Melbourne's new train tunnel will rival the underground networks of Paris and Hong Kong, with state-of-the-art signalling technology that can run trains every three minutes.
The Victorian government on Monday signed contracts to build the Metro Tunnel project and equip it with high-capacity signalling, closing the gaps in train timetables.
Five new underground stations and tunnels connecting them will be built in Melbourne’s CBD under the $11 billion project.
A consortium of Lendlease, John Holland and Bouygues Construction, and Capella Capital will deliver the $6 billion tunnels and stations package.
Bombardier Transportation and CPB Contractors have also signed a $1.1 billion deal to build the high-capacity signalling upgrade.
Like the metros of Hong Kong and Paris, it will be fitted with modern signalling infrastructure that will communicate with a new fleet of trains.
Premier Daniel Andrews says commuters will be able to throw away the timetable after the Metro Tunnel project is complete.
“This project is all about turn-up-and-go, no-timetable-required public transport,” he told reporters in Melbourne.
“It’s taking our busiest train line out of the city loop and providing it with its own dedicated tunnel.
“The project creates 7000 jobs and gives us a public transport system that is worth leaving the car at home for.”
But the opposition said the project’s costs had blown out and that Mr Andrews had lost control of the budget.
“We see a very clear indication on this project of a blowout already of $2 billion,” opposition public transport spokesman David Davis said.
“This is now common across all of Daniel Andrews’ projects – they are all out of financial control. He can’t manage money.”
In November 2015, the budget was slated to be between $9 billion and $11 billion. The government now says it will be $11 billion, and maintains it is on budget.
Mr Davis said the Metro Tunnel must also be built in a way that allowed it to connect to South Yarra in the future, as the planning panel recommended.
“The stupidity of not connecting South Yarra station, a major growth area, cannot be over-emphasised,” he said.