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.
Enormous progress is also being made at Arden Station, where work is continuing on installing architectural features
Crews put down the final lengths of Australian-made steel rail on the tracks only recently, finishing nine months of work along the twin nine-kilometer 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 meters 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 165 metres – 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 MetroTunnel 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 MetroTunnel’s complex systems are working together with the new bigger, better trains, alongside the wider network’s existing signaling 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.
At Arden progress is being made on land-scaping out the front of the station. Tree pits and garden beds will all be planted for future growth to improve the urban canopy, provide shade, and capture stormwater.
Once complete, the Metro Tunnel Project will create capacity for more than half-a-mil-lion extra passengers each week during peak times and save passengers in the suburbs up to 50 minutes a day on a return trip.