roadheaders

Dual roadheaders excavating Cross River Rail tunnels

Two roadheaders are excavating tunnels underneath Brisbane to carve out the route of the future Cross River Rail.

The addition of the second roadheader enables more rock to be excavated each day, with 55 metres of tunnel already excavated at a rate of 1.5 metres each a day.

The over 100 tonnes roadheaders have set out in different directions from the Woolloongabba site. Beginning from the station cavern, one is heading north underneath Vulture Street, and the other is tunnelling south towards the South East Busway.

Blasting is also being conducted at the site to speed up excavation works.

To allow for the excavated rock, including volcanic Brisbane Tuff and conglomerates forming the Neranleigh Fernvale rock that sits under the Brisbane CBD, to be removed from site, a spoil shed built by a local contractor has been constructed at Woolloongabba. By the time excavation is complete, over 132,000 cubic metres of rock and soil will have been excavators. So far, 70,000 cubic metres has been removed.

When complete, the station box shaft will be 32 metres deep, with the future 220 metre-long platform sitting 27-metres below the surface.

Later in 2020, tunnel boring machines (TBMs) will arrive at Woolloongabba. The TBMs are currently being refitted in Brisbane after having completed work on the Sydney Metro project. The TBMs will excavate the twin underground tunnels to the north from January next year. This will speed up tunnelling progress as each can carve out 20-30 metres of tunnel a day.

TBM handed over for work on Auckland CRL

The City Rail Link (CRL) project in Auckland, New Zealand, has officially accepted ownership of its tunnel boring machine (TBM).

The machine has been assembled in Guangzhou, China and after a number of tests is ready to be shipped to New Zealand, said Francois Dudouit, project director for CRL’s tunnels and stations delivery consortium Link Alliance.

“The TBM successfully underwent more than 500 tests to make sure everything works as it should. There is now great excitement that we are ready for the next step – to bring the TBM to Auckland.”

The TBM has been designed to meet the unique challenges of tunnelling under Auckland, where it will dig the tunnels, transport the excavated spoil, and install the concrete panels that will line the tunnels.

“It is a unique, world class machine – an underground factory – purpose built to carve its way through Auckland’s sticky soil,” said Dudouit. “Just about everything that moves was tested to make sure it can do the transformational job it’s been designed for.”

While the CRL project has been slightly hampered by restrictions on travel for key personnel, and the delivery of the TBM was delayed due to the factory closing in China, the successful handing over of the TBM demonstrates that the project can continue during COVID-19, said Sean Sweeney, chief executive of CRL.

“The successful factory assessment tests and the handover of the TBM to the Link Alliance is a very clear and strong indication that the CRL project can meet critical milestones in a Covid-19 world.”

The TBM will carve out the twin, 1.6km-long tunnels between Mt Eden and central Auckland where it will connect with tunnels from Britomart. Delivery is expected in October and it will begin tunnelling in April. Each tunnel is expected to take nine months to complete.

The TBM will be named in honour of Māori rights champion Dame Whina Cooper.

TBMs

TBMs all boring under Melbourne for Metro Tunnel

All four tunnel boring machines (TBMs) on the Melbourne Metro Tunnel project are in the ground, ensuring that the project is on track to be finished in 2025, a year ahead of schedule.

Premier Daniel Andrews said that having all TBMs working at the same time was a milestone for the project.

“We’re making significant progress on this landmark project – with all four tunnel boring machines in the ground.”

The news comes as other significant works are completed. At Parkville station, excavation of the station box at Grattan Street is complete and 50 steel columns are being installed at the under-construction State Library Station.

Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan thanked those who were working on the project.

“The team have worked around-the-clock to get the four tunnel boring machines underway, while observing social distancing and keeping workers safe.”

Andrews echoed that these works would have an economy-boosting impact.

“Big construction projects like the Metro Tunnel are more important than ever as we rebuild from the pandemic – kickstarting our economy and supporting thousands of jobs.”

Of the four TBMs, two are tunnelling from the Ardern site in North Melbourne towards Parkville. TBMs Meg and Joan, named after Australian cricketer Meg Lanning and Victoria’s first female Premier Joan Kirner, are completing the two parallel tunnels.

At the eastern portal TBM Millie and TBM Alice, named after Millie Peacock – Victoria’s first female member of Parliament – and Alice Appleford, wartime nurse, are excavating the twin tunnels from Anzac Station to South Yarra.

