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Metro Tunnel

Tunnelling depths and staging

Tunnelling stages

North Melbourne to Kensington

In mid-2019, two tunnel boring machines (TBMs) were assembled at the Arden Station site and launched separately to tunnel towards the western tunnel entrance at Kensington.

In February 2020, the first TBM, Joan, arrived in Kensington and the second TBM, Meg, arrived in March.

Before the TBM’s cutterhead 'broke through' into the retrieval shaft, the shaft was filled with water to balance groundwater levels while the TBM constructed the final section of tunnel. The water was then drained and the TBM retrieved. Water was then pumped back to the water treatment plant at Arden Station site via the TBM.

The rear (gantry) sections of the TBMs travelled back to Arden Station through the constructed tunnel, and the rest of the oversized pieces were transported back at night by truck. The TBMs were then relaunched towards Parkville.

North Melbourne to Parkville

In mid-May 2020, TBM Joan launched from the Arden Station site to tunnel towards Parkville, followed by TBM Meg in June. Joan broke through at the Parkville Station site in late August, while Meg arrived in September 2020.

The TBMs are transferred on steel rails with hydraulic ramps through the station box. This process takes around three weeks, after which the TBMs are cleaned and recommissioned.

Two launch frames are set up at the eastern end of the station box to assist the TBMs in breaking through a ‘soft eye’ (reinforced with fibreglass rather than steel) to begin tunnelling again towards the CBD.

Arden to Parkville alignment map

Parkville to State Library

TBM Joan relaunched in October 2020 to begin tunnelling the one-kilometre stretch from Parkville to the new State Library Station site. TBM Meg followed in November 2020 and is now tunnelling in parallel.

Parkville to CBD tunnel depth

State Library to Town Hall

After TBMs Joan and Meg have arrived at State Library Station, they will relaunch and continue digging towards the Town Hall Station site.

Domain precinct to South Yarra

At the future Anzac Station in the Domain Precinct, TBMs Millie and Alice were assembled in the station box and launched separately to tunnel towards the new tunnel entrance at South Yarra. Millie was launched in April 2020, with Alice following in May.

TBM Millie arrived at South Yarra in September 2020, while TBM Alice broke through in October.

The TBMs will then be transported back to site in Domain.

Domain precinct to CBD

The TBMs will be reassembled in the station box and will start their journey towards the CBD and under the Yarra River.

Tunnel Boring Machine timeline


  • November 2020 - Meg relaunched towards State Library
  • October 2020 - Joan relaunched towards State Library
  • October 2020 - Alice breakthrough at South Yarra
  • September 2020 - Meg breakthrough at Parkville
  • September 2020 - Millie breakthrough at South Yarra
  • August 2020 - Joan breakthrough at Parkville
  • June 2020 - Meg relaunched towards Parkville
  • May 2020 - Joan relaunched towards Parkville
  • May 2020 - Alice launched towards South Yarra
  • April 2020 - Millie launched towards South Yarra
  • March 2020 - Meg breakthrough at Kensington
  • February 2020 - Joan breakthrough at Kensington


  • October 2019 - Meg launched towards Kensington
  • September 2019 - Joan launched towards Kensington

More information