Under Brisbane, where it will not surface until late-2021, the first massive Cross River Rail tunnel boring machine (TBM) went underground.
The TBM will pave the groundwork for a new rail line and further construction jobs as part of the Queensland Government’s $50 billion infrastructure pipeline over the next four years and will only re-emerge later this year.
Acting Minister of Transport and Main Roads, Mark Ryan, who inspected TBM Else, named after trailblazing female engineer Else Shepherd AM, said she will now be transferred underground to begin tunneling later this month in the station cavern of the Woolloongabba site.
“2021 is the tunneling year of the Cross River Rail transformation project, and this milestone really marks the start of it,” Mr. Ryan said.
Thanks to the Queenslanders’ health response, the Palaszczuk government has been able to continue the job of generating employment and delivering our state’s economic recovery plan COVID-19, which includes the development of the Cross River Line.
In bringing these TBMs to fruition, more than 100 local businesses and 40 employees have played a role, part of the 2,400 persons who have served on Cross River Rail so far.
As part of our record $26.9 billion road and transport program, the Palaszczuk Government is creating thousands of jobs in industries such as construction as part of Cross River Rail, and another 23,600 jobs right across Queensland.
After today, TBM Else will not see the light of day until, by the end of the year, she emerges from the project’s northern portal at Normanby.
“The other 1,350-ton mega machine from Cross River Rail, TBM Merle, will follow shortly after, to ensure that the twin tunnels of the project are completed before the year is out.”
Mr. Ryan said that the significant milestone was marked by a traditional indigenous ceremony.
“Mr. Ryan said, “The TBMs have one of the most important jobs of the entire project, digging the bulk of Cross River Rail’s 5.9 km of twin tunnels right under the Brisbane River and CBD.
“It is only appropriate that we mark such an important occasion for the project, with the traditional ceremony of owners intended to wish safe passage for TBM Else and the tunnellers as they make their way underground.”
Mr. Ryan said the TBMs would be tunneling through 20-30 m of hard rock a day, at any one time with a crew of up to 15 people working on them.
“The TBMs will tunnel under the river from Woolloongabba and break through at a depth of 31 m to Albert Street station in mid-2021 and continue to Roma Street before emerging at the northern portal of the project at Normanby,” Mr. Ryan said.
“The TBMs will line the tunnel walls as they go with 25,000 massive precast concrete segments, weighing 4.2 tonnes each.”