Some re-routed Swanston St trams will remain servicing the west of the city long after the Metro Rail project is finished.
At a business briefing on July 10, Melbourne Metro Rail Authority CEO Evan Tattersall said the longer-term plan was to permanently route some Swanston St trams through the CBD’s west.
He said it was yet to determined which Swanston St trams would permanently remain routed up either Elizabeth, William or Spencer streets.
Mr Tattersall said transport authorities recognised the ascendancy of the western end of the CBD, including Docklands, and would respond with more tram services.
Mr Tattersall told the Yarra River Business Association (YRBA) that Swanston St would remain undisturbed between Collins and LaTrobe streets as underground tunneling techniques would be used.
However, the roadway between Flinders and Collins streets and LaTrobe and Franklin streets would be open-cut holes for “years”.
Mr Tattersall said, while it was hoped these areas of Swanston St would remain navigable by pedestrians for the duration of the project, there were no guarantees.
The briefing was told it was hoped that at least one side of Swanston St would remain open for pedestrians at any one time.
Mr Tattersall said there were, similarly, no decisions yet made about what becomes of the undisturbed tram-less and cycle-less sections of Swanston St between Collins and LaTrobe streets during the construction period.
Mr Tattersall said the contractors constructing the underground stations would first have to indicate their preferred routes for trucking out the significant amounts of soil from the excavations.
He said the two CBD stations, CBD North and CBD South, would be constructed at the same time. Of all the “critical assets”, the two stations would take the longest to construct.
Mr Tattersall said specific timelines were yet to be determined, but relocation of tram services were due to start in 2017, with major construction scheduled for 2018.
The Metro Rail project is due for completion in 2026, but Mr Tattersall cautioned that it could be brought forward because of the promise of relief to the existing stressed rail network.
Asked about the biggest challenge the project presented, Mr Tattersall said protecting the amenity of the city during construction was hardest part of the project.
He said the project presented many other challenges, including:
- How to locate services above the City Loop which, in some instances, was only 20 metres below the surface; and
- How to cross the Yarra River.
He said the rail authority was yet to drill a further 160 core samples to determine the geo-technical nature of the terrain along the 9km route from South Kensington to South Yarra.
Mr Tattersall said the detailed preliminary work was fundamental to successful planning and implementation of the project.