Three massive machines – each weighing more than 100 tonnes – have met 30 metres underground, in the first major breakthrough of the Metro Tunnel in Melbourne, Australia.
Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan was given a rare look under the city on July 18, where she met the men and women whose hard work made the breakthrough possible.
It’s a huge milestone for the multi-billion-dollar Andrews Labor Government project and signifies months of around-the-clock excavation by the three machines – known as roadheaders.
The roadheaders have been mining station caverns and underground passenger connections under Swanston Street, near Franklin Street, for the new State Library Station.
In total, more than 500,000 tonnes of material will be excavated – the equivalent of almost 70 Olympic swimming pools – with 1,500 tonnes of rock and soil removed every 24 hours.
Seven roadheaders will be used in the CBD as part of the project – four for State Library Station and three for Town Hall Station. Each weighs 118-tonnes, is 15-metres long and is lowered underground in separate pieces, before being re-assembled underground.
The roadheaders have dug out more than 20 percent of State Library Station, with excavation expected to be finished by late-2020.
As construction continues on the Metro Tunnel, Melbourne-based TTM Rail has been awarded the $1.6 million contract to fit out two X’Trapolis trains for High Capacity Signalling (HCS) to be tested on the Mernda Line.
Work has already begun to prepare the track between Epping and South Morang stations for testing in 2020.
HCS is used on rail networks in major cities such as London and Hong Kong to run more trains, more often and more reliably. When the project is complete, HCS will be installed on the Cranbourne, Pakenham and Sunbury lines.
The HCS roll-out on the existing rail network is an Australian first, and testing will involve running the two test trains without passengers to adapt the technology to Melbourne conditions.
“This breakthrough is a huge achievement and the culmination of months and months of hard work,” Allan said. “These giant roadheaders have been working day and night underground, building the Metro Tunnel – to run more trains, more often, across Melbourne.”