swanston Street open and trams running while the Metro Tunnel is built, access shafts up to 11 storeys deep have been dug adjacent to Swanston Street at Franklin Street (east and west of Swanston Street), A’Beckett Street, La Trobe and Little La Trobe Streets, City Square, Federation Square and behind Young and Jackson Hotel.

These shafts are used to transport machinery, equipment and workers underground. Equipment is then used to excavate and line the stations below the surface of Swanston Street.

This construction approach minimises disruption at surface level and is commonly used overseas, particularly in constrained city environments. The above ground disruption to businesses, cyclists, pedestrians and surrounding streets is greatly reduced as a result.

To better respond to the unique ground conditions in the CBD, and to provide more spacious and accessible station platforms, an innovative trinocular design has been proposed for the State Library and Town Hall stations. A trinocular design combines three overlapping tunnels that integrate the concourse and platforms on a single level to create a wide, central tunnel space, improved passenger circulation and vertical transportation.

Tunnelling under the CBD

The stations will be built as ‘trinocular’ caverns. The three overlapping tunnels have been mined by the roadheaders to create wide platforms with supporting columns and vaulted ceilings. The total platform width will be around 19m – one of the widest metro platforms in the world.

In 2021, following roadheader excavation of the tunnels through the CBD stations, tunnel boring machines carved out the twin tunnels between State Library Station and Town Hall Station around 30 to 40m below Swanston Street.

The use of mined tunnelling and underground excavation techniques will significantly reduce impacts on Melbourne’s CBD, helping to ensure tens of thousands of workers, residents and visitors can continue to access Swanston Street while construction of the new tunnels and stations continues underground.

However, there will still be some unavoidable disruption at surface level and some changes to roads, tram services, and bicycle and pedestrian access will be required to deliver the project.

Key construction activities

Construction activities within the CBD will include:

  • Preparatory works including tree removal and protection, and the relocation of underground services such as water, electricity, gas, sewers, stormwater and telecommunications
  • Excavation of construction access shafts
  • Demolition of buildings at station entrance locations, where required
  • Excavation of the tunnel between the two CBD stations
  • Structural works and station entrance connections
  • Architectural, mechanical and electrical fit-out
  • Track works and the installation of signalling, safety and communications systems
  • Site remediation, including landscaping on Swanston Street.

Current Works

Work is underway in the CBD to build State Library Station.

Construction works within the State Library Station precinct during September 2022 include:

  • Underground structures and lining works
  • Steel and concrete deliveries at all sites
  • Shaft construction at the La Trobe and Little La Trobe Street sites
  • Station entrance construction at the La Trobe Street site.

Traffic and transport impacts

  • To ensure the safety of workers, motorists, and cyclists during the construction of the new State Library Station, a 30km per hour speed limit is in place on La Trobe Street between Elizabeth and Swanston streets
  • The eastbound lanes on La Trobe Street are reduced to one lane between Elizabeth and Swanston streets, with the northern footpath closed to pedestrians adjacent to the La Trobe Street site
  • The Little La Trobe Street northern footpath adjacent to the Little La Trobe Street site is closed to pedestrians
  • The eastern entrance to Literature Lane is closed to traffic. Access to Literature Lane is via the western entrance off Little La Trobe Street
  • The entire length of Stewart Street in a southbound direction is now one-way
  • A’Beckett Street is closed between Swanston and Stewart streets and gantry walkways have been installed on both sides of A’Beckett Street
  • A designated pedestrian access path has been installed around the laydown and storage area on the half basketball courts on A’Beckett Street
  • Local access for residents and businesses will be maintained at all times.

Source: © State Government of Victoria, Australia 2022

Town Hall Station

The new Town Hall Station at the southern end of Swanston Street will improve access to Melbourne’s most iconic and important tourist destinations including Federation Square, Southbank, Arts Centre Melbourne, St Paul’s Cathedral and other culturally significant landmarks.

