Australia's Victoria Government has announced that early works are being planned for the A$11bn ($7.9bn) Melbourne Metro rail project that will transform the region's rail network.
The early work will involve shifting about 150 different services such as gas, electricity, water and phone lines. The relocation of essential services ahead of the project's tunnel construction is expected to cost A$300m ($217m).
The first package of works on the Melbourne Metro Rail project is scheduled to start in 2017. The project includes construction of two 9km rail tunnels and five underground stations.
The two tunnels will be built from South Kensington to South Yarra as part of a new Sunbury to Cranbourne and Pakenham line.
The underground stations will be located at Arden, Parkville, CBD North, CBD South and Domain, as well as train and tram interchanges at Parkville and Domain and rail tunnel entrances at South Kensington and South Yarra.
Victoria premier Daniel Andrews said: "Melbourne Metro Rail will unclog our train network, creating an international-style turn-up-and-go underground metro system."
The project will be funded and built by a public-private partnership (PPP).
Major construction under the project is scheduled to begin in 2018 and the full project is expected to be completed by 2026.
Victoria public transport minister Jacinta Allan said: "These early works will set up key sites for major construction in 2018, so we can deliver Melbourne Metro Rail as soon as possible.
"The Melbourne Metro cross-city rail tunnel will deliver the high-capacity, high-frequency metro system Melbourne needs, and lays the foundation for future growth of our train network."