Rail Projects Victoria has released some draft plans for parts of the Metro 1 project.
The plans include both portals (where the tunnel connects to the existing aboveground tracks) and the western turnback – a facility to be added at West Footscray station to turnback (terminate and/or originate) train services through the tunnel.
Below are some brief notes, but if you want details, you should go read the full draft documents and send in feedback to the project team.
The eastern portal will be near South Yarra station.
The Dandenong line will have a junction near Chapel Street that allows rail traffic to enter the tunnel (likely for all suburban services), or continue on the existing tracks to Richmond (V/Line and freight, and perhaps the occasional sports event special).
South Yarra platforms 5+6 won’t be entirely abandoned – plans released some years ago and newer versions recently leaked both show the platforms being used in the future as the rail network continues to expand.
Note the lack of South Yarra platforms for the tunnel. This is tricky: the only way they could be accommodated is underground, well west of the existing station – making any kind of passenger connection very difficult. The government also claims it could cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and require a lot of land acquisition.
The western portal near South Kensington station does a similar job for the Sunbury line.
Edit: I had thought the plans indicated the existing Sunbury line tracks to North Melbourne were set to be abandoned, but a commenter below found this diagram which shows them still present after the project is complete.
Under normal operations, it’s expected North Melbourne’s platforms will become dedicated to the tracks from Werribee+Williamstown / Upfield / Craigieburn respectively.
(The left of the first diagram below connects to the right of the second diagram)
Notably the tunnel project will include improvements to South Kensington’s station entrance, but it appears no substantial upgrades to the station itself – it’s one of Melbourne’s dingiest, and with steep non-DDA-compliant ramps. Hopefuly there are opportunities to improve the station, including widening the platforms, once the old tracks are removed on the north side.
The western turnback involves additional track and a new platform 1 at West Footscray (which was itself only rebuilt and opened in 2013 as part of the Regional Rail Link project). The new platform will have a completely separate entrance, and is not aligned with the existing ones. Make your own conclusions about forward planning.
I’m not sure why they decided on West Footscray instead of, say, Sunshine. Perhaps it was based on where short starting trains would bring the most benefit in the event of a disruption. As I understand it a similar turnback track is planned near Malvern.
Originating short citybound trains on platform 2 of course is somewhat problematic when passengers will usually board citybound trains on platform 1.
It’s good to see the tunnel project progressing, even if there are questions about parts of the design, and service upgrades are lagging.
Anyway, read more about these plans on the project web site.
The feedback period lasts until 22nd February.