Town Hall Station will have a direct link to Melbourne Airport in 2029 via Melbourne Airport Rail.

Getting to and from Town Hall station 

The new station precinct will directly interface with popular transport routes along Swanston, Collins and Flinders streets. Station access features will  include:

  • A direct underground connection into Flinders Street Station via Campbell Arcade
  • An entrance at Federation Square to improve access to this important civic space as well as the Yarra River, Birrarung Marr and beyond
  • A station entrance at City Square to reduce pedestrian congestion along Swanston Street and relieve pressure on the Flinders Street/Swanston Street pedestrian crossing
  • More than 70 new bike parking spaces
  • Safe interchanges with nearby tram stops on Collins, Flinders and Swanston streets.

Building Town Hall Station 

The construction of the two new stations under Swanston Street in the heart of the city presents a range of engineering and construction challenges.

These include:

  • Navigating existing below-ground infrastructure, such as water, gas and electricity services and the City Loop
  • Managing the effects on vehicle, pedestrian, cyclist and tram movements
  • Minimising disruption to residents, traders and businesses
  • Maintaining a safe environment for the project workforce and the community.

Station construction techniques

To keep Swanston Street open and trams running while the Metro Tunnel is built, access shafts up to 11 storeys deep have been dug adjacent to Swanston Street at Franklin Street (east and west of Swanston Street), A’Beckett Street, La Trobe and Little La Trobe streets, City Square, Federation Square and behind Young and Jackson Hotel.

These shafts are used to transport machinery, equipment and workers underground. Equipment is then used to excavate and line the stations below the surface of Swanston Street.

Tunnelling under the CBD

The stations will be built as ‘trinocular’ caverns. The 3 overlapping tunnels have been mined by the roadheaders to create wide platforms with supporting columns and vaulted ceilings. The total platform width will be around 19m – one of the widest metro platforms in the world.

Central Caverns works for the Town Hall station

Current works for Town Hall station 

Work is now underway in Melbourne’s CBD to support construction of Town Hall Station.

Work began in September 2021 to prepare for two large cranes to be installed over the Swanston Street footpath between Collins and Flinders streets in 2022.

The 50m high cranes will be used to remove the acoustic shed by late 2022 and then to bring materials onto site for the fit out of the station’s City Square entrance.

The huge acoustic shed has allowed work to take place 24 hours a day in the CBD during three years of excavation and construction, protecting nearby businesses and residents from noise and dust impacts. The temporary deck has allowed trucks to move in and out carrying construction materials and equipment.

As work advances past the lower basement level of the station, the removal of the deck and the acoustic shed will allow construction on the upper levels and the station entrance.

Traffic and transport impacts

  • Ongoing closure of Flinders Street eastbound lanes between Swanston and Elizabeth Streets
  • Ongoing long-term closure of the southern footpath on Flinders Street adjacent to the Federation Square site, with pedestrian diversions in place through Federation Square
  • Closure of the left turning lane from St Kilda Road to Flinders Street
  • Temporary closure of the Flinders Street north-south pedestrian crossing between St Paul’s Cathedral and Federation Square
  • Temporary holding of traffic on Flinders Lane, Swanston, and Collins Streets for up to 3 minutes to enable the delivery of equipment and materials
  • Ongoing use of boom gate and swing gate controls to pedestrian and cyclist traffic on Flinders, Swanston, and Collins streets to facilitate safe truck ingress and egress
  • Intermittent slowing and stopping of traffic on Collins Street between Russell and Swanston streets for deliveries to the City Square site
  • Intermittent stopping of pedestrians on the corner of Swanston Street and Flinders Lane for the progress of construction vehicles
  • Concrete trucks will intermittently park in the loading bay on Collins Street, adjacent to the City Square site for up to 30 minutes to enable concrete testing to take place
  • Full closure of Campbell Arcade from all entrances from close of business for up to 2 years from 30 April whilst Flinders Link pedestrian connection works take place
  • Full closure of Degraves Subway from Flinders Street Station from 1 August for up to 2 years while lift installation works take place.

