Work on the Melbourne Metro Tunnel – the biggest public transport project in the Australian state of Victoria’s history – has begun.
Acting Premier and Minister for Public Transport, Jacinta Allan, visited the project’s first worksite at Domain Sept. 22 to announce the start of enabling works on the fully funded $10.9 billion ($8.32 billion US) project.
The works are part of the Metro Tunnel early works contract – the first package of works on the project – which was awarded to John Holland in June.
Work has now started on the relocation and protection of up to 100 services under the $324 million ($247 US) contract, which also includes the excavation of 11-story deep shafts next to Swanston Street to enable the construction of the two new city stations.
The station shafts, due to begin early next year, will be up to 35 m deep and involve the excavation of 34 Olympic-sized swimming pools worth of soil and rock from beneath the city.
The next stage of the tender process on the biggest works package – the $6 billion ($4.58 billion US) Metro Tunnel and Stations P3 – has also been reached, with the Request for Proposal now released to the three world-class shortlisted bidders.
The Metro Tunnel’s huge boost to services is desperately needed. New data released shows the proportion of overcrowded peak services on the Cranbourne-Pakenham line jumped 9 percent in the past year – more than any other line.
“The Metro Tunnel is fully funded, fully planned, and work has begun,” Allan said. “This is Australia’s most important public transport project, freeing up space on our busiest lines and allowing us to run more trains, more often, all over Melbourne.”
The project will deliver two 9-km rail tunnels from South Kensington to South Yarra via the central business district (CBD). There will be five new underground stations, to be known as Arden, Parkville, CBD North, CBD South and Domain. The line will run from the north-west to the south-east and combine the Sunbury Line with the Cranbourne/Pakenham Line.
Construction is expected to finish in 2026.