We’re preparing to build Victoria’s longest road tunnels. When complete, the North East Link Tunnels will take 15,000 trucks off local roads every day and reduce travel times by up to 35 minutes.
Tunnelling will start in 2024, with the tunnel boring machines (TBMs) set to arrive from overseas in pieces by the end of 2023 – before the massive task of assembling both of the 90m long, 15.6m diameter, 4000 tonne TBMs begins.
TBMs are large machines used to excavate dirt and rock. The cutting head on the front of the TBM rotates and hydraulic cylinders push it forward from behind. Cutter discs on the cutting head break through the dirt and rock.
Conveyer belts and pipes inside the TBM take the dirt and rock from the cutter head to the end of the machine and then to the surface. As the tunnels are being dug, we’ll place curved segments of concrete inside to form the tunnel walls.
The TBMs will be among the biggest in the southern hemisphere. Come down to our Watsonia Hub to see our replica and learn more about how it works.
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.
While most of the work to build the North East Link Tunnels will happen deep underground, major works are still needed at the surface to launch and operate the TBMs as well as build new interchanges and ventilation structures for the tunnels.
Read our news story North East Link tunnel boring machines on the way
Read our fact sheet Tunnel construction in Watsonia and Macleod