Melbourne Metro – details finally revealed?

In recent years the Melbourne Metro rail tunnel has been an on and off again project, which to the public has just been a line drawn north-south over a map of the Melbourne CBD. I pieced together whatever plans I could find a few years ago, but the recent publication of the Melbourne Metro business case dated December 2011 was a big win – it features the gory technical details I have been hanging out for. So let’s take a look!

Figure 5-8 Concept for CBD North Station

Some background

My initial blog post covers the origins of the Melbourne Metro concept – a short summary:

  • 2008: ‘East West Link Needs Assessment Study‘ produced by Sir Rod Eddington features a 17 kilometre long tunnel, to be built in two stages under Swanston Street.
  • September 2009: Release of design concepts for the new underground stations.
  • 2011: Victorian Government goes to Infrastructure Australia for help funding a shorter 9 kilometre tunnel, to be built in single stage and terminating at South Yarra instead of Caulfield.
  • 2012: Visitors on my blog speculate regarding the depth of the tunnel – will it be deep under the existing City Loop tunnels as per early plans, or cut and cover down Swanston Street?
  • May 2014: Liberal Government under Premier Denis Napthine proposes an alternate Melbourne Rail Link plan.
  • April 2015: Labour Government under Premier Daniel Andrews announces Melbourne Metro is again the preferred project, via a shallow tunnel under Swanston Street.

And finally, here we are in May 2015 with the Heral Sun uploading a copy of a planning document dated December 2011 – you can download the full document here.

Planning stages

Inside the business case the reasoning behind how the chosen alignment was decided upon is given, as well as the alternate routes that were rejected.

Figure 4-1 shows the rail corridor options initially considered back in 2007-2008, which resulted in a north-south tunnel being preferred.

Figure 4-1 Melbourne Metro corridor options

With a route decided upon, station locations and the alignment of the tunnel had to be decided upon.

Figure 4-3 shows the station and alignment options considered.

Figure 4-3 Station and alignment options

The options were presented in a schematic form in figure 4-4.

Figure 4-4 Station and alignment option combinations

Options for the alignment between Domain station and Caulfield also had to be considered – figure 4-5 shows these.

Figure 4-5 MM2 alignment options between Domain and Caulfield

A result of the above work, in 2011 the decision was to build the Melbourne Metro as a single stage, with two CBD stations, a rail tunnel beneath Swanston Street, and a southern connection to the rest of the network at South Yarra station. The business case had this to say about this choice:

Preliminary assessments of Russell Street and Elizabeth Street alignments indicated that they would be $430 million and $600 million more expensive than the default, respectively.

Investigation of a western CBD alignment via William Street was pursued at the request of City of Melbourne. A William Street alignment through the CBD would also cost an additional $470 million.

A single CBD station would provide a considerably poorer outcome in terms of interchange with the existing rail network, access to employment and other activities and relief to the tram network. It would result in 15% fewer passengers using MM compared to the default arrangement of two CBD stations.

Recent investigations have confirmed Toorak Road as a feasible alternative to the default scheme which provides similar benefits earlier and [snip] and significant short-medium term cost savings of $2.5 billion compared to the full default scheme.

Another decision to be made was the vertical alignment. Back in 2008 the East-West Link Needs Assessment ‘Analysis on Rail Capacity’ document featured two deep tunnel options, both of which passed below the existing City Loop and CityLink tunnels.

Proposed Melbourne Metro tunnel profile beneath Swanston Street

The 2011 business case had this to say on the alignment options:

The initial concept that underpinned the 2010 business case adopted a vertical alignment of the tunnels in Swanston Street which passed underneath the existing Melbourne Underground Rail Loop (MURL) tunnels east of Melbourne Central. This resulted in relatively deep and expensive station boxes, with CBD North being 43m deep at track level. This option included a maximum grade of 3.5%.

Following the peer review, further detailed work was undertaken during 2011 to assess constructability and feasibility of a shallower tunnel and stations along Swanston Street and to refine the alignment and station configurations. A shallower (higher) alignment would result in a better outcome for passengers and may provide cost savings.

