AUSTRALIA: Tracklaying in Melbourne’s cross-city Metro Tunnel has been completed, the Victoria state government confirmed on March 30.
Visiting Parkville station, Acting Premier and Minister for Transport & Infrastructure Jacinta Allan said completion of tracklaying in the 9 km twin-bore tunnels would pave the way for test trains to begin running under the city centre in the second half of the year. The line is now expected to open for revenue service in December 2025.
To provide time for the commissioning and testing of the cross-city link, the government has decided to extend the contract for Metro Trains Melbourne to operate the suburban rail network for a further 18 months from December 2024. It will exercise an option in the A$6·3bn MR4 franchise agreement which began in 2017; this provided for a seven-year term with an optional extension of up to three years.
MTM is a wholly owned subsidiary of Metro Trains Australia, in which Hong Kong’s MTR Corp has a 60% stake while CIMIG Group subsidiary UGL and John Holland each hold 20%. It has been operating suburban services in Melbourne since 2009. The 15 routes serving more than 200 stations are currently carrying around 450 000 passengers per day.
Meanwhile, the state is expected to call tenders for a new contract to operate Melbourne’s 250 km tram network, where the current concession held by the Keolis Downer joint venture also expires in December 2024. Keolis Downer Victoria’s acting CEO Adele McCarthy told local media that the company intended to put in a ‘competitive bid’ to retain the Yarra Trams business, citing ‘the extraordinary work we’ve delivered over the past 14 years’.