What is Metro 2?

If you live in Melbourne, you’ve almost certainly heard of the Melbourne Metro Rail Tunnel project (MMRT for short, but to avoid confusion here, I’ll call it Metro 1).

You may or may not have also heard of the Metro 2 project. So what is it?

It used to be the second stage of Metro 1, but around 2012 that tunnel was changed to be built as one big project.

Metro 2 is a second metro rail tunnel.

It was glimpsed in PTV’s rail plan of 2013, and at the time was seen as a tunnel from the South Morang/Mernda line, just north of Clifton Hill station, diving under Fitzroy (possibly with a station there), Parkville (with interchange to Metro 1), then Flagstaff, Southern Cross, and finally out to new development at Fishermans Bend.

The latest thinking has it extending further, under the river to Newport, to connect with the Werribee line.

This modified plan hasn’t officially been published by PTV, so here’s one I’ve cobbled together that shows it (on top of everything else in Stage 4, much of which seems to be under review):

PTV map (NDP stage 4) modified to show Metro 2

So basically the South Morang/Mernda line would be separated from the Hurstbridge line, boosting capacity on both (and allowing the Doncaster line to be built — though some argue that this can be done sooner, with high-capacity signalling). And the Werribee line would be separated out from the Williamstown and Altona Loop (Laverton) lines.

This has a lot of merit. Although the Werribee line has been freed of the contraints of the Geelong line trains thanks to the Regional Rail Link project, it serves a massive growth area to Melbourne’s south-west, and eventually the line will fill up again. South Morang/Mernda is also seeing a lot of growth, and enabling high frequencies on the line might also make possible a branch to Epping North.

Alongside other rail projects it would improve connections, allowing far more trains to run.

Metro 2 diagram (from Infrastructure Victoria)
(Source: Infrastructure Victoria/KPMG Preliminary Demand Modelling/Economic Appraisal)

Passengers on both lines would have a faster, more direct trip into the CBD, which if accompanied by quality local feeder services (buses) and infrastructure (bus and bike lanes, and pedestrian facilities) would better compete with car travel.

From Werribee the new direct route would make the train a better match for the Westgate Freeway. And not just for western suburbs to CBD commutes; it would also cater much better for trips to the Fishermans Bend area — currently completely noncompetitive by public transport.

If the line ran 15 trains per hour (up from about 7 in the busiest hour now), that’s at least 8800 additional people, assuming 7-car HCMTs, well above what the proposed 3-lane West Gate Tunnel could handle.

But that wouldn’t be stretching the rail infrastructure. More can be squeezed out the current lines right now, and a new tunnel should be able to run at least 24 trains, but up to 30 or more using high capacity signalling, and if built for it, 10-car trains.

Singapore MRT under construction

Some think the ideal time to start building such a project isn’t after the metro tunnel is finished in 2026 — rather, it’s in the next few years — starting with detailed planning, surveying, soil testing, property acquisition, all the stuff that the first metro tunnel went through ten years ago in preparation for major works.

And preferably major works (including excavation) start on Metro 2 as they finish on Metro 1 — which isn’t the end of the first project, but some time early next decade. This would allow expertise and equipment to roll off one onto the next.

There’s a cost to all this of course — well above $10 billion, according to Infrastructure Victoria.

But again, the choice between a project like this and Yet Another Massive Road Project means the difference in future between getting thousands more people onto public transport, or thousands more people onto the roads.

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35 Replies to “What is Metro 2?”

  1. I’m all for rail infrastructure over freeways – every time. However, you almost need 30 TPH guaranteed for starters and with HCMTs and HC signalling to make the massive cost politically justified. Then there is the equity question of priority. Can you justify this built ahead of Doncaster & Rowville (which IMHO should both be light rail) and anything at all to Mickleham?

  2. The west has very little and underserviced public transport options, it’s basically a choice between a very packed and ageing Werribee line or jump in your car. MM2 would be a game changer for us, it’s desperately needed. We can’t wait till we hit 8 million people then start building these projects, we need to start ASAP.

