The Metro Tunnel, earlier known as Melbourne Metro 1 or Melbourne Metro Rail Project is a metropolitan rail infrastructure scheme currently under construction in Melbourne, Australia. It comprises construction of two 9-kilometre rail tunnel with five new underground stations from South Kensington station, north west of the Melbourne City to South Yarra which is in the south east). The tunnel will join the Pakenham and Cranbourne lines to the Sunbury line, allowing them to bypass Flinders Street station and the City Loop and also stopping at the Melbourne central business district.
The Metro Tunnel will allow for the operational separation of a number of existing lines and rise the capacity of the rail network to metro-style frequencies. The scheme is part of the PTV Network Development Plan.
In February, the State government formed the Melbourne Metro Rail Authority, with funding worth $40 million, to supervise planning of the project and $1.5 billion to start land and property acquisitions and detailed route investigation, and an additional $3 billion in funding was dedicated. Most of the scheme would be constructed on a public-private partnership, with private sector investors financing much of the estimated $9 billion to $11 billion cost upfront. Early enabling works started in late 2016.
Late in, parts of the Melbourne central business district, with City Square and sections of Swanston Street, were shut to enable the tunnel construction and stations. The project was earlier planned to complete in 2026, was later revised to late 2025.
In April to July, number rail lines in Melbourne’s east were closed for weeks for tunnel entrances construction near Kensington and South Yarra. The first tunnel boring machine assembling started at North Melbourne in June.
In February, the first section of the Metro Tunnel between Arden and Kensington was completed by TBM Joan, 1.2 kilometres long and installing 4,200 curved concrete segments to offer 700 rings lining the tunnel walls. Two months later, TBM Meg accomplished the accompanying tunnel, between Arden and Kensington. The third, TBM Millie, started tunnelling to the South Yarra eastern tunnel entrance on 27 April. Was later lowered underground, as part of the process and assembled along with her mate TBM Alice and will tunnel 1.7 kilometres to its destination. TBM Alice was released a month later, on 25 May .TBM Joan started tunnelling again, now towards Parkville, from Arden, on 25 May.
The release of TBM Meg towards Parkville revealed that for the first time in the scheme, all the four TBMs were tunnelling at the same time.
In May, major traffic changes were established around Flinders Street Station in order to increase the safety because of the project’s large trucks entering acoustic sheds. They included removal of Left turns between St Kilda Road and Flinders Street, and closure of the pedestrian crossing from St Paul’s Cathedral to Federation Square. The crossing is likely to reopen in January 2022.
On 24 May, it was stated that all four TBMs had accomplished digging the twin 9km tunnels. The work was estimated on a average rate of 90m per week on all four TBMs. The next Metro Tunnel construction phase includes tunneling of 26 cross passages. The cross passages are short tunnels that join the main tunnels for passengers when an incident occur.