Meet Sam, our mini tunnel boring machine

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As works to remove the Bedford Road level crossing ramp up in Ringwood, construction equipment continues to arrive on site.

One critical piece of equipment attracted the attention of the next generation of infrastructure engineers and workers, with students from nearby Great Ryrie Primary School given the chance to be a part of history by naming a mini tunnel boring machine (TBM).

Borrowing from a custom dating back to the 1500s when workers using explosives for excavation prayed to Saint Barbara, TBMs are traditionally given female names.

As part of a presentation by the Bedford Road level crossing removal team, about 200 Foundation and Grade 1 students voted on their preferred name from a list inspired by high-profile Australian sportswomen. In a tight vote, Sam was chosen as the winner, named in honour of Matildas captain Sam Kerr.

The interactive presentation also gave the project team an opportunity to discuss the benefits of removing the dangerous and congested level crossing, and to explain how TBMs work, complete with a demonstration in the school sandpit.

Sam the TBM will be used to dig a path underground to install a new drainage system along a section of the new rail track, which will be lowered into a 380m trench, passing under Bedford Road.

The boom gates at Bedford Road will be gone by 2025. Once the level crossing is removed, the Belgrave Line will be level crossing free from the city to Ferntree Gully.

Level Crossing Removal