The constructability assessment showed that a high alignment was feasible, though the tunnels would be more expensive to build and disruption would be more significant. The Yarra River crossing would also present greater challenges and risks. Significant cost savings would be expected in construction of the stations however.

A comparison of the high and low level alignment is shown diagrammatically in Figure 4-11.

Figure 4-11 MM vertical alignment options

A comparison of the station depths was also included in Table 4-9.

Table 4-9 Station depths with tunnel alignments

The business case went into the benefits of the shallower tunnel for passengers:

The improved access associated with the high alignment and shallower stations reduces passenger walking time to surface at CBD North Station by around 90 seconds and CBD South Station by around 60 seconds.

It also went into how a shallow crossing of the Yarra River would be built:

The Yarra crossing is proposed as an immersed tube construction due to the shallow depth of the alignment. This method requires dredging of the river bed prior to floating into the place the prefabricate tube sections. It is proposed to construct the tube sections on the south bank of the river on east of the existing boat sheds.


Once the stations locations were settled, the entrances to said stations also had to be decided upon.

Each of two CBD stations have been provided with two concourses (at the north and south ends of the station) while the other stations have been only provided with one (in the centre of the station).


From the 2011 business case:

Nine potential station entrances were examined. One station entrance was assessed as sufficient.

And a matching render from the PTV website circa-2012:

Arden station overview, looking north-west at the corner of Laurens Street and new east-west streets


From the 2011 business case:

Nineteen potential station entrance locations were proposed for the Parkville station.

Figure 4-14 Parkville preferred entrance options

Two main entrances on the east and west side of Royal Parade were identified as important. In addition, three special entrances were considered, notably the train-to-tram interchange in Royal Parade and direct concourse access to the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC) and the Peter Doherty Buildings.

A matching artists impression from 2012:

Parkville, artists impression of station entrances

And an earlier design concept dated 2009, which still fits in with later plans.

Parkville station cutaway view, looking north-west

CBD North

From the 2011 business case:

Eleven potential station entrance locations were examined, including interchanging with Melbourne Central Station. The preferred option for interchange is a subterranean concourse under La Trobe Street linking directly to the existing and proposed concourses at each station.

Figure 4-15 CBD North Station entrance options

Entrances 2 (north-west corner of Swanston and La Trobe Sts) and 8 (south-west corner of Swanston and Franklin Streets) were assessed as the best primary entrances points accounting for passenger flows and known constraints. Entrance 9 (south-east corner Swanston and Franklin Streets) would be an alternative entrance to Entrance 8 if Franklin Street is closed to traffic east of Swanston Street.

An entrance at the south-east corner of La Trobe and Swanston Street (State Library) (Entrance 1) is not proposed due to heritage considerations of this site. Consideration was given to a more direct connection with the heart of RMIT University on the east side of Swanston Street (3, 4 and 5) but not pursued to avoid disruption to RMIT’s main campus.

Figure 5-8 from the same document shows the concept for CBD North, with the station located north of La Trobe Street, with the tram tracks splitting around the glass roof that covers the concourse.

Figure 5-8 Concept for CBD North Station

That design matches this circa-2012 artists impression of the station concourse.

CBD North station, artists impression of the concourse

It also matches this cross section diagram of the station, which was found in the media pack for the April 2015 announcement of the preferred shallow tunnel route.

Shallow Melbourne Metro tunnel profile at CBD North station

CBD South

From the 2011 business case:

Twelve potential station entrance locations were examined.

Figure 4-16 CBD South entrance options

The option taken forward for the purpose of the 2010 business case was a ‘paid area’ subterranean concourse at the east end of Flinders Street, providing direct connection to the existing Flinders Street platforms via lifts (escalators were not considered feasible). During 2011, further options have been considered in the context of the shallower (high) tunnel alignment. A simpler connection between the subterranean CBD South concourse and the existing Flinders Street concourse is now proposed.