NZ City Rail Link ready to re-start construction

The New Zealand government has approved Auckland’s $4.45 billion City Rail Link (CRL) to resume construction after the COVID-19 lockdown.

Sean Sweeney, CEO of New Zealand’s biggest infrastructure project said his team is champing at the bit for a rapid re-start.

“We’re already inspecting all CRL sites and making them ready for a safe return to work next week,” he said.

Work will resume on Tuesday, April 28 at all CRL sites including the C1 contract at Britomart and LowerQueen Street, C2 in Albert Street, C3 at Aotea in central Auckland, Karangahape Road and at MtEden, and C8 on the southern rail line at Ōtāhuhu.

“Because of our size we’re aware of the big role we have in quickly getting the economy moving again, supporting the contracting and infrastructure industries and seeing our workers safely back on the job,” Sweeney said.

He said the paramount priority will be keeping workers and the wider community safe.

“We had some pretty strict safety measures in place before the lockdown, but next Tuesday’s return to work will be different,” he said.

Sweeny said there will be additional constraints including restricted access to sites, physical distancing, protective clothing and sanitising and cleaning regimes.

“They will all contribute to a successful re-start in the new COVID-19 work environment, and, just as importantly, they will help ensure our workers get home to family and friends virus-free when they finish their shifts,” he said.

Sweeney said it is too early to measure if COVID-19 has impacted on project costs or construction timetables.

“It may be months before we know that once the economy has settled down a bit and we have a clearer picture on the availability of workers, and what sort of shape some of our suppliers both here and overseas are in,” he said.

“I know we have a small team of workers waiting in France because there are no flights here at the moment – that’s not a lockdown issue that‘s a wider international COVID-19 issue.

“A big plus for the project was ability of City Rail Link Ltd (CRL Ltd) and our Link Alliance contractors to be able to keep working on construction and design programmes during the lockdown – time wasn’t wasted and that’s been a big boost for our re-start.”

The project team is investigating opportunities to accelerate some work, including more shifts of work and the use of extra plant and machinery.

“Those ‘shovel ready’ ideas are still in the planning stages but our contractors will be working hard – and safely – to get CRL delivered as quickly as possible for Auckland,” Sweeney said.

Phil Goff, Auckland Mayor, has welcomed the government’s announcement to resume construction and CRL’s re-start news.

“As one of Auckland – and New Zealand’s – biggest and most important infrastructure projects, the City Rail Link will play an important role in the post-COVID-19 economic stimulus,”Goff said.

“It’s critical that CRL construction resumes quickly to help kick start the economy, get construction and infrastructure industry employees back into work and limit as much as is possible the lockdown’s impact on construction timeframes.”

In the meantime, City Rail Link is in the search for an inspiring woman’s name for the project’s Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM).

The TBM is due to arrive from China later this year in sections and reassembled at the Link Alliance construction site in Mt Eden.

The Link Alliance will start tunnelling with the newly named TBM early next year, excavating 1.6 kilometres from Mt Eden to the Aotea Station in central Auckland to connect with the tunnels already constructed from the Britomart Station.

“Tunnelling tradition dictates a TBM cannot start work until it has been given a female name, a sign of good luck and safety for the project ahead. Our search seeks to recognise the many amazing women New Zealand has produced,” Sweeney said.

Shortlisted names include Antarctic scientist Dr Margaret Hayward, transgender politician Georgina Beyer, and Maori welfare and lands champion Dame Whina Cooper.

Tunnelling complete for Sydney Metro

The Sydney Metro has reached a major milestone, with all tunnelling now finished on the Sydney metro City & Southwest project.

The final boring machine, named Kathleen after Kathleen Butler, the technical advisor to Sydney Harbour Bridge builder John Bradfield, finished the tunnelling part of the project when she arrived at the northern terminus of the second tunnel from Barangaroo to Blue Point.

Each tunnel was 885 metres in length; however, the second tunnel was built a month faster than the first, due to the incorporation of lessons from the first tunnel.

These changes included modifying the cutter head and changing tunnelling processes to better dig through the clay material below Sydney harbour.

Kathleen churned through 175,000 tonnes of sandstone, clay, and marine sediment to complete the dual harbour tunnels. At their deepest, the tunnels are 40 metres below sea level.

