Second rail tunnel borer arrives in Sydney

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The second of four North West Rail Link tunnel boring machines being made to order by France’s NFM Technologies has arrived in Sydney.

Second rail tunnel borer arrives in Sydney
Assembly of the 'Florence' tunnel boring machine gets underway in Sydney.

The 6.99m-diameter borer — nicknamed ‘Florence’ after  Australia’s first female engineer and architect Florence Mary Taylor — arrived at the Bella Vista tunnelling site last week in 18 shipping containers and a further 27 large pieces, including the 105-tonne cutter head, which was transported overnight under a police escort.

Assembly is underway by a crew of around 70 people, and the 900-tonne machine is expected to start digging before the end of the year. The first boring machine, Elizabeth, has already excavated more than 90m of a 9km tunnel towards Cherrybrook.

Florence will dig a twin tunnel to Cherrybrook, and the other two tunnel boring machines (TBMs) will dig the 6km from Cherrybrook to Epping.

Together, the 15km twin tunnels will be the longest rail tunnels built in Australia. The TBMs will bore at an average of 27m below ground surface in rock that is mainly formed of extremely abrasive sandstone and shale. The deepest point of the tunnels is 63m.

The machines are expected to have a full tunnelling production rate of about 120m a week, on average. They will be staffed by a team of 15 people on every shift, operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The contact to build the TBMs was awarded to NFM Technologies by a grouping comprising Thiess, John Holland and Dragados, acting on behalf of Transport for NSW, the Government of New South Wales’ transport authority. The company says the order was worth almost €40 million (about A$58 million).

 

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