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Metro Tunnel

Building the CBD stations

The construction of the two new stations under Swanston Street in the heart of the city presents a range of engineering and construction challenges.

These include:

  • Navigating existing below-ground infrastructure, such as water, gas and electricity services and the City Loop.
  • Managing the effects on vehicle, pedestrian, cyclist and tram movements.
  • Minimising disruption to residents, traders and businesses.
  • Maintaining a safe environment for the project workforce and the community.

Station construction techniques

To keep Swanston Street open and trams running while the Metro Tunnel is built, access shafts up to 11 storeys deep are being dug adjacent to Swanston Street at City Square, Franklin Street, A'Beckett Street and behind Young and Jackson Hotel.

These shafts will be used to transport machinery, equipment and workers underground. Equipment is then used to excavate and line the stations below the surface of Swanston Street.

This construction approach minimises disruption at surface level and is commonly used overseas, particularly in constrained city environments. The above ground disruption to businesses, cyclists, pedestrians and surrounding streets is greatly reduced as a result.

Tunnelling under the CBD

While tunnel boring machines are being used to build most of the Metro Tunnel, a different method of tunnelling will be used beneath Swanston Street between the two CBD stations.

Due to ground conditions and the number of building basements and foundations in the area, a mined tunnel will see the use of road header machines to excavate the tunnels and station caverns. These machines have a rotating cutter head that is mounted on a boom. After the road headers carve out the tunnel, it is reinforced with a combination of sprayed concrete, rock bolts and a final concrete liner. The stations will be built as 'trinocular' caverns to suit the complex underground conditions.

Three overlapping tunnels will be mined by the road headers to create wide platforms with supporting columns and vaulted ceilings. The total platform width will be around 19 metres – one of the widest metro platforms in the world.

Construction sites

CBD North

Parts of Franklin Street between Elizabeth Street and Victoria Street have been temporarily closed to support construction, along with part of A'Beckett Street. A site near the corner of La Trobe Street and Swanston Street will also be utilised for construction and ultimately be the site of a new station entrance.

CBD South

City Square has been temporarily occupied to create an access shaft, and will ultimately become a station entrance. In addition, there will be a construction site facing onto both Swanston Street and Flinders Street (around, but not including, the Young and Jackson Hotel).

Another construction site will be located at the station's Federation Square entrance at its northwest corner.

Construction activities

Key construction activities include:

  • Preparatory works including tree removal and protection, and the relocation of underground services such as water, electricity, gas, sewers, stormwater and telecommunications.
  • Excavation of construction access shafts.
  • Demolition of buildings at station entrance locations, where required.
  • Excavation of the tunnel between the two CBD stations.
  • Structural works and station entrance connections.
  • Architectural, mechanical and electrical fit-out.
  • Track works and the installation of signalling, safety and communications systems.
  • Site remediation, including landscaping at Swanston Street, City Square and Federation Square.

Acoustic sheds

Temporary acoustic sheds up to 20 metres high will enclose some of Metro Tunnel's CBD construction sites at City Square, Franklin Street and A'Beckett Street.

Acoustic sheds are commonly used during construction of tunnels to minimise noise, light and dust spill on the local community during 24-hour tunnelling activities.

The walls of the sheds include acoustic insulation and will be custom built for each site.

Traffic and transport

The use of mined tunnelling and underground excavation techniques will significantly reduce impacts on Melbourne's CBD, helping to ensure tens of thousands of workers, residents and visitors can continue to access Swanston Street while construction of the new tunnels and stations continues underground.

However, there will still be some unavoidable disruption at surface level and some changes to roads, tram services, and bicycle and pedestrian access will be required to deliver the project.

CBD North

Building the station at CBD North will require the temporary closure of Franklin Street between Swanston Street and Bowen Street to provide for the new station entrance.

Other traffic changes at the northern end of the CBD include the permanent closure of A'Beckett Street to vehicle traffic at Swanston Street, and reduction in the number of traffic lanes on Franklin Street between Swanston Street and Elizabeth Street.

CBD South

At the southern end of the CBD, short-term partial closures of Flinders Street will be required to construct the underground pedestrian connections linking Flinders Street Station and Federation Square to the new station. These works may temporarily impact traffic, trams and footpaths.

See the CBD traffic changes page for more information.

Public transport, cycling and walking

Tram services will continue to run during the Metro Tunnel's construction in the CBD, although some activities are likely to temporarily impact tram services along Swanston, Flinders, Collins and La Trobe streets. Construction activities in the CBD will be carefully managed to minimise disruption to pedestrians and cyclists, especially during peak periods.

Pedestrian and bicycle paths will be maintained around construction sites, and will include arrangements to direct pedestrians and cyclists safely around work areas.

Construction traffic

Construction traffic routes for the CBD aim to move trucks and other construction traffic away from the city as quickly as possible, using major arterial roads such as Victoria Street, Wurundjeri Way, Dudley Street and the Exhibition Street extension.

The impacts of additional traffic will be managed by using detailed traffic management plans. These plans will seek to minimise truck movements during peak periods, manage truck arrivals and departures to avoid trucks queuing in CBD streets, and minimise truck movements past residential areas at night time.

Managing impacts in the CBD

Environmental Performance Requirements (EPRs) have been developed in consultation with key stakeholders throughout Metro Tunnel's planning process to avoid, reduce or manage construction impacts in the CBD. Find out more about managing construction impacts.

Construction timeframes

Construction of the CBD stations and the tunnels under Swanston Street will take around five years to complete.

The target completion date for the project is 2026, which accounts for construction works above and below ground, tunnels and stations fit-out, as well as installation and testing of critical safety systems and the high capacity signalling which needs to be integrated with existing network systems.

The estimated project timelines are due to the scale and complexity of the Metro Tunnel construction, along with Melbourne's challenging ground conditions. MMRA and the construction contractors will work to deliver the project to Victorians as early as possible while maintaining the highest safety and quality standards.