All in all, the five tunnel boring machines have dug through 31 kilometres of tunnels during the last 17 months.

Earlier this week the last concrete segments which line the walls of the tunnel were installed.

First section of the Metro Tunnel now complete

The first tunnel boring machine (TBM) named Joan has worked around the clock for months, dug underneath the city, and installed the tunnel’s massive concrete rings.

Joan is named after former Victorian Premier Joan Kirner and she has now broken through a 13m-deep shaft at Childers Street, Kensington, completing the journey from Arden Station.

Since her launch in August 2019, Joan has travelled 1.2km tunnelling under rail lines, CityLink, Moonee Ponds Creek, North Yarra Main Sewer, and the West Melbourne Terminal Station and installed 4,200 curved concrete segments to create 700 rings lining the walls of the tunnel.

The segments, each weighing 4.5 tonnes, are among 56,000 being manufactured by 70 workers at a purpose-built concrete manufacturing plant in Deer Park.

The second TBM, Meg, who is named after Australian women’s cricket captain Meg Lanning, is travelling on a parallel route to carve out the second tunnel from Arden to Kensington and will break through in the coming weeks.

Work began in January at the site of the new Anzac Station on St Kilda Road site to assemble the third and fourth TBMs for the Metro Tunnel Project. These are expected to be launched in mid-2020.

The Andrews Labour Government said Victoria’s massive transport infrastructure program will continue over autumn with the next phase of work concentrating on level crossing removals.

Following level crossing removal at Toorak Road and major works at Cheltenham and Mentone station, a three-month construction blitz will begin on the Upfield line in July.

Works will include the elevation of tracks, construction of two new stations, and removal of four level crossings.

Ongoing excavation to build an underground pedestrian connection between Flinders Street Station and the new Town Hall Station in the Metro Tunnel is currently underway.

Jacinta Allan, Minister for Transport Infrastructure, said there are nearly 120 major road and rail projects on the go across the state and this autumn.

Melissa Horne, Minister for Public Transport said that it’s vital the Victorian government continues to invest in infrastructure for the benefit of Melbourne’s residents and visitors.

Breakthrough on longest rail tunnel in WA

After two and a half years, the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) called Grace has reached the end of its eight-kilometre tunneling journey in Perth.

TBM Grace has broken through at Bayswater dive station, part of the Metronet’S Forrestfield-Airport Link project in Western Australia.

Two tunnels will house the $1.86 billion project’s rail lines and TBM Grace has now built the first tunnel from Forrestfield to Bayswater.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said this is a historic milestone for the state and a major engineering feat that hasn’t been seen before in WA. 

“Where once there was dirt, sand, rocks and tree roots, now sits the foundation for our new railway,” McGowan said.

Through her journey it has tunnelled underneath Perth Airport, Redcliffe Station and the Swan River, before reaching her final destination at Bayswater.

Walls of the twin tunnel were installed by TBM Grace using half of the 54,000 locally fabricated concrete segments.

Grace is the first TMB and will be dismantled and craned out of the dive structure in preparation for the arrival of TBM Sandy, who is a safe distance behind Grace.

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the arrival of TBM Sandy in coming months will mark the completion of tunnelling.

“With the end of tunnelling in sight, work is continuing on important infrastructure components such as station construction and fit out and readying the tunnels for track laying,” Saffioti said.

“The precision engineering it has taken for this machine to tunnel eight kilometres, through varying and sometimes challenging soil types, to break through in exactly the right spot is truly remarkable.”

Tunnelling work is due to be completed in May.

Metronet is the biggest public transport project Perth has seen and trains are set to run on the new rail line in the second half of next year.

The rail link between eastern foothills, Perth Airport, and the CBD is expected to be a 20 minute trip.

Sydney Metro’s first tunnel under Sydney Harbour now complete

The first of two railway tunnels to be built under Sydney Harbour, as part of the Sydney metro project, has been completed.

At its deepest point, the tunnel is 40 metres below the harbour floor and is considered “an engineering feat of historic proportions,” according to NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian who visited the site of the tunnel on Monday.

Specialised under-harbour tunnelling boring machine (TBM) Kathleen will dig the two tunnels. TBM Kathleen launched in June, from Barangaroo Station, and took four months to tunnel nearly one kilometre to the northern side of the harbour at Blues Point.