The following entrances are the optimal locations:

  • Entrances 3 (Swanston Street opposite St Paul’s) and 4 (City Square) are the recommended primary entrances.
  • Entrances 2 (Federation Square) and 6 (Flinders Lane/St Paul’s) are also deemed to be desirable to spread pedestrian demand to the east (less crowded) side of Swanston Street. Entrance 2 at Federation Square would be important in handling event patronage.

Direct access to the south-west corner of Swanston Street/Collins Street was considered to better support this interchange but is not proposed due to the impact and cost of land acquisition in that location.

Figure 5-9 from the same document shows the concept for CBD South, where a single concourse is located directly above the station platforms.

Figure 5-9 Concept for CBD South Station (long section)

Figure 5-10 shows how the concourse at CBD South with interchange with Flinders Street Station.

Figure 5-10 Concept for CBD South Station Interchange with Flinders Street Station

Further detail of the interchange passageway was found in the 2012 Flinders Street Station Design Competition Design Brief document. From the side:

CBD South station, profile view of linkage to Flinders Street Station

And from the top:

CBD South station, plan view of linkage to Flinders Street Station

The design matches this circa-2012 artists impression of the Collins Street entry at Town Hall.

CBD South station, Collins Street entry at Town Hall

But this undated view of the Flinders Street end is a little confusing – to me it seems to be showing the deep level option.

CBD South station, cutaway view at Flinders Street end


From the 2011 business case:

Twenty-three potential station entrances were examined.

Figure 4-17 Domain station entrance location options

The preferred entrance locations are at 17 (corner St Kilda Road and Bowen Crescent) and 16 (corner St Kilda Road and Bromby Street). An additional direct access to the new tram interchange above the station in St Kilda Road is also proposed.

Figure 5-11 from the same document shows the intended ground level arrangement of Domain Station.

Figure 5-11 Concept for Domain Station (ground level plan)

Again, a match for the circa-2012 artists impressions.

Domain station overview, artists impression looking north-west

Domain station, trio of entrances at the corner of St Kilda and Domain Roads

How to build it

With design decisions completed, chapter 5 of the business case then looked at the scope of preferred scheme.

Figure 5-3 provides a horizontal alignment overview of the tunnel.

Figure 5-3 MM tunnel horizontal alignment overview

Figure 5-4 shows the vertical alignment.

Figure 5-4 MM tunnel vertical alignment overview

And Figure 5-5 shows the geological makeup along the route.

Figure 5-5 MM tunnel geological long section

Characteristics and design parameters for the underground stations are presented in Figure 5-7.

Figure 5-7 MM underground station characteristics and design parameters

Figure 5-12 shows the intended construction methods – mostly bored tunnels, with cut and cover work through the CBD, and immersed tubes under the Yarra River.

Figure 5-12 Construction method

And Figure 5-14 shows potential site that can be redeveloped once construction in the CBD has been completed.

Figure 5-14 Potential over-site development locations

I’m sure glad the the full document finally saw the light – you can take a look at the full document here.

Confused sports fans shut down a rail network

One would think that shutting down an entire city’s rail network would be difficult – but unfortunately Metro Trains Melbourne proved that a few confused sports fans can do just that. So how the hell did they do it?

All trains between Richmond and Flinders Street stopped due to a trespasser on the tracks

Back on March 29 the Melbourne Cricket Ground hosted the final of the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup. The game finished well into the evening, so many in the crowd of over 90,000 people headed towards Richmond station to catch a train.

At 10:27 PM Metro Trains posted the following tweets.

Tim Malone posted this photo of Flinders Street Station platform 14 to Twitter a few minutes later:

And followed it up with this report from the scene.

So how did thousands of people end up walking down the train tracks?

In my attempts to find the above tweets, I found a very interesting thread on /r/Cricket

Walking back from the MCG last night on the train tracks?
March 30, 2015

So I must admit, I was pretty wasted after the game last night. I was in a group of 4 people who looked at the crazy busy bridge back in to the city and thought “nah, let’s find another way”. We ended up walking just to the side of the bridge and all of a sudden we were walking right beside all the flinders street train lines, with nothing resembling a fence in the way! Hundreds of people kept walking and eventually we ended up in the train station.

