Continuum Victoria, Cross Yarra Partnership, and Moving Melbourne Together have been shortlisted to develop the A$6bn ($4.6bn) rail project in the Australian state of Victoria.

To be built under the public-private partnership (PPP), the project will involve construction and fit-out of a 9km metro tunnel, as well as five new underground stations.

Victoria's premier Daniel Andrews said: “The best construction companies in the world are lining up to build the biggest public transport project in Australia, the Metro Tunnel.

"The project will involve construction and fit-out of a 9km metro tunnel, as well as five new underground stations."

“Melbourne needs the Metro Tunnel and we’re not wasting a moment – major work starts next year. The Metro Tunnel will let us run trains so often that you don’t need a timetable – you just turn up and go.”

During construction, up to six tunnel-boring machines (TBM) will be used and each of the six TBM will be 100m long and will weigh more than 1,000t.

As part of the project, three 11-storey deep shafts will be excavated in the central business district (CBD) at Franklin Street and A’Beckett Street, and a City Square near Flinders Street Station. These shafts will facilitate the lowering of roadheaders into the ground to start the excavation of nearly 2,000,000m³ of soil and rock.

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The contract is expected to be awarded by the end of next year, while construction work will commence in 2018. The new stations will be located at Arden, Domain Parkville, CBD North, and CBD South.

Image: The tunnel boring machines will be 100m long and will weigh more than 1,000t. Photo: courtesy of Premier of Victoria.