After completing the first of the two tunnels, the TBM was then pulled apart and had its giant 90-tonne cutter head and front sections barged back across Sydney Harbour, from where it is now being reassembled to start digging the second tunnel. The 975-tonne machine had removed 87,400 tonnes of sandstone, clay and marine sediments to dig the first tunnel.

Metro trains will start running through the two tunnels in 2024. In 2024, Sydney will have 31 metro stations and a 66km standalone metro railway, with the capacity for a train every two minutes in each direction. It will be able to move more people across the harbour in the busiest hour of the peak than the Harbour Bridge and Harbour Tunnel combined.

Another TBM, Wendy has reached the harbour’s edge at Blues Point, making her the first of the five mega borers to officially finish tunnelling on the Sydney Metro City & Southwest project. TBM Wendy completed a 6.2 kilometre tunnel via new stations at Crows Nest and Victoria Cross, excavating 563,000 tonnes of sandstone and shale.

Kathleen and Wendy are two of five mega borers which have worked simultaneously to deliver the twin 15.5 kilometre rail tunnels between Chatswood and Sydenham, extending Metro rail from the north west, under the CBD, and beyond to Bankstown.

Demolitions begin to clear the way for Auckland’s City Rail Link

Thirty empty buildings are being demolished near the Mt Eden railway station, as part of Auckland’s City Rail Link project.

Demolition works started this week to provide space for the construction of the southern portal for the City Rail Link’s twin tunnels. The cleared site will be used as a staging area for a Tunnel Boring Machine and other machinery.

The first phase of this demolition is due to be completed next March, and is being managed by the Link Alliance which is delivering the stations and tunnels of the City Rail Link.

Construction of a new Mt Eden Station will allow the existing tracks to be moved around to connect the Western Line with the tunnels.

From Mt Eden Station, the City Rail Link will run under the Newton ridge and central motorway junction before it reaches new underground stations at Karangahape Road and Mayoral Drive/Albert Street and the redeveloped Britomart Station in lower Queen Street. The project will be completed in 2024.

“Demolition is a significant and visible development for the project, clearing a site that will essentially be ‘base camp’ for the substantial programme of construction to complete New Zealand’s biggest infrastructure project,” said City Rail Link’s Chief Executive Dr Sean Sweeney.

“In many ways Monday will mark the end of the project’s beginning. When these buildings have gone, the way will be clear for us to get below ground, complete the tunnels, build two underground stations, redevelop Mt Eden Station and then handover a world class rail system an international city like Auckland deserves,” said Sweeney.

City Rail Link began buying the first of the buildings to be demolished back in 2012 and bought the last was in 2015. They are located in Flower, Nikau, Ruru, Shaddock and Ngahura Streets. Demolition will start in Shaddock Street.

Measures are in place to reduce the impacts of demolition, according to Dale Burtenshaw, the Deputy Alliance Project Director.

The demolition area has been isolated by hoardings or fencing and an independent specialist will monitor noise and vibration limits to make sure they remain inside approved limits. However, most of the buildings are low-rise with concrete block walls and either timber or steel framing which will help avoid any extensive vibration. A specialist company is helping remove asbestos found in some of the buildings.

Sydney’s metro tunnels nearing completion

Twenty-two kilometres of the Sydney Metro tunnels are now complete, leaving about 30 cent left of the mammoth public transport project.

Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) Nancy tunnelled its way to the new Martin Place Station last week, where it was welcomed by Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Transport Minister Andrew Constance and workers.

Since launching in October 2018, TBM Nancy has cleared 6.8 kilometres via the new metro stations at Waterloo, Central and Pitt Street.

“While people are getting on with life in the city above, deep underneath the CBD giant machines like TBM Nancy are getting on with the job, building tunnels for our future metro rail,” said Berejiklian.

“This tunnelling is pivotal to a well-connected public transport system here at Martin Place, where customers will be able to transfer between the new metro and the Eastern Suburbs & Illawarra line,” said Constance.

TBM Nancy will spend a few weeks undergoing maintenance before being re-launched to complete the last 1.3 kilometres between Martin Place and Barangaroo.

Before TBM Nancy’s arrival, workers spent 21 months building the caverns for the new Martin Place Station, removing about 198,000 tonnes of rock in the process.

“Deep under city streets and buildings, this historic new metro line will not only increase the capacity of our rail network but make it easier to get around,” said Constance.