City Loop history
Melbourne's City Loop was completed in May 1985. This page provides a range of resources about the construction of the Melbourne underground rail loop, including photos, videos and a timeline.
Information on this page
Building the Melbourne Underground Rail Loop was an extraordinary undertaking. Construction started in 1971 and the project was completed with the opening of Flagstaff Station in 1985. The loop provides customers with a choice of five stations around the central business district and avoids operational problems associated with trains having to reverse direction at Flinders Street Station.
As early as 1929, the Metropolitan Town Planning Commission recommended the construction of railway tracks and stations under the eastern and northern sides of the central business district, and connecting them to the existing railway system in the vicinity of North Melbourne and Richmond. The 1969 Melbourne Metropolitan Transport Plan also supported the need for an underground loop. It proposed a design similar to that finally agreed upon.
|Feb 1971||Melbourne Underground Rail Loop Act passed. The Melbourne Underground Rail Loop Authority (MURLA) was set up under this act to build the Loop.|
|22 Jun 1971||First sod was turned near Flinders Street 'E' Box.|
|2 Sept 1977||Boring of the first tunnel (for the Burnley Group of lines) was completed.|
|11 Dec 1978||The new viaduct between Flinders Street Station and Spencer Street Station was opened. This increased the number of tracks between these two stations from four to six. This was the first stage of the Loop project to be completed.|
|31 Oct 1980||The traction overhead went live in the Burnley and Caulfield Loops.|
|4 Dec 1980||The first test train ran through the Loop.|
|24 Jan 1981||Museum Station, and the Burnley and Caulfield Group tunnels were officially opened.|
|26 Jan 1981||Regular passenger services started through the Burnley and Caulfield Group tunnels.|
|31 Oct 1982||The tunnel for the Clifton Hill Group of lines was opened to regular rail traffic.|
|22 Jan 1983||Parliament Station was opened.|
|1 May 1984||The tunnel for the Northern Group of lines was opened to regular rail traffic. This was the last of the four tunnels to be opened.|
|27 May 1985||Flagstaff Station was opened.|
|23 Aug 1993||The City Circle rail service was withdrawn. This service was replaced by the City Circle tram service that was introduced in 1994.|
|16 Feb 1997||Museum Station was renamed Melbourne Central.|
|19 Nov 2000||Sunday services through the Loop started operating until the last train, rather than stopping at 6.45 pm.|
The following films were produced by the Melbourne Underground Rail Loop Authority in the 1970s, during the planning and construction of the loop. Originally there was to be a trilogy of films, one at the start of construction, one during construction and a final one when the project was completed. However, when the Melbourne Underground Rail Loop Authority was scaled back at the end of the project, the third film was never completed. As well as documenting construction of the loop, the films show the development of Melbourne during the 1970s.
Things to watch for in the videos:
- The Melbourne Central Shot Tower, now located under the dome, can be seen in the videos quite clearly during the construction of Melbourne Central Station. La Trobe Street was temporarily diverted around the construction site, right next to the base of the Shot Tower.
- New silver trains are shown being constructed. These are the Hitachi Trains which are now being progressively retired from service.
- Buildings under construction, including Collins Place and 80 Collins Street (formerly known as Nauru House).
- Loop (WMV, 96 kbs, 9.3 MB, 12 minutes 44 seconds)
- Loop script (PDF, 21 KB)
- Action Loop (WMV, 96 kbs, 9.8 MB, 13 minutes 29 seconds)
- Action Loop script (PDF, 17 KB)
Alternatively, a DVD of these films is available from the City Library or talk to your local library about the possibility of inter-library loan.
The Melbourne Underground Rail Loop Authority produced a number of brochures about the project.
A flyer produced at the start of the project (PDF, 246 KB) explains how the loop would take them closer to their destination, illustrating it with a map of the proposed developments and improvements, an artist's impression and a photograph of an underground station on the Rotterdam metro.
Featured below are links to some of the pictures from a postcard-style brochure released during the early stages of construction:
A map of the train network showing the flow of the suburban lines into the Loop. Full picture (JPG, 381 KB)
The picks of a mining machine break into Flagstaff Station from the direction of Museum Station, forming the first full-length loop around Melbourne. Full picture (JPG, 107 KB)
A conceptual drawing shows Museum Station (now Melbourne Central Station), the first of the three underground stations to come into operation. Full picture (JPG, 84 KB)
Escalators being installed at an otherwise empty and unfurnished Museum station. Full picture (JPG, 89 KB)
- Brochures and films – Dr Sandy Bennet
- Photos – Public Record Office Victoria