Final tracks laid through the Metro Tunnel

Final tracks laid through the Metro Tunnel

Test trains will soon be running through the Metro Tunnel after the final tracks were laid through the new tunnels for this city-shaping project.

Crews put down the final lengths of Australian-made steel rail on the tracks just a few weeks ago, finishing nine months of work along the twin nine-kilometre tunnels and stations.

It’s a major milestone for the project as teams prepare to run the first test train in the second half of 2023, kicking off a meticulous testing period to ensure the Metro Tunnel is safe and ready for passengers in 2025 – a year ahead of schedule.

Before the track could be laid, crews had to install 4000 high-performance concrete panels to create an even base for the rail and ensure it was properly aligned.

The panels were cast in 300 different shapes to match the curvature and elevation of the tunnels as they wind from Kensington to South Yarra, up to nearly 40 metres underground. The 236 lengths of steel rail are extremely strong, but flexible enough to curve along the tunnels where needed.

The lengths of rail – each measuring 165m – were installed by clipping them to the concrete panels and welding them together to form a continuous line.

This track design being used on the Metro Tunnel is similar to the City Loop tracks but more advanced and is being used on major rail projects across the world. It requires less maintenance than conventional tracks and is therefore ideal for tunnels.

The testing phase will make sure the Metro Tunnel’s complex systems are working together with the new bigger, better trains, alongside the wider network’s existing signalling system – an incredibly complex process.

Meanwhile, work will continue to fit out the five new underground stations with lifts, escalators, security systems, CCTV, passenger information displays and emergency phones.

Parkville Station will be on the doorstep of Victoria’s world-renowned education, health and research precinct, providing rail access to the University of Melbourne, The Royal Melbourne Hospital, the Royal Women’s Hospital and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre for the first time. 

Once complete, the Metro Tunnel Project will create capacity for more than half-a-million extra passengers each week during peak times and save passengers in the suburbs up to 50 minutes a day on a return trip.•

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