Melbourne’s Metro Tunnel project is entering a new phase of testing, putting the tunnel’s systems through their paces to ensure they are ready to deliver more trains, more often across the city when it opens a year ahead of schedule.
To mark the milestone, Premier Jacinta Allan and Transport Minister Danny Pearson took a ride on one of four trains currently being tested in the twin rail tunnels.
The latest phase will test how the station, train and data systems work together and communicate with each other, including platform screen doors, high-capacity signalling, passenger information displays, communications, and fire response systems.
Since the first test trains entered the tunnels in July, new seven-carriage high-capacity trains have run around 9500 kilometres back-and-forth deep under the CBD and Yarra River, testing equipment and systems to ensure they are working seamlessly and safely.
The team is working 130 shifts around the clock, testing trains communicating with each other to automatically maintain a safe distance and adjusting the space between trains as they speed up and slow down – sending data wirelessly to the Sunshine Signal Control Centre on their speed, location and track conditions.
Repeated testing and continuous software updates have been used to finetune the exact stopping position of the trains as they line up with the stations’ Victorian-first platform screen doors.
Testing inside the new Metro Tunnel and stations will stretch into mid-2024, before trial operations start – running practice timetabled services with drivers and station staff in a dress rehearsal to ensure services will work for passengers.
The Metro Tunnel includes twin rail tunnels under the city from Kensington to South Yarra and five new world-class stations at Arden, Parkville, State Library, Town Hall, and Anzac, giving passengers train access to Parkville and St Kilda Road for the first time.
The project will connect the busy Sunbury and Cranbourne/Pakenham lines via the new tunnel, 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 across the city and suburbs and connecting Victorians to jobs, health and education.
“We’re entering a critical phase of testing on the most important rail project in Victoria since the City Loop. This will transform Melbourne’s train network, delivering more trains to and from the suburbs and slashing travel times by up to 50 minutes every day,” Allan said.