Construction of the new Anzac underground railway station in central Melbourne is a year ahead of schedule, despite cost blowouts and mounting scrutiny over the $11-billion Melbourne Metro project.
The station, part of the twin-nine kilometre rail network, which will run through the central business district from South Kensington to South Yarra, is quickly taking shape after three years of underground construction.
Speaking at a site walk-through on Monday, Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan said the station, at the intersection of Albert and Domain roads, was on schedule.
“Anzac Station will be a central hub for public transport in the St Kilda Road precinct,” Allan said.
“It will deliver safe and convenient options to change between trains and trams and visit popular tourist destinations on this historic boulevard.”
Anzac Station has been the hub for the project’s tunnelling operations in the east as well as the entry point for two tunnel boring machines that have tunnelled to South Yarra and are now heading towards the CBD on their final leg.
The station will be the first in Melbourne with direct platform-to-platform connection to a new tram stop in the middle of St Kilda Road.
“The station will be a landmark in itself with its unique floating wooden canopy design, becoming a gateway to major cultural destinations such as the Shrine of Remembrance, Royal Botanic Gardens, Arts Centre precinct and Albert Park,” Allan said.
St Kilda Road has also been redesigned to accommodate a kilometre of protected kerbside bike lanes that will be built to run in both directions between Dorcas Street and Toorak Road.
The new cycle corridor will physically separate cyclists from traffic, as well as keeping pedestrians safer as they get on and off trams—with fewer lanes to cross when heading to and from Anzac Station.
“This new layout will keep pedestrians safer as they get on and off trams at what will be one of the city’s busiest tram stops in the centre of the road,” Allan said.
“Further planning is also under way that will provide options for safe cycle lanes along the rest of the St Kilda Road corridor, leveraging the new separated lanes delivered by the City of Melbourne.”
The entire rail project was earmarked for completion by 2025, however, long-running design and cost disputes—partially due to the scope of the project being widened and unexpected technical risks—have pushed back delivery dates.
Late last year, Victorian taxpayers were forced to pump an extra $1.37 billion into the rail project after the state government agreed to a 50-50 settlement with the Cross Yarra Partnership.
The cost of the rail project was found to have blown out by $2.74 billion after a second audit by Victoria’s Auditor-General.
The settlement was reached after a year of negotiations, which saw construction work temporarily grind to a halt in December 2019, between the government and the contractors,
Construction of deep access shafts in the CBD was found to be one of the main causes of the unexpected costs, as well as Rail Projects Victoria underestimating the technical difficulty of building the shafts and the geological conditions.
Cost blowouts were also caused by a redesign of the strutting system used in the State Library station access shafts after excavation works had started, which reduced the capacity and type of excavation equipment that could be used.
The state government says that the new Metro Tunnel will allow more than half a million extra passengers to use Melbourne’s rail network during peak periods every week, and save people up to 50 minutes each day during their commutes.