THE project to build Melbourne’s 9km Metro Tunnel reached a major milestone when the first two seven-car trains entered the twin-bore tunnel on July 25, travelling 1.7km from the South Yarra portal to Anzac station, directly under St Kilda Road.

The project will transform Melbourne’s rail network by diverting services on the Cranbourne, Pakenham and Sunbury lines into the new tunnel, reducing the number of trains operating on the City Loop. This will reduce journey times by up to 50 minutes.

The test runs mark the start of the next major testing phase for the project, which will continue until 2024. Over the coming months, crews will run trains between the five stations on the new line.

Testing will initially begin with basics operations such as stopping trains in the correction position at platforms, before the complexity will increase, from one train at low speed through to several trains at higher speeds in preparation for the project’s opening in 2025, a year ahead of schedule.

The tunnel will provide capacity to accommodate over 500,000 more passengers a week during peak times across Melbourne’s suburban rail network.