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The consortium building the Metro Tunnel project, Cross Yarra Partnership (CYP), has been seeking additional funding from the state, with sources saying the request is as high as $2 billion.
Over the weekend, the two tunnel boring machines were switched to "standby", with work on the section between North Melbourne and South Kensington stopped.
The ABC understands this is a negotiation tactic, with a maintenance stoppage ruled out by senior sources.
One source close to the project said workers were still being paid even though the machines had been switched off, adding "they are just sitting around".
In June, the Auditor-General found that early works were $150 million over budget for the $11 billion twin 9-kilometre tunnels between Kensington and South Yarra under the CBD.
The current dispute, sources say, is about who should pay for delays and financial over-runs.
Some of these over-runs are linked to increased costs hitting the infrastructure due to worker and resource scarcity.
As noted by the Auditor-General, there have also been changes to the project from the scoping works, including during excavation for the new train stations, that have increased costs.
Government, CYP decline to answer questionsEarlier this year, a mediator was appointed to negotiate between the CYP and the Victorian Government.
The consortium includes Lendlease, John Holland Group and Bouygues Construction.
Last month, the Andrews Government refused to say during press conferences if the project would meet its budget or deadline, as speculation about a cost blowout grew.
In response to questions from the ABC about the shutdown, CYP directed all questions to Rail Projects Victoria (RPV).
In response to questions about why the machines had been turned off, RPV said it was committed to delivering the Metro Tunnel Project by 2025.
"[RPV] is in ongoing discussions with Cross Yarra Partnership (CYP) on all aspects of the project and is focused on achieving the best outcomes as works progress,'' a spokesman said in a statement.
"To date, CYP has not provided RPV with any specific detail of proposed changes to its tunnelling program."
The Andrews Government declined to respond to questions about the consortium asking for extra finance and if it was confident the business could meet its obligations.
A government spokeswoman said "operational matters" were an issue for RPV and CYP.
"There is a contract in place to build the Metro Tunnel by 2025 — and we expect them to deliver that,'' she said.
So far one tunnel boring machine named Joan, after former Labor Premier Joan Kirner has drilled 540 metres.
The second machine called Meg after the Australian Women's Cricket captain Meg Lanning, has dug 281 metres.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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