  3. Why shouldn’t Metro 2 start before 2026. Sydney is now beginning construction on the Stage 2 of Sydney Metro before Stage 1 finishes in 2019 and will begin construction of the another new metro line in 2021 before Stage 2 finishes in 2024.

  4. I do not like this Londonisation of our railway network. Lets not forget, that the London Underground is somewhat old technology. Everything about it is old and outdated. Such as having dedicated routes as it does. It was built 100 years ago, back when the whole idea of a metro was a new idea, and has not changed from those ancient and early days of metro railways.

    I am a much greater fan of, alturnating the trains, with both Hurstbridge and Mernder taking turns with the current route, and the currently proposed tunnel route. Or, of diverting some Mernder line trains via the old outer circle railway.

    I do also feel that, Hurstbridge is a better match to Werribee than what the Mernder line is. Or, use/have Altona/Williamstown through route to South Morang.

    I like the additional route between Newport and the city.

    While I am here, is there a Metro three or four being proposed?

  5. The London Underground is being constantly modernised and has provided a solid model copied around the world. The bits that are old fashioned and inefficient gradually get replaced and do not get copied much any more and there are new innovations that get introduced. Separating lines is far more efficient than having junctions, however modern the signalling system, because it creates conflicts. London Underground style frequencies make changing services less painful.

    Werribee and South Morrang/Mernda are/will be both entirely double track railways with currently no regular service intermediate termini or (with the exception of Newport-North Melbourne, which would be bypassed by MM2) express running. The Husrtbridge line has both double and single track and a multitude of running patterns.

  6. Lol at Tranzit Jim who has no idea what he is talking about.

    If you want modern systems being built today (and over the last 50 years) look to Asia. They all operate as completely segregated lines, i.e. complete opposite of what you are suggesting.

    Your suggestion is exactly everything that’s wrong with our current train system.

  7. Melbourne Metro 2 is the project that excites me most. Firstly, it provides a through route for the Werribee line, allowing separation from the Altona and Wiliamstown lines, therefore a better service every day. It also gives the South Morang line independence and opens up new stations at Fishermans Bend and Fitzroy, as well as upgraded ones at Parkville, Flagstaff, Southern Cross, (and one would also assume) Newport and Clifton Hill. I would insist that the extra few billion dollars be spent on a Geelong line project which would see electrification and a new track pair into the city via Werribee and Metro 2 (independent tunnels into Southern Cross). This would free up V/locities to run more on the other lines, and, even if the new electric trains run at 160kph max speed, a faster, more direct service than ever achieved. Finally, the long awaited Doncaster line would become so much easier (politically) to build, Wyndham Vale line could be fixed up and electrified (with new stations), and the Wollert extension could occur. Yes, this is quite a dream, but I believe this is all a necessity as Melbourne is presumably growing to a population of 8 million people.

  8. @Al

    Since Melton line upgrades, but not Melbourne Airport line construction has been announced in conjunction with Metro 1, it is assumed by some that an Airport Link would become a diversion of the Bendigo, and potentially also the Seymour V/Line.

  9. I say, that our City Loop, is a much better system. The four tunnels should have been six, as per the original plans.

    By making passengers change en route, is quite a negative to a number of people. Especially people with mobility issues, and will result in many people preferring to use the automobile.

    There is no way, that you can satisfy everybody. You will always have people who need to change trains at junctions all over the system. We can however, go some way towards catering to a greater range of people.

    The London Undergrounds, Subsurface lines, are a great example in London, while the Deep tube lines, they use rolling stock that is half the size of everybody else, has serious capacity problems due to that.

    Yarra trams have done it great, by having turning trams shunted out of the way while it waits to turn. This is a perfect cushion for knock on delays.