Federation Square traffic changes

Works are underway to build an entrance to Town Hall Station at Federation Square.

The entrance will improve access to this important civic space as well as Southbank, the Arts Centre, St Paul’s Cathedral and other culturally significant landmarks.

Anzac Station

The new Anzac Station will significantly improve access to the St Kilda Road precinct and key Melbourne landmarks, reducing pressure on the road and tram network to the south of the CBD.

Anzac Station has been strategically placed to ease pressure on the St Kilda Road/Swanston Street tram corridor, which is the busiest tram corridor in the world. It will service thousands of train and tram users, pedestrians, cyclists and motorists every day.

The station will support the continuing growth and redevelopment of the South Melbourne/Kings Way precinct, and make it easier to visit some of Melbourne’s most valued parks and attractions – such as the Shrine of Remembrance, the Royal Botanic Gardens and Albert Park.

Anzac Station will have a direct link to Melbourne Airport in 2029 via Melbourne Airport Rail.

Getting to and from Anzac station 

St Kilda Road is one of the world’s busiest tram corridors and a popular route with cyclists. More than half of the passengers using the new station are expected to move between trains and trams.

Station access features will include:

  • A new tram interchange – the first in Melbourne with a direct platform-to-platform connection between the train and tram network, with extra-large tram platforms to accommodate four trams at any one time (or two longer E-class trams in each direction), and to cater for large crowds for events such as Anzac Day and the Grand Prix
  • More than 120 new bike parking spaces, including space for bike parking in the station forecourt
  • A new pedestrian underpass linking Albert Road Reserve and the Shrine of Remembrance Reserve with the new station and tram stop, allowing people to safely cross underneath busy St Kilda Road
  • New bus stops with shelters on St Kilda Road to enable passengers to easily connect with trains and trams
  • Drop-off zones and taxi zones located near the Albert Road Reserve station entrance
  • A shared-use path through the new Albert Road Reserve, opening a new, safe cycling and walking connection
  • New kerbside bike lanes going in each direction along St Kilda Road, between Dorcas Street and Toorak Road, with a concrete separator to protect cyclists from the risk of car dooring. Cyclists will be able to ride two abreast. Parking spaces will be built alongside the concrete separator, followed by two traffic lanes.

Building Anzac station

The station is being built via a cut and cover method, using the ‘top down’ approach.

The walls of the station were built into the ground first through a series of diaphragm walls, or D-walls. Once the walls of the station were set, excavation equipment dug out the top few metres of the station box. A new permanent concrete slab was then poured at this level, forming the roof of the station box. Once the roof was in place, a temporary acoustic shed was installed over the northern end of the station box so excavation of the station could take place 24/7.

Anzac Station will also play a key role in supporting the project’s construction activities south of the Yarra River.

The two tunnel boring machines (TBMs) Millie and Alice were launched separately from Anzac Station in May 2020. TBM Millie broke through at the eastern tunnel entrance in South Yarra in September 2020, while Alice broke through in October 2020. The TBMs were retrieved and taken back to Anzac Station. Millie was launched in December 2020 and Alice was relaunched in January 2020 for the construction of the final sections of tunnel between Anzac Station and Town Hall Station.

Key construction activities for Anzac Station include:

  • Station box construction – platform level
  • Station box construction – concourse level
  • Station build and fitout
  • Anzac Station entrance – tram interchange
  • Acoustic shed disassembly and demolition
  • Station roof excavation, demolition and backfill
  • Rail tunnel fitout
  • Edmund Herring Oval site establishment.

It is estimated that construction activities in the Anzac Station precinct will take around 5 years. Surface disruption is expected to be shorter than the overall construction time. Project wide rail systems installation will occur after this.

Current Works

Major works on the Metro Tunnel Project are now underway in the Domain Precinct to support construction of Anzac Station.

