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.

An Australian first pacemaker lighting is operating in the tunnel to provide you a visual nudge to pick up your speed, particularly on the steep uphill slope towards the exit.

Why the improvements?

The West Gate Freeway to Burnley Tunnel is one of the busiest stretches of road in the country, with 20+ million vehicles travelling through the tunnel in 2022 alone.

The tunnel is also much steeper and deeper than people realise, with drivers travelling down around 65 metres below the Yarra River, then back up again as they exit, which leads to congestion and can create a backlog of traffic in the tunnel.

What we’ve done

To help improve traffic flow, we’ve installed an innovative pacemaker lighting system to provide visual reminder for you to maintain your speed on the steep uphill slope as you exit the tunnel.

We’ve also installed thousands of new LED lights and repainted the tunnel walls and repaired barriers.

These enhancements combine to brighten the tunnel and give it a more open appearance.

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.

The final stage of the project will start in June. We’ll replace existing overhead road lights with over 1,800 LED lights along the ceiling of the tunnel.

The road lighting will make the tunnel even brighter, and provide a better driving experience.

How the pacemaker lighting works

The pacemaker lights are your visual nudge to pick up your speed in the tunnel.

The green band of moving light provides your peripheral (side) vision a marker to increase and maintain your speed on the uphill slope.

You might be wondering why the lights are moving in front of you? They're designed to overtake you if tunnel traffic is below 80km/h.

All you need to do is focus your eyes on looking ahead, follow the speed limit and regular road rules.

Small increases in speed to create better trips

The Burnley Tunnel’s pacemaker lighting is the world’s first dynamic pacemaker system.

The lights respond to live traffic conditions and move ahead of you up to 15km/h above the speed of the traffic, up to the tunnel speed limit of 80km/h.

Even if the lights are in front of you, you may not realise you’re still going faster than you were before - small increases in speed will create better trips.

Melburnians are starting to save time* in the Burnley Tunnel thanks to the new pacemaker lights.

As Melbourne settles into the new lights, we’ll continue to gather data and fine-tune this world-first technology so that over time, we can achieve further improvements.

24/7 incident response

Our incident response crews have you covered 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Not sure what to do if you breakdown? Follow these tips to make sure you stay safe. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Some drivers are finding the pacemaker lights distracting, do you think they’re safe?

    Safety has 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 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.  

  • Why can’t I keep up with the pacemaker lights?

    The lights will move ahead of you if tunnel traffic is below 80km/h, and that’s what they’re designed to do.

    This is the world’s first dynamic pacemaker system, so the lights respond to live traffic conditions and move ahead of you up to 15km/h above the speed of the traffic, up to the tunnel speed limit of 80km/h.

    Even if lights are in front of you, based on the data we’ve seen so far, drivers are actually going faster than they were before the lights were installed, even though they may not realise it. 

  • What happens if the pacemaker lights turn off or are 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 at 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.

* Based on Transurban traffic operations data from 13 March to 24 April.