  10. @TranzitJim

    The benefits of not having all the lines converging at one spot, is greater coverage. Such as enabling to access new areas of the CBD. Of course it means maybe more transferring to get btw each line. The benefits of a line to line system outweigh the negatives. Such as easier operations (not change directions as in the loop), also delays won’t cascade onto other lines & providing direct connection from one side to the other side of the CBD.

    Yes some of London use smaller rolling stock due to the smaller tunnels. This is not the case in Melbourne.

    If you’re mentioning the turn backs, there is Westall & eventually West Footscray station for trains on shorter runs when Metro 1 opens, which have a third platform. Essendon & Cheltenham are getting a turn back platform soon. There are details about adding more turn backs in the PTV plan and the Metro Tunnel business case scope.

  11. To Tranzit Jim
    I guess what he means “Londonisation” is making an underground rail line.
    But unfortunately, making a new line running on the ground level is impossible now. How about the elevated line with viaduct? There’re mix reactions from residents from SE you can see recently and if the line is going through the city, it will be a clearance issue etc. So making an underground line is the only way out.

    Everything is outdated. Says the railway system that still using trip stop instead of a proper ATP system.
    Yet the deep level tube is in a smaller size, but how about consider their built year and technique?

    In Tokyo they had a Metro Fukutoshin Line in the West side of the city, linking the railway line from South, Tokyu Toyoko Line and the North to Tobu Tojo Line and Seibu Yurakucho Line. Which I think Metro 2 ‘s concept is very similar.

  12. I agree with @TranzitJim. Railways are already restrictive enough, being required to run on… rails! Whereas roads help provide freedom and choice. Totally segregating lines is going further down the path of limiting people’s choice and freedom.

  13. @Kevin and TranzitJim. All modern metros have segregated lines or minor branches and they work fine as the frequencies are high enough to make convenient interchanges. MM2 will allow for these higher frequencies. It is unrealistic to have a rail system that allows for one seat direct journeys in a city that will soon become a megacity.

  14. I wonder what would have been done by the crossings at Spotswood, Maddox Road and Old Geelong Road by the time Metro 2 is nearly finished.

  15. Didn’t one proposal include an underground station at Montague as well as Fishermen’s Bend? If so, I hope that’s what they go with.

    Given that peak hour 96 trams are now at crush load, it begs the question given the location of a Montague station wouldn’t be far from the South Melbourne 96 stop, would it be feasible to regauge the section of route 96 from St Kilda station and further inbound back to broad gauge and then run the line underground past South Melbourne heading inbound through to the proposed underground Montague Station? It would mean having two lines branch into Montague station inbound, but hopefully high capacity signalling would make it feasible. Furthermore, will even the largest capacity trams be able to cope on route 96 during peak hour in decades to come?

  16. The Fishermans Bend Station should not be underground – it should be open to the elements.

    And why must MCG access be taken away from the South Morang line that has had it for 100 years? Why not make the Doncaster line go to Flagstaff instead?

    People have purchased houses along the South Morang railway for the past 100 years knowing that they can access the MCG and Flinders Street Station – to take it away and give it to the people of Doncaster (who never had it) is ridiculous.

    What kind of trains will go to the airport? Other nations build 160 km/h airport railways that have few stations and trains that have space for luggage. Or will it be a junk train like Sydney.

  17. i think if this plan is envisioned, the laverton / altona loop line should take the full length of the route from newport to footscray and leave williamstown as a shuttle service. i can’t see why someone on the w’town line wouldnt just change at newport and have faster access to the same terminus

  18. Jacob

    The I suspect part of the reason is that they want eliminate the curves around Rushall. They’re unsafe to travel quickly over.

    The South Morang (soon to be Mernda!) is still going to stop at the upgraded Clifton Hill so we will still be able to change there. In some respects it will triplicate our route into Fitzroy by tram but it will open up our access to the University.

  19. Who’s going to be the first politician to utter the words “Melbourne Metro 2 rail tunnel” I wonder?

    Big prize for whoever it is!

    Ditch the silly Westgate Tunnel, and give the people of the West and North some truly inspiring transport connectivity.

