Burnley Tunnel Upgrade Project
Keeping Melbourne moving
We’ve given the Burnley Tunnel a major makeover to improve the traffic flow and make your trips quicker.
We’ve switched on an Australian first – state-of-the-art pacemaker lighting – to encourage drivers to maintain a consistent speed.
Why the improvements?
The Burnley Tunnel is much steeper and deeper than people realise. When going through the tunnel, drivers are actually driving down around 65 metres below the Yarra River, then back up again as they exit.
While drivers may enter the tunnel at 80 km/h, they usually exit at a slower pace, around 60 km/h, which leads to congestion and can create a backlog of traffic in the tunnel.
What we’ve done
We’ve given the Burnley Tunnel a major makeover to give drivers a better trip through one of Melbourne’s busiest transport links.
Upgrade works included deep cleaning and repainting of the tunnel walls, repairing barriers and installing colourful, more energy efficient LEDs.
The newly repainted tunnel walls, LEDs and pacemaker lighting combine to brighten the tunnel and give it a more open appearance, while also helping drivers maintain consistent speeds and easing congestion through the tunnel.
How the pacemaker lighting system works
The green pacemaker lighting (shown below encourages drivers to maintain a consistent speed through the Burnley Tunnel, particularly as you travel uphill toward the exit.
Drivers won’t need to do anything differently – the green band of moving light will provide your peripheral (side) vision a marker to keep pace with while you focus your eyes on looking ahead, following the speed limit and regular road rules.
The pacemaker lighting will operate 24 hours a day; seven days a week and will move at a speed safe and appropriate to traffic conditions in the tunnel to encourage drivers to maintain a consistent speed, while never exceeding 80 km/h.
In the event of an incident in the tunnel, the lighting will switch off. It will resume only after the road is safely cleared and all three traffic lanes are operating.
Drive with care through our work areas
In April and May, there will be nightly lane closures in the Burnley Tunnel as we complete some lighting replacements on the tunnel ceiling.
We ask that you take care driving past work areas and obey lowered speed limits and on-road signage. These safety measures are in place to keep our crews and drivers safe.
24/7 incident response
Frequently Asked Questions
Why have you upgraded the tunnel?
The Burnley Tunnel is much steeper and deeper than people realise. When going through the tunnel, drivers are actually driving down to about 65 metres below the Yarra River, then back up again as they exit.
Because of this, drivers tend to slow down on the uphill, which was leading to congestion and could create backlogs of traffic in the tunnel.
By giving the Burnley Tunnel a major makeover, we’re helping drivers maintain consistent speeds. The Australian-first pacemaker lights have also transformed the tunnel into a one-of-a-kind Australian driving experience.
What changes have you made?
We’ve installed and switched on the state-of-the-art pacemaker lighting to act as visual cues for drivers, guiding them in maintaining a consistent speed. We’ve also transformed the tunnel’s overall lighting, installing colourful, more energy efficient LEDs.
When testing these changes in a virtual reality trial, we found they improved the experience for drivers by 40%, with increases in line of sight, improved driver comfort and consistency of speed at the slope.
Is the pacemaker lighting a danger to road users with epilepsy or other light sensitivities?
There’s nothing more important to us than safety – it’s been at the heart of our planning and design of these lights and we wouldn’t implement anything that didn’t meet Australia’s stringent road safety standards.
A key part of the design of these lights was ensuring they prevent any impacts to drivers with light sensitivities. We’ve designed the lighting so it doesn’t have the ‘flickering effect’ that we know triggers epilepsy conditions, and have prevented the risk through the detailed design process.
Not only do the lights meet road safety standards, we’ve also carried out road safety audits examining these exact conditions – so we’re confident we’ve designed a system that won’t impact light-sensitive drivers.
It’s important to note we’re not talking about flickering or strobing lights here – the pacemaker lights will simply move at the speed limit acting as a reminder in your peripheral vision to maintain a consistent speed. We will continue to monitor the tunnel closely as drivers get used to the new lighting.
What happens if the pacemakers lighting turns off or is faulty?
The pacemaker lighting will operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week unless there are changed conditions in the tunnel such as an incident or maintenance works.
Whether the pacemaker lights are on or off, drivers should continue their normal drive and follow the displayed speed limit shown on the variable speed signs throughout the tunnel.
What experience does Transurban have operating this type of technology if it’s an Australian-first?
Transurban operates some of the safest and most technologically advanced roads in the world. We’re experts and operating and maintaining state-of-the-art toll roads and this includes managing innovative technology such as pacemaker lighting.
As part of this project’s development, Transurban rolled out an Australian-first virtual reality trial that tested whether technology changes, including pacemaker lights, could help drivers maintain a consistent speed in the Burnley Tunnel. This trial revealed these changes were likely to make a difference.
In addition to significant research and data from pacemaker lighting systems currently operating in Japan – a world leader of innovation and road safety – we used the customer-driven insights from our own research to inform the both the design of the pacemaker lighting system and the operating system we’ll use to control it.