Traffic and transport impacts

  • In late September/early October, the southbound lane of St Kilda Road will be realigned between Park Street and Bowen Lane. The tie-in works will require an overnight closure of the southbound lane, between Dorcas Street and Toorak Road
  • As a result, from late September/early October until mid-2023, there will be no right turn from Park Street into St Kilda Road’s southbound lane. This will return when tram infrastructure and construction work at the intersection of Park Street and St Kilda Road are complete
  • Further notification will be provided closer to the date once the switch date is confirmed.

Source: © State Government of Victoria, Australia 2022

Benefits for Melbourne’s train line

Some of Melbourne’s busiest metropolitan train lines – Sunbury, Cranbourne and Pakenham – will run exclusively through the new tunnel. By taking these lines out of the City Loop, other lines will be able to run more services.

Hence, room will be created on the network to enable over half a million additional passengers weekly across Melbourne’s train network to use the rail system during peak hours. The Metro Tunnel will also bring travel time savings across Melbourne’s suburban and regional lines. 

Connecting the travel time savings into the Metro Tunnel will provide passengers with around a 30-minute service into the CBD and will maximise access for all Victorians.

Better access

The Metro Tunnel will make it easier for all Victorians to move around the city and visit important destinations such as the Melbourne Airport. The new Town Hall and State Library stations in the CBD will revitalise key areas of the city and will transform the way people use the train network.

The two new stations will be connected to Flinders Street stations and the City Loop at  Melbourne Central, allowing passengers to interchange between services quicker. 

A new train/tram interchange as part of Anzac Station will take pressure off the busy St Kilda Road/Swanston Street tram corridor. 

All passengers across all lines will have train access to key destinations such as the St Kilda Road employment precinct, the University of Melbourne, Shrine of Remembrance and world-leading research and medical facilities at Parkville for the first time.

Melbourne Airport Rail 

Running Melbourne Airport Rail services through the Metro Tunnel will maximise airport access for all Victorians, providing easy and seamless routes from all metropolitan and regional train lines.

Craigieburn Line

The Metro Tunnel will create room for 54,000 passengers weekly on the Craigieburn Line during peak periods, which is approximately 27% more peak capacity.

Craigieburn Line passengers will be able to access Metro Tunnel services by interchanging at Melbourne Central station and Flinders Street Station.

The Metro Tunnel will save around 5 minutes on a journey to Parkville or St Kilda Road.

Cranbourne / Pakenham lines

The Metro Tunnel and associated network improvements will create room for 121,000 passengers every week on the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines during peak periods, which is approximately 45% more peak capacity.

The Metro Tunnel will connect the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines to the Sunbury Line with five new underground stations and save up to fifteen minutes on a journey to Parkville and 25 minutes to St Kilda Road.

The new Metro Tunnel stations will have longer platforms for longer trains. The new technology, ‘High Capacity Signalling’ will be installed between Watergardens and Dandenong to further increase the number of trains that can run each hour reliably and safely on the line.

Cranbourne and Pakenham Line passengers will be able to access City Loop services by interchanging at the new CBD stations which connect directly to Melbourne Central station and Flinders Street Station.

Frankston Line

The Metro Tunnel will create room for 36,000 more passengers weekly on the Frankston Line during peak periods, which is approximately 15% more peak capacity.

If Frankston Line passengers interchange at Caulfield Station, they will be able to access citybound Metro Tunnel express services to the new Anzac Station and beyond, saving up to fifteen minutes on a journey to Parkville or St Kilda Road. Alternatively, they can interchange at Melbourne Central station or Flinders Street Station.

Sandringham Line

The Metro Tunnel will create room for 72,000 more passengers weekly on the Sandringham Line during peak periods, which is approximately 48% more peak capacity.

Passengers will save up to ten minutes on a journey to Parkville and around five minutes when journeying to St Kilda Road.

