Two giant tunnel boring machines (TBMs) have been ordered to help build North East Link’s 6.5km road tunnels that will fix the missing link in our freeway network, slash travel times by up to 35 minutes and get 15,000 trucks off local roads.
The mammoth machines – from German supplier Herrenknecht – will be among the biggest in the southern hemisphere and will each be 90m long, 15.6m in diameter and weigh around 4000 tonnes.
An impressive feat of engineering, the TBMs will be able to travel beneath the Yarra River, will cater for all expected ground conditions, and will tunnel up to 40m underground.
They’ll be operated 24 hours a day by a crew of up to 20 people – including TBM operators, electricians, mechanics, ring builders and tunnel engineers.
With the massive machines now on order ready for tunnelling in 2024, it will take around 18 months for the design, manufacturing, testing and transportation of the TBMs, which will arrive in Melbourne via ship. They will then be transported to site in Watsonia, lowered piece by piece into an excavated box, assembled, and launched on their journey south toward Bulleen.
Throughout winter significant work will be underway to get ready for tunnelling. The project has switched on the new Yarra East Main Sewer which has been moved to make way for North East Link, and will set up construction compounds along Greensborough Road and at Winsor Reserve.