Is this is common shortcut used regularly? I’ve only been in Melbourne 3 years and I’ve never seen it before.

There were only two comments – the first pretty useless:


And the second very illuminating:

Haha we got caught up in the herd as well. Funny stuff. I had my 2 month old strapped to my chest and was getting increasingly anxious. Thankfully the metro staff came along, opened the gate and saved the day.

Still trying to convince the missus it was quicker than the bridge.

Doing some digging

The bridge referred to in the Reddit thread was the William Barak Bridge – one of many pedestrian bridges that cross the railway tracks between Richmond and Flinders Street Station, this one links the western side of the MGC to Birrarung Marr and Federation Square.

William Barak Bridge looking south-east

And the “walking to the side of the bridge” referred to was Jolimont Street.

Jolimont Street beside the William Barak Bridge

The street ends at a T intersection, with the north leg forming Jolimont Road towards Wellington Parade, and the south leg following the railway tracks as Brunton Avenue.

There is also a gate on the other side that Metro Trains Melbourne uses to access the rail corridor.

Cars exit the rail access gate - May 2014

This gravel tracks runs beside the tracks towards the city.

Access track linking Flinders Street 'A' box at Jolimont Road to the traction substation next to the Clifton Hill Group tracks

With it ending at a number of railway related buildings located next to Wellington Parade.

Apartment complex on Wellington Parade South curves around the footprint of the Burnley and Caulfield Loop tunnels

So what actually happened?

I wasn’t there on March 29, but this is what I think happened.

  • One sports fan decided to dodge the crowds heading over the William Barak Bridge, and opted to take Jolimont Street instead.
  • At the T junction with Brunton Avenue, they hit a dead end.
  • In front of them they saw a gravel path and no gate blocking their way – with the CBD skyline in front of them, the path looks like the best option.
  • Next thing they knew, they were walking beside the railway tracks.
  • Other sports fans leaving the MCG saw other people taking a short cut, so decided to follow them.

Next thing you know, you have a few hundred people walking beside the tracks, who eventually get spotted by a train driver, who reports the incident to train control who stop the trains.

How do you end up on an access track?

In theory a railway access track should never be used as a shortcut – fences are designed to keep out the general public! However in the case the gate leading to the tracks between Richmond and Flinders Street, the gate is never locked, as these Google Street View images show…

November 2007.

Open rail access gate - November 2007

December 2009.

Open rail access gate - December 2009

March 2014.

Open rail access gate - March 2014

May 2014.

Open rail access gate - May 2014

September 2014.

Open rail access gate - September 2014

November 2014.

Open rail access gate - November 2014

December 2014.

Open rail access gate - December 2014

Not to mention that a few years ago I spotted an open gate on the opposite side of the tracks.

Open gate - great security...

Who wants to buy Metro Trains a “Shut the damn gate” sign?

'Danger Rail Corridor' sign on a locked gate

On the subject of security

Remember back in September 2014 how rubbish bins were removed from Melbourne’s railway stations due to security concerns?

PTV said in a statement operators were undertaking “a range” of precautionary security measures across the network, including the removal of rubbish bins at key locations.

“This is in line with the general increase in the security alert, not specifically because of any threat to public transport,” PTV said.

Letting any Tom, Dick and Harry wander along the tracks and beneath Federation Square sounds like a bigger security risk that a few rubbish bins!


On the evening April 25 the spots precinct again played host to a major sporting event – and trains were again shut down between Richmond and Flinders Street due to trespassers on the track. Initially I thought it was an example of lost sporting fans ending up on the tracks, but I was later informed that the cause of the disruption was someone threatening self harm.

Then and now via Google Street View

The other day I was trawling through Google Street View imagery while researching a future blog post, when I discovered something I had almost forgotten about – Google Street View now supports the ‘time’ dimension.

At first I was looking at the most up to date imagery of the address – from May 2013.

