First trains enter the Metro Tunnel

First trains enter the Metro Tunnel

26 Jul 2023, James Ireland

In its biggest milestone yet, the first test trains have entered the Metro Tunnel.

Early on Tuesday morning, two test trains – one in each of the twin nine-kilometre tunnels – were driven through the eastern entrance of the Metro Tunnel at South Yarra, stopping at Anzac Station.

Metro train driver Sheena Begbie was in one of those first trains. She says, “It was quite surreal seeing everything come together and all the infrastructure in place.

“It was great to see everything that had come together, and all the hard work that everyone had done. It’s going to be a really big achievement for Metro and all involved.”

Metro Tunnel will connect the busy Sunbury and Cranbourne/Pakenham lines via a new tunnel under the city, 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 more often to growing suburbs like Werribee, Sunbury and Frankston.

Years in the making, the milestone marks the start of the Metro Tunnel’s next major testing phase inside the new tunnels and stations, which will stretch well into 2024.

Metro driver Sheena Begbie
Metro driver Sheena Begbie

Over the coming months, the seven-carriage trains will run back-and-forth deep under the CBD and Yarra River, testing complex equipment and systems to ensure they are working seamlessly and safely.

Fundamentals – such as lining the trains up with the platforms – will be tested first, before the team gradually increases the complexity, from one train at low speed using minimal power through to multiple trains at greater speeds.

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, better High Capacity Metro Trains.

This testing phase will continue into next year before the project team moves on to the next major testing phase – trial operations.

This phase will include drivers and station staff running simulated timetabled services in a dress rehearsal to ensure everything is ready for a safe, reliable and efficient opening in 2025, allowing for an extra half a million peak hour passengers each week.

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