Victorian premier Daniel Andrews has vowed to “get on” with the Melbourne Metro project, announcing the preferred alignment and depth of rail tunnels.
Andrews was joined on Thursday morning by minister for public transport Jacinta Allan to announce the Labor Government’s plan to align the twin 9km tunnels under Swanston Street through the Melbourne CBD.
Andrews and Allan also announced that the tunnels will be at a depth of just 10m below surface, rather than an earlier proposal of 40m.
“Aligning Melbourne Metro with Swanston Street is better for passengers and taxpayers,” Andrews said.
“Confirming the preferred alignment and not proceeding with the Liberals’ East West Link means we can get on with the project our state needs and the project our state voted for: Melbourne Metro Rail.”
The alignment announcement follows planning and technical work undertaken by the Melbourne Metro Rail Authority, which was established with $40 million in funding in February.
The work shows the Swanston Street alignment to be “the most convenient location for commuters and the most cost-effective option for construction,” according to the Government.
A proposed alignment with Russell Street was ruled out as it wouldn’t allow passengers to transfer directly between the City Loop and the new Melbourne Metro tunnels.
Another proposed alignment, beneath Elizabeth Street, revealed unstable ground conditions and significant and costly engineering challenges, the Government detailed on Thursday.
The 10m depth for the tunnels was chosen as it was decided deeper tunnels were not convenient for commuters, and were not as safe in case of emergency.
The reduced depth of the tunnels also means construction of the project can take place “more efficiently,” the Government said.
Melbourne Metro Rail Authority plans to investigate a number of measures to reduce disruption throughout the CBD during construction.
“During the procurement phase, bidders will be encouraged to further improve the design and minimise disruption,” the Government said.
“Identifying a preferred route and depth for the rail tunnels allows more detailed investigations to be undertaken in the project’s ongoing planning and development.
“It will also allow the Authority to undertake detailed consultation with stakeholders, including Swanston Street traders, later this year.”
Public transport minister Jacinta Allan said the preferred alignment was a good result for commuters.
“Two new underground city stations, connected to the City Loop and close to street level, will make it easier to get into and around Melbourne,” Allan said.
“Victoria needs a bigger, better train system and the Andrews Labor Government is getting on with it.”