The Melbourne Metro Rail Project involves the construction of a 9km-long tunnel within Melbourne, Australia, connecting the Sunbury and Dandenong railway route.

The metro rail tunnel will connect to the Dandenong and Sunbury lines at the south-eastern side of South Yarra Station and the western part of South Kensington Station respectively.

Melbourne Metro is a vital project for the Government of Victoria. The project is included under the Major Transport Projects Facilitation Act 2009. It will undergo a comprehensive technical and environmental assessment, as well as stakeholder engagement.

Estimated to cost $11bn, the Melbourne underground metro is the biggest project of Melbourne railways, after the City Loop. Construction started in 2018 and operations are expected to start in 2025.

The first section of the Metro Tunnel was completed in April 2020. The construction of the permanent structure under Grattan Street is underway along with the station’s entrances at Grattan Street west and Royal Parade.

Background to Melbourne’s metro project

The existing rail network of Melbourne is overcapacity and construction of an underground rail tunnel has been suggested as the only solution for the problem. The existing metro trains are expected to become overcrowded in the next few years.

The Melbourne underground metro rail project will resolve the issue facilitating more trains to be operated on the Sunbury, Craigieburn, Williamstown, Werribee, Frankston, Upfield and Sandringham railway routes. The enhanced capacity will support more than 20,000 passengers on an hourly basis.

Passengers of the Melbourne Metro will be able to conveniently access the City Loop Services, which will lower passenger traffic on the St Kilda tram route.

Access to several prominent locations such as North Melbourne will be improved by the metro rail. In addition, the project will help in the development of infrastructure vital for further growth of the public transport system of Melbourne.

Melbourne Metro Rail Project details

The Melbourne Metro Rail Project will connect Dynon to St Kilda Road by crossing the Central Business District (CBD). The western and northern suburban zones of Melbourne will be benefited by the metro rail.

The project will include laying of twin tracks from the Sunbury corridor to south Kensington and construction of twin tube bored tunnels up to Domain. The twin tunnels will pass through Parkville, CBD and the Yarra River.

New underground stations are being built at North Melbourne, Parkville, CBD North, CBD South and Domain. Melton railway route services will also commence using the tunnel once electrification of the metro line is complete.

The metro rail project will allow Frankston Line to have an exclusive use of the current Caulfield City Loop Tunnel through a new loop line. Additionally, new trains on the Sunbury-Dandenong Line will become conveniently accessible to travellers on the Frankston Line.

The Northern City Loop Tunnel will be used exclusively by the Craigieburn and Upfied lines forming a Northern Loop Line upon completion of the metro. A new Cross City Line will be formed connecting the Werribee and Williamstown line and Sandringham line, passing through Southern Cross and Flinders Street Stations.

Passengers of the Craigieburn line, Upfied line and Cross City Line can interchange at Southern Cross and Flinders Street to access Sunbury-Dandenong services.

Comprehensive geotechnical studies were carried out along the proposed route where several boreholes were dug to assess the environmental and ground conditions. The investigations have helped in designing right soil disposal, construction and environmental management plans.

Contractors and rolling stock for Melbourne’s rail project

The Victoria Department of Transport appointed Aurecon, Mott MacDonald, Sinclair Knight Merz and Grimshaw Architects as technical advisers for the Melbourne Underground Metro Rail project.

Their role included carrying out a detailed study and suggesting the route and location of stations.

Grimshaw was awarded the contract for defining and testing the requirements and parameters for both the metro rail line and the underground stations. Grimshaw will be responsible for the architectural design of the five stations as part of the contract, conforming to the budgetary limitations.

The Melbourne Metro Rail Network will include 33 high-capacity trains, which will accommodate approximately 1,100 passengers in the initial stages. The trains have been designed to be extended up to a length of 220m. In addition, another 70 trainsets will be procured to provide for added capacity.

The Melbourne Metro Rail Project is being executed in a public-private partnership (PPP) model. Three consortiums, including Continuum Victoria, Cross Yarra Partnership, and Moving Melbourne Together, were shortlisted under the PPP for the design and construction of the twin tunnels and five underground stations, private finance and other services.

John Holland received a $324m early works contract in June 2016. The contract includes the relocation of utility services and preparation of construction sites for the project.

Franchisee Yarra Trams is responsible for providing tram diversion works and utility service providers are expected to provide construction power.

Government sanctioned $2.9bn for the construction of the metro rail project in the 2016-17 budget.

The Victorian Government selected CPB Contractors and Bombardier Transportation for delivering the Rail Systems Alliance (RSA) works package for the metro tunnel project in July 2017.

The Rail Infrastructure Alliance (RIA), comprising John Holland, CPB Contractors and AECOM, was chosen to deliver a $1bn works package of the Melbourne Metro project. The Rail Infrastructure Alliance is constructing entrances to the Metro Tunnel.


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