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13 February 2019
One of the four massive tunnel boring machines (TBMs) has arrived in Melbourne to begin drilling under the Melbourne Central Business District to make way for the Metro Tunnel project. The machine will be used for the next three years to drill more than 9 kilometres of rail tunnel.
The TBMs were engineered in Germany and built in China. It arrived unassembled at the Port of Melbourne earlier this month and will take a full team of engineering experts to build underground. A 400-tonne crane will be required to lower each piece 20 meters underground. They will begin drilling towards the western tunnel entrance in Kensington.
Each of the machines are 120 metres in length and weigh up to 1100 tonnes. It moves at a pace of 10 metres underground every 24 hours.
“If the machine’s piece were laid out together, they would cover an area bigger than the MCG playing surface”, said Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan.
At the conclusion of the Metro Tunnel project the engineering experts will need to spend several months to dismantle the TBMs underground, to bring it to surface. They hope to re-use the machines to assist with the airport rail link, North East Link and the government’s proposed $50 billion suburban rail loop.
The second TBM will be arriving in Melbourne by the end of March.