In an Australian first, new virtual reality is helping North East Link and other Big Build workers get ready to deliver some of the state’s biggest infrastructure projects.
Innovative new training at the Victorian Tunnelling Centre (VTC) has started preparing North East Link workers for major tunnelling construction, with simulated training highlighting the importance of staying safe below-ground.
With tunnelling complete on the Metro Tunnel and tunnelling getting closer to completion on the West Gate Tunnel Project, attention is shifting to the next big tunnel – the North East Link.
Thousands of workers are needed to build the North East Link Tunnels from Watsonia to Bulleen, with the VTC at Holmesglen Institute in Chadstone playing a key role in getting them ready to build the 6.5km tunnels.
The centre where the safety training takes place includes a mix of virtual reality simulations and experiences to reflect tunnelling works as well as other practical training.
The tunnelling centre also includes life-sized replicas of mined and bored tunnels and a massive tunnel boring machine (TBM) cutterhead.
The facility is the only one of its kind in Australia and is skilling up the massive pipeline of tunnelling workers needed in Victoria – with North East Link, Metro Tunnel, West Gate Tunnel and Suburban Rail Loop East projects expected to create around 31,000 construction jobs combined.
More than 4200 North East Link workers including tunnelling specialists and construction workers have already completed the safety training.
The Big Build is a significant employer for Victoria, with 20,000 people working across the Big Build, including more than 6 million hours clocked up by apprentices, trainees and cadets since 2018 thanks to the Major Projects Skills Guarantee. On North East Link alone there will be 10,000 local jobs for Victorians over the life of the project
Crews are already doing a huge amount of work to get ready for North East Link tunnelling. The first pieces of North East Link’s massive TBMs are being built overseas, and in Watsonia workers are busy building the project’s TBM launch box in Watsonia with piling works now complete.
North East Link’s TBMs will be among the biggest in the southern hemisphere at 90m long, 15.6m in diameter and weigh around 4000 tonnes. They will arrive later this year in pieces, before being assembled and prepared for launch.