KFC restaurant - Cnr High Street & Carool Road, Ashburton, Victoria

I was able to step back in time to November 2009, where I found an abandoned KFC restaurant with a ‘For Sale’ sign out the front.

KFC restaurant - Cnr High Street & Carool Road, Ashburton, Victoria

And by stepping back further to January 2008, the KFC store was still open for business, selling greasy chicken.

KFC restaurant - Cnr High Street & Carool Road, Ashburton, Victoria

As for why I was chasing up KFC restaurants on Google Street View, you can find the end results in my post on closed down KFC stores of Melbourne.

Melbourne’s first rooftop restaurant

Modern day Melbourne is well known for rooftop bars, and even high class restaurants at the top of tall skyscrapers (I’m looking at you Vue de Monde). So in a recent research expedition, I was somewhat surprised to find that 447 Collins Street once had a rooftop restaurant.

Northern facade of the National Mutual Plaza, on Collins Street Melbourne

Completed in 1965 as ‘National Mutual Plaza’, the building made it into the new in January 2012, when a granite panel on the northern facade fell 10 storeys to the plaza below.

I first found a reference to the rooftop restaurant in the May 22, 1970 edition of The Age, in an advertisement sitting beside the newspaper masthead.

Masthead of The Age - May 22, 1970

The name of the restaurant was ‘Top of the Town’ – not to be confused with the current day ‘establishment’ down the seedy end of Flinders Street!

Rooftop restaurant at the National Mutual Centre: The Age May 22, 1970

I’m not sure of the exact opening date, but on the eve of Melbourne Cup Day 1964, the brand new restaurant hosted a fundraising dinner dance that was organised by Edith Bolte, wife of then-Premier Henry Bolte.

Top of the Town emphasised the breathtaking views to be found from the restaurant, such as this advertisement in the dining out guide of The Age – dated February 18, 1969.

Top of the Town restaurant: The Age - Feb 18, 1969

These photos by Lyle Fowler show the view soon after the completion of the National Mutual Centre in 1965.

View from roof of National Mutual Centre - SLV image a44461
Photo by Lyle Fowler, SLV collection. Accession No: H92.20/7649. Image No: a44461

South-west view from roof of National Mutual Centre - SLV image a44463
Photo by Lyle Fowler, SLV collection. Accession No: H92.20/7651. Image No: a44463

By the time the 1970s rolled around, the name of the restaurant appears to have changed – this advertisement from the May 9, 1972 edition of The Age features three restaurants at the top of the town – ‘Nip-In’, ‘Boardroom’ and ‘Pamplemousse’ as well as ‘new decor and design’.

Pamplemousse restaurant, 447 Collins Street: The Age - May 9, 1972

This advertisement for an executive chef dated July 17, 1970 has the restaurant still named ‘Top of the Town’.

Eventually the ‘Pamplemousse’ name stuck, as did the Johnny Edwards Trio: I found this advertisement from 9 November 1979, as well as this one from 30 December 1980:

Pamplemousse restaurant: The Age - Dec 30, 1980

From there the trail dries up: I found a final advertisement dated May 12, 1981 – then a dead end. The Google News archive of The Age itself ends at December 1989, but the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

Does anyone out there know when the Pamplemousse restaurant closed?


Here is the Google Maps satellite view of the rooftop of 447 Collins Street – there doesn’t seem to be much up there other than air conditioning chiller units and plant rooms. Maybe the restaurant was on the top floor of the office section?

Rooftop of 447 Collins Street

More clues

In March 2012 architectural historian Miles Lewis completed a report on the National Mutual Centre for the City of Melbourne. In it, he cites the following from a contemporary description of the building:

To keep the plaza alive when the office crowds are gone, there will be
out-of-hours use of the theatrette, squash courts, observation deck and roof-top restaurant; and, although a little out of the way for general pedestrian use, the fountain will provide a spectacle worth visiting. …

Architectural historian Peter Andrew Barrett also had this to say in a Facebook post dated June 2014:

Internally the building had squash courts in the roof space (where the signage is), and on the top floor was the upmarket Pamplemousse Restaurant. Diners in the 1960s and 70s at the restaurant could step out on to the balcony after their meals and enjoy the expansive views the building provided.