Sunbury Line

The Metro Tunnel will create room for 113,000 more passengers every week on the Sunbury Line during peak periods, which is approximately 60% more peak capacity.

The Metro Tunnel and its High Capacity Signalling will connect the Sunbury Line to the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines with five new underground stations.

Sunbury Line passengers will be able to access City Loop services by interchanging at the new CBD stations, which will connect directly to Melbourne Central station and Flinders Street Station, and save up to 20 minutes off journeys to Parkville and St Kilda Road.

Upfield Line

The Metro Tunnel will create room for 45,000 passengers weekly on the Upfield Line during peak periods, which is approximately 71% more peak capacity.

Upfield Line passengers will be able to access Metro Tunnel services by interchanging at Melbourne Central station and Flinders Street Station, to save around five minutes off journeys to Parkville and St Kilda Road.

Werribee and Williamstown lines

The Metro Tunnel will create room for 63,000 passengers weekly on the Werribee and Williamstown lines during peak periods, which is approximately 24% more peak capacity.

Passengers will save up to 10 minutes off the journey to Parkville and around 5 minutes off the journey to St Kilda Road.

Technology for the Metro Tunnel project

The Metro Tunnel for Melbourne will be revolutionised with new technology as they move towards a reliable ‘turn-up-and-go’ network, similar to those in Hong Kong, Singapore or London.

High capacity signalling

The Metro Tunnel and the Cranbourne, Pakenham, and Sunbury lines will have the next-generation High Capacity Signalling technology installed, delivering more trains during peak times. 

Once built, this technology will also be rolled out at the new Melbourne Airport Rail once made.

There will be a 45% peak capacity of passengers weekly on the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines if bigger, more modern trains are running on this new network. 

Existing signals along these lines will also be updated so trains that use High Capacity Signalling and those that use conventional signallings – such as freight and regional passenger services – can safely and efficiently operate on the one system.

Moving block signalling

High Capacity Signalling is a hi-tech ‘moving block’ signalling system that enables trains to adjust speed automatically to maintain a safe distance from the train in front. 

The new technology will replace Melbourne’s current ‘fixed block’ system, which uses coloured signals to indicate when it is safe for a train to proceed.

They trialled High Capacity Signalling on a section of the Mernda Line between Epping and South Morang stations. Testing has now commenced on a section of the Cranbourne/Pakenham Line.

Trials of the new technology will continue before rollout in the Metro Tunnel and along the new Sunbury to Cranbourne/Pakenham line in 2025. This will be the first rollout of High Capacity Signalling on an existing network anywhere in Australia. 

Platform screen doors

London, Hong Kong and Paris are cities that use Platform screen doors (PSDs) for their world-leading underground rail networks. Using PSDs will be the first time Melbourne uses this special technology. 

The platform doors are aligned with the train’s doors and open and close automatically when trains arrive and leave the departure stations. This will improve passenger safety and boarding times, improve tunnel ventilation, and help manage the station environment. 

Two kilometres of platform screens made out of toughened glass will be installed in the Metro Tunnel. There will be clear entry markings to make it easy for passengers to know where to wait for trains. The platform screen door technology is currently underway at the train station in Pakenham East. 

Signalling control centres

High Capacity Signalling technology requires installing specialised equipment on Melbourne’s bigger and more modern trains along the Pakenham, Cranbourne, and Sunbury lines.

This equipment will transmit location data and speed to Melbourne’s two new signalling control centres at Dandenong and Sunshine. This will provide signalling staff with a dynamic, real-time overview of train movements across the network. 

Sunshine and Dandenong were chosen as locations for the signal control centres due to their strong connection points to metropolitan, regional and freight rail services.

The Sunshine Signal Control Centre construction began in 2020 and was completed in early 2022.

The Metro Tunnel Project is expected to finish by 2025. With services running, it will create capacity for more than half a million of extra passengers a week during peak times across Melbourne city’s train network.

Source: © State Government of Victoria, Australia 2022

Source: Rail Projects Victoria

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