In its biggest milestone yet, the first test trains have entered the Metro Tunnel – as the Andrews Labor Government gets on with delivering the biggest rail project in Victoria since the City Loop a year ahead of schedule.
Overnight, two test trains – one in each of the twin nine-kilometre tunnels – were driven through the eastern entrance of the Metro Tunnel at South Yarra, stopping at Anzac Station.
The project will connect the busy Sunbury and Cranbourne/Pakenham lines via a new tunnel under the city, creating an end-to-end rail line from the north-west to the south-east, freeing up space in the City Loop to run more trains more often to growing suburbs like Werribee, Sunbury and Frankston.
Years in the making, the milestone marks the start of the Metro Tunnel’s next major testing phase inside the new tunnels and stations, which will stretch well into 2024.
Over the coming months, the seven-carriage trains will run back-and-forth deep under the CBD and Yarra River, testing complex equipment and systems to ensure they are working seamlessly and safely.
Fundamentals – such as lining the trains up with the platforms – will be tested first, before the team gradually increases the complexity, from one train at low speed using minimal power through to multiple trains at greater speeds.
Everything from lifts, escalators, security systems, communications, lighting, plumbing, power and the Victorian-first platform screen doors will all be rigorously tested to ensure all systems are working together with Melbourne’s new fleet of bigger, better High Capacity Metro Trains.
This testing phase will continue into next year before the project team moves on to the next major testing phase – trial operations.
This phase will include drivers and station staff running simulated timetabled services in a dress rehearsal to ensure everything is ready for a safe, reliable and efficient opening in 2025, allowing for an extra half a million peak hour passengers each week.
Quotes attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews
“From a pencilled line on a map to trains in the tunnel – this is the biggest milestone on the Metro Tunnel to date, and a major step towards a better train network for Melbourne.”
“Our Metro Tunnel will change the way Victorians travel across our city, our suburbs and our state, slashing travel times and creating a turn-up-and-go network for Melbourne.”
Quote attributable to Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Jacinta Allan
“We thank the thousands of Victorians who built the tunnels, laid the track and made it possible for us to get on with the critical testing phase so we can open a year ahead of schedule – delivering more trains more often for Melbourne’s growing suburbs.”
Reviewed 25 July 2023