I wonder if there are any interior photos of the restaurant and rooftop squash courts out there?

Closed down KFC stores of Melbourne

There is something about the architecture of KFC fast food restaurants – you can spot them from a mile away. So what happens when they close down, and how have they changed over the years?

Abandoned KFC fast food restaurant in Morwell

A few years ago I stumbled on a Kentucky Fried Chicken advertisement from 1982, that listed all 35 restaurants scattered around Melbourne, as well as the three in Geelong.

In the years since, some didn’t change at all – the store in Ashburton went almost untouched until it was demolished in 2009.

KFC restaurant - Cnr High Street & Carool Road, Ashburton, Victoria

The same applies to the store in Newport, which closed down by the Google Street View came past in 2007.

KFC restaurant - 450 Melbourne Road, Newport, Victoria in 2007

Others have just received new KFC branding over the original building, the the KFC in Highett.

KFC restaurant - 1121 Nepean Highway, Highett, Victoria

However not all stores have survived, such as the original KFC at Frankston, which became a Mexican restaurant.

KFC restaurant - 14 Beach Street, Frankston, Victoria

Up in Ferntree Gully a succession of different restaurants have occupied the former KFC.

Former KFC restaurant - 930 Burwood Highway, Ferntree Gully, Victoria

In Thornbury the KFC moved to a new store next door, with the old building being split into two, with Subway and Cheesecake Shop moving in.

KFC restaurant - 389 St Georges Road, Thornbury, Victoria

However the strangest conversion was in Seaford, where a dry cleaner took over the tiny take-away only Kentucky Fried Chicken store.

KFC restaurant - 109 Nepean Highway, Seaford, Victoria

The full list

Here is the full list of KFC stores from the 1982 advertisement:

  • Cnr High St & Carool Road, Ashburton
  • Cnr Burwood & Albert Roads, Auburn
  • 289 Carlisle Street, Balaclava
  • 129a High Street, Belmont
  • 845 Whitehorse Road, Box Hill
  • 460 Geelong Road, Brooklyn
  • Cnr Centre Road & Audsley Street, Clayton
  • 137 Bell Street, Coburg
  • 29 Lonsdale Street, Dandenong
  • Cnr Darcy & Doncaster Roads, Doncaster
  • Cnr Bell & Albert Streets, East Preston
  • 1293 Sydney Road, Fawkner
  • 930 Burwood Highway, Ferntree Gully
  • 281 Smith Street, Fitzroy
  • 368 Barkly Street, Footscray
  • 14 Beach Street, Frankston
  • 257 Springvale Road, Glen Waverley
  • Cnr Lower Heidelberg Road & Villa Street, Heidelberg
  • 1121 Nepean Highway, Highett
  • Cnr High & Derby Streets, Kew
  • 157 Nepean Highway, Mentone
  • Cnr Mt Alexander Road & Hall Street, Moonee Ponds
  • 450 Melbourne Road, Newport
  • 91a Keilor Road, Niddrie
  • 431 Princes Highway, Noble Park
  • 217 Melbourne Road, North Geelong
  • Cnr Varman Court & Whitehorse Road, Nunawading
  • 638 North Road, Ormond
  • 379 Chapel Street, Prahran
  • Cnr High & Lemington Street, Reservoir
  • 387 Maroondah Highway, Ringwood
  • Cnr Sims Street & Beach Road, Sandringham
  • 109 Nepean Highway, Seaford
  • Cnr Dandenong & Police Roads, Springvale
  • Cnr Princes Highway & St Georges Road, Corio
  • 429a Ballarat Road, Sunshine
  • 389 St Georges Road, Thornbury
  • Cnr Boronia & Wantirna Roads, Wantirna

More photos can be found on Flickr.


The abandoned KFC restaurant pictured at the top of the page is located on Princes Drive in Morwell – it doesn’t feature in the above list.