  20. I think that #MelbMetro2 should go up the Eastern Freeway to Doncaster with a new station between Clifton Hill and Victoria Park to allow passengers to interchange. Such a new station would be quite an engineering feat given that the current line there is high above the Eastern Fwy & a Doncaster Rail line would be at ground level or even below (as it would be just about to dip underground through Collingwood). I envisage that many massive, futuristic lifts would be needed to transfer hundreds of passengers at a time at peak hour.

    My reasoning for saying that #DoncasterRail should be built as part of #MelbMetro2 includes:

    1) #DoncasterRail is long, long overdue and would be of enormous benefit to Melbourne, bringing the whole Doncaster corridor, hitherto unserviced by rail, into the network.

    2) building #DoncasterRail would set any attempt to resurrect the East West Link back for years.

    3) we need rapid east-west connections across the north of the inner city so there should be new stations at or near
    – cnr of Johnson & Smith Sts, Collingwood
    – cnr of Johnson & Brunswick Sts, Fitzroy
    – cnr of Faraday & Lygon Sts, Carlton
    or at least two of those.

    4) making Doncaster Rail run through to Parkville station would also get Doncaster residents easy access to the MelbMetro1.

    5) there would be a compound benefits by
    connecting Newport trains (i.e. Werribee) to Fishermans Bend and then the CBD,
    connecting MelbMetro2 to MelbMetro1 at Parkville,
    servicing the inner north by an east-west metro service,
    connecting MelbMetro2 to the Mernda & Hurstbridge lines, and
    servicing the suburbs in the Doncaster corridor by rail for the very first time.

    And the volume of traffic on the Eastern Freeway should be much, much lower after it is built than it otherwise would be.

    Of course it would be extraordinarily expensive – at a guess I think it would be the biggest infrastructure project in Melbourne’s history – but let’s see how the tunnel building costs come down due to the forthcoming competition from Elon Musk’s Boring Company. (https://www.boringcompany.com)

  21. Once it’s built, the Newport to Sunshine Line can be electrified to extend the benefits of the project to all the lines coming out of Sunshine (including electrified Melton and the possible airport line using the Albion-Jacana line), and a new infill station at South Kingsville in the existing residential area.

  22. It would also be nice to extend the Laverton-via-Altona line down through Altona Meadows, into Point Cook and through to new growth areas in Werribee South and East. And if we’re being very ambitious and Avalon Airport grows a lot in patronage, all the way to there. This would stop it from being an awkward one stop spur from the Grovedale line and create a dynamic growth corridor.

  23. Agree with Frank re having a station in Fitzroy and/or Carlton, prob Fitzroy makes most sense, it’s a popular strip, but so is Lygon, but that’s a bit close to the park ville station ….hmmm dunno then.

    Also agree re Doncaster line, why not add that to the tunnel ?

    And while on that topic, why do the plans for the north East link not include provision for the Doncaster kind if it’s part of the plan ?

    Though personally I think a light rail that can run further down Doncaster Road st one end, and along Alexandra Ave at the other to Nicholson and then Bourke would be far cheaper and just as convenient – unless projected patronage would be so great that only a train would do.

  24. I’m not sure about the likelihood of Flagstaff being expanded. They didn’t expand Melbourne Central and instead build Library station a hundred metres away.

    The West is a priority, and while it will be from the West to Mernda, I hope this will eventually change to being the West to Doncaster once Doncaster is built. I’m not a fan at all of light rail being used for long routes .

  25. None of this makes any sense without looking at trip patterns, origins, destinations, frequencies, and all that not just now but in the future and with an analysis of the energetic of a sprawling metropolis. Richard Di Natalie suggests a three day working week, but what work will be done where in greenhouse world where oil has dried up agriculture is collapsing and our mineral boom has died? .. I suggest going back to the drawing board and first off scrapping any population growth so maybe there is something to be salvaged from the train wreck.

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