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THREE organisations have been short-listed for the North West Rail Link's multi-billion-dollar tunnelling contract as planning gets well underway.
The organisations, selected from six business conglomerates including more than 60 companies who put in a bid for the tender, will now partake in a second pitch for the tender next month.
The shortlisted companies include Baulderstone Bouygues North West Rail Joint Venture, Rapidlink Joint Venture (Obayashi, McConnell Dowell, Laing ORourke Australia) and Thiess John Holland Dragados Joint Venture.
Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian said contracts to build the rail tunnels, tipped as the deepest and longest tunnels ever built in Australia, were expected to be awarded next year.
"We've had strong national and international interest to build the 15.5km of twin tunnels between Bella Vista and Epping," Ms Berejiklian said.
"We are on track to have tunnel boring machines in the ground in 2014."
Ms Berejiklian said 18 major tenders and 38 key contracts had been awarded.
Hills Council General Manager Dave Walker said the council's preparations for construction works were a sign the North West Rail Link was on its way.
"For those who said the North West Rail Link would never happen, this sends a strong message that the rail is coming," he said.
"I'd like to remind people that while council plays a role in representing the needs of our residents on this project, all decision-making about the North West Rail Link is the responsibility of the State Government, not Council."
Mr Walker reminded residents of Premier Barry O'Farrell's announcement earlier this year that the Castle Hill Showground would be preserved as a community leisure precinct.
COUNCIL OPERATIONS CHANGES
* The council is set to construct a 34-space car park at the rear of the council building to house heavy plant equipment.
* Parking spaces behind the Hills Centre will not be available for use as it becomes part of the North West Rail Link project.
* A council toilet block will undergo a $25,000 upgrade in time for the next show.
* Council will create new access to the showground through the council car park, providing a new entry to the Showground in time for Castle Hill Show next year.
* The council anticipates that a new entry will also assist residents when access to Doran Drive becomes restricted as a result of North West Rail Link construction.
This article first appeared on www.heraldsun.com.au
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