Metro Tunnel ‘On Track’ For Success

23 March 2020

Four of Melbourne’s busiest rail lines were replaced by buses for the majority of January, as construction of the Metro Tunnel continued. 

Having commenced in 2018, the Metro Tunnel Project has arranged for the construction of two 9km underground tunnels along the Sunbury, Cranbourne and Pakenham lines. The building of these tunnels aim to eliminate congestion in the city loop, by creating space for other train lines to run more frequent services. The 11 billion dollar project is set to be completed by 2025. 

Alongside the tunnel, this project includes the addition of five new stations, including Parkville station, which is currently being built on campus at The University of Melbourne. Students have often joked that the station will be their “graduation present”, as the station is not set to be finished until at least 2025, long after many current students will have graduated. However, both the station and Metro Tunnel will greatly benefit future students, reducing commute times by up to 20 minutes each way.

Currently, however, the planned constructions have disrupted the usual commute for thousands of Melburnians. The following train routes were disrupted because of these constructions. Buses replaced trains for the majority of January on the Frankston, Sandringham, Pakenham, Werribee, Hurstbridge and Stony Point lines.

As a response to this, Victoria’s Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan has ramped up existing bus and train services, having prepared around 300 replacement buses to transport commuters during this period. Allan acknowledged that the tunnel would cause many inconveniences during this ‘blitz’, but thanked Melburnians for their patience throughout this period. 

These actions meant commuters living along these train lines were subjected to a far greater commute time. Monash University student – and Pakenham resident Helena Granada –  is no stranger to long commutes. On a normal day it takes her an hour and a half to travel into the city by train. However, these bus replacements demand an additional “hour or more” to her usual travel time. Granada, who is currently completing a summer intensive program states that the extended commute minimises time in which she could “potentially be working and studying”. Delays like this have left citizens frustrated and dismayed with this project. 

Regardless of this, construction works are moving according to schedule. The worksincluding the building of 1.8 km of track, installation of six track turnouts and the removal of several dangerous level crossings along the Frankston linewere completed as per schedule. Because of this efficiency the trains were up and running again by the 29th of January, four days before the predicted February 2nd finish date. Although they were unable to offer their personal opinion on the constructions, employees at Swanston Street’s Metro Tunnel HQ confirmed that the works are currently operating on schedule.

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