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The state government has shown off the drilling machines that will spearhead excavation of the two tunnels under Brisbane's heart for the Cross River Rail project next year.
The boring machines will soon be disassembled and moved to the site of the new Gabba station, where, come 2021, they will start cutting through 20-30 metres of earth and rock per day.
They will cut 5.9-kilometre twin tunnels from Woolloongabba and emerge alongside the Inner City Bypass, boring through and sending to the surface 290,000 cubic metres of spoil in the process.
Transport Minister Mark Bailey said each drill weighed 1350 tonnes, was 165 metres long, required a crew of up to 15, and possessed 39 cutting discs exerting as much as 32 tonnes of pressure each.
"The first TBM [tunnel boring machine] has been assembled and is going through its final checks this week, and the same process will be completed with the second machine next month," Mr Bailey said.
"Crews remain on track to launch the TBMs from the Woolloongabba station site early next year.
"The TBMs will tunnel under the Brisbane River to Albert Street station in mid-2021, before continuing on to the new Roma Street station and emerging at the project’s northern portal at Normanby.
"Brisbane’s got tough rock, it’s hard rock, so they will be working hard. These tunnel boring machines are bigger than the machines used on the Sydney Metro project.
"At the same time as they’re making their way through hard rock, the TBMs will install massive 4.2-tonne precast concrete segments to line the tunnels."
Mr Bailey said the machines would be working 58 metres below the surface and 42 metres below Brisbane River.
"Most people will have no idea what’s going on under the ground because it will be so far down it will have very minimal impact," he said.
More than 100 Queensland companies have been involved in the 12-month refurbishment of the two drills at manufacturer Herrenknecht’s northside facility in Pinkenba, at a cost of $10 million.
Some specialist parts had to be sent offshore for maintenance, but otherwise, the majority of the refurbishment was carried out by contractors in the Sunshine State.
The Cross River Rail project includes a 10.2-kilometre stretch of railway track, 5.9 kilometres of which will be underground, along with four subterranean stations.
The project will overhaul public transport in the city and revitalise precincts near the new stations at Boggo Road, Albert Street, Roma Street and Woolloongabba.
It promises to deliver an extra 18,000 train seats, take 14,000 drivers off the roads, cut travel times on existing south-east Queensland train lines, and create more than 7700 jobs.
Mr Bailey said 4.2 million working hours had been spent on the Cross River Rail project so far, and next year the workforce would increase, peaking at 3000 jobs.
This article first appeared on www.brisbanetimes.com.au
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