Preparations for tunnelling ramp up at North East Link

CPB Contractors, as part of the Spark consortium, is assembling two of the biggest tunnel boring machines (TBM) in the southern hemisphere before they launch in the coming months on Melbourne’s North East Link project. 

The final piece of the TBM – a 137-tonne screw conveyor – has arrived at the Watsonia site with a 550-tonne gantry crane lowering each TBM piece into the launch box. Once assembled, each 4000-tonne tunnel boring machine will stretch 90 metres long and 15.6 metres high.

Once up and running, the two TBMs will excavate up to 15 metres per day as they travel from Watsonia to Bulleen, building 6.5-kilometre road tunnels enabling traffic to pass under instead of through local suburbs.

More than 100 project team members are undergoing intensive training to work up to 45 metres below ground level. This training includes time in a hyperbaric facility, which is currently being installed on-site so teams can prepare to work in a compressed-air environment. 

Across Melbourne’s north-east, a huge amount of work is underway to get ready for tunnelling – a covered conveyer belt and shed are in place to safely load dirt and rock onto trucks, more than a quarter of the tunnel segments have been built in Benalla, and the TBM retrieval box is taking shape in Bulleen.

CPB Contractors is delivering North East Link Primary Package PPP in Melbourne with fellow CIMIC Group company Pacific Partnerships as part of the Spark consortium. The Primary Package PPP is the largest component of the North East Link project and will provide three-lane twin tunnels that will close the missing link in Melbourne’s freeway network. 

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