The first two test trains entered the Metro Tunnel overnight on 24 July 2023 through the eastern entrance, marking the momentous start to the tunnel’s next major testing phase.
The two trains were sent through the twin tunnels, with one train in each. Both tunnels stretch over 9km, with the test trains driving through the eastern entrance of the Metro Tunnel at South Yarra before stopping at ANZAC Station.
The Metro Tunnel project will connect the busy Sunbury and Cranbourne/Pakenham line via the new tunnel which will be placed under the city, creating an end-to-end rail line from the north-west to the south-east.
The new tunnel will help to free space in the City Loop, allowing more trains to run more frequently to growing suburbs.
The two trains entering the new tunnel mark a milestone in the testing phase, which is expected to continue well into 2024.
Over the coming months, the seven carriage trains will continuously run back-and-forth between the tunnels under the CBD and Yarra River, allowing for extensive testing of equipment and systems to ensure they are working safely and seamlessly.
Fundamental systems, such as lining up the trains with the platforms, will be tested first before the systems gradually grow in complexity.
Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, said that the test trains are a major step towards the completion of the tunnel.
“From a pencilled line on a map to trains in the tunnel – this is the biggest milestone on the Metro Tunnel to date, a major step towards a better train network for Melbourne, ” Mr Andrews said.
“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.”
The testing phase will include 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 and better High Capacity Metro Trains.
Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Jacinta Allan, said all those who worked on the tunnel have helped make the testing phase possible.
“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,” Ms Allan said.
The next phase once the testing is complete will be trial operations.
The trial operations phase will include drivers and stations staff running simulated timetabled services in a dress rehearsal-like scenario to ensure everything is ready for a safe, reliable and efficient opening in 2025, allowing an extra 500,000 peak hour passengers per week.
Featured image: Metro Tunnel, Anzac Station. Image Credit: Metro Tunnel