Metro Tunnel Project inspires new generation of train enthusiasts
The Metro Tunnel Project’s award-winning visitor centre has become a popular haunt for burgeoning trainspotters, as the tunnel’s 2025 opening date draws nearer.
With multiple accolades, including Gold winner in the 2021 GOV Design Awards for retail design, Metro Tunnel HQ has now welcomed more than a quarter of a million visitors through its Swanston St doors since opening in June 2018.
The major rail project appears to be igniting a renewed passion for trains among Melburnians, according to senior centre coordinator Hedley Imbert.
“It’s the biggest rail project to happen in Melbourne since the City Loop was built in the 1980s, and people are fascinated,” Mr Imbert said.
“It seems [the project] is inspiring a new generation of train enthusiasts in Melbourne.”
Located opposite the Town Hall Metro Tunnel construction site on Swanston Street, almost 91,000 visitors passed through HQ’s doors in 2022 marking the busiest year on record.
December 2022 was the busiest month ever with more than 11,000 people stopping by to keep updated on the project.
Mr Imbert believes an increase in people returning to the CBD post-COVID is largely behind the influx of visitors.
Metro Tunnel HQ’s unique experiences, such as virtual reality tours of archeological sites and stations, were also big drawcards and encouraged people to spread the word, he added.
“It’s a state-of-the-art visitor centre with visual and interactive experiences that align with what people are asking about,” he said.
Mr Imbert said the broad visitor demographic spanned all age groups and included people from both Victoria and interstate.
“During the week, it’s mainly office workers and school/community groups. At weekends and holidays, it’s mainly families and tourists,” he said.
“Children in particular love our virtual reality experiences and other activities. We have several visitors with autism who have an interest in our project as well as gunzels and engineers that like their weekly project updates.”
Despite its name, Metro Tunnel HQ offers visitors the chance to learn about other major rail projects under Victoria’s Big Build, including Regional Rail Revival and the much-anticipated Melbourne Airport Rail.
The latest major milestone on the Metro Tunnel Project is the opening of the Anzac Station tram stop on St Kilda Rd.
The tram stop is the first part of the project to open to passengers and will become Melbourne’s first direct tram/train interchange when the Metro Tunnel and Anzac Station open to passengers in 2025. •