Tunnel boring machines arrive in Qld to dig Cross River Rail tunnels

Two massive Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) have arrived in Queensland to be fitted out and deployed to dig Cross River Rail’s twin tunnels under the river in early 2021.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it was another significant milestone in the progress of this transformational project.

“We know that to continue rebuilding Queensland’s economy, we must forge ahead with job-creating infrastructure like Cross River Rail,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“Both of these TBMs weigh 1350 tonnes which is about as heavy as four Boeing 747s.

“They are the same machines that dug the Sydney Metro. Now they’ll get a full refit and refurbishment at Herrenknecht’s north-side facility, to prepare them to dig Brisbane’s first underground.

“More than a dozen people have started working on the refit of the Cross River Rail TBMs, and that will increase to up to 35 people during peak activity – local jobs at a local factory.”

“We’re also ready to give the machines new names for their new task.”

State Development Minister Kate Jones said the TBMs will be launched from the Woolloongabba Station site and will each dig a tunnel under the Brisbane River to the Albert Street Station.

They will then continue to the new Roma Street Station before emerging at the project’s northern portal at Normanby.

“Herrenknecht are specialist TBM manufacturers with a long track record in Brisbane, having worked on the Clem Jones Tunnel and Legacy Way,” Ms Jones said.

“Cross River Rail will transform the way we travel and it will also leave behind a legacy of skilled workers trained by world-leaders in specialist trades.”

Today the Minister inspected work at the Herrenknecht base at Pinkenba.

Herrenknecht is a German company with a regional HQ in Brisbane and an additional port facility located in Melbourne. Herrenknecht also has a presence in Sydney as and when it is assisting with Sydney based projects

Currently 16 workers are refitting the Tunnel Boring Machines at Pinkenba (including 14 locals and two specialists from Germany).

An additional 15 to 20 workers are expected to be working on the TBM’S over the next 9 months, all of whom will be locals.

Tunnel Boring Machine fast facts:

  • Two TBMs have been delivered in pieces to the Herrenknecht facility
  • The TBMs were previously used on the Sydney Metro project
  • They will be refitted and refurbished to suit the Cross River Rail project
  • At the peak of refurbishment, work will be done 24/7
  • Each TBM weighs 1350 tonnes and is 165 metres long
  • The front of the TBM is called the ‘cutterhead’ which acts as a drill that can tunnel through rock harder than concrete.
  • The cutter head measures 7.2 metres in diameter
  • TBMs will work at a rate of 30 metres per day and will line each tunnel with curved concrete segments as they go.
  • The TBMs will generate 290,000 cubic metres of spoil as they make way for the twin Cross River Rail tunnels.
  • Saint Barbara is the patron saint of tunnellers and miners and traditionally a shrine to St Barbara is established at worksites prior to commencement of tunnelling works.

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