Doubling down underground

Four different tunnel boring machines (TBMs) are expected to reach their destination at Sydney Olympic Park this year as part of the 24-kilometre Sydney Metro West project.

TBMs Daphne and Beatrice were launched from The Bays Station site in Rozelle in 2023 and have tunnelled more than 4.3 kilometres, achieving a record-breaking milestone: first TBMs in the Southern Hemisphere to make a double breakthrough at Five Dock late last year.

Meanwhile, TBMs Betty and Dorothy were launched from the Clyde Stabling and Maintenance Facility site in the second half of 2023 and are also making their way towards Sydney Olympic Park. All four TBMs are expected to reach Sydney Olympic Park in 2024.

The Sydney Metro West project is expected to create about 10,000 direct jobs and a further 70,000 indirect, during construction. To support this work, the custom-designed and purpose-built Tunnelling and Infrastructure Academy opened at Clyde opened last year. It is managed by project delivery partners Gamuda and Laing O’Rourke Consortium which are building tunnels between Westmead and Sydney Olympic Park.

The aim of the academy is to upskill existing workers and to connect new workers to the construction industry by building their capabilities and placing them in entry level roles on the Sydney Metro project.

Almost 3000 training courses across 192 programs have been completed and it is expected that 10,000 people will take up the training. Now in its 2024 session, 260 people are currently learning 19 different programs. The academy features specialised virtual reality simulators which simulate underground tunnelling operations, and a decommissioned tunnel boring machine so trainees get real hands-on experience.

Sydney Metro West has a target opening date of 2032 and set to double the rail capacity between the CBDs of Sydney and Parramatta.

Image: Precast segments at the Eastern Creek Precast Facility. Source: NSW Government.

About the author

Desi Corbett

Desi is our weekly news journalist and the editor of Concrete in Australia magazine for 10 years. She has been heavily involved in all forms of engineering since 2013; part of a 30-year writing career across a range of subjects and media.