At this very moment, some 30 metres below ground, giant machines are creating the vast tunnels that will eventually house Melbourne’s newest train lines.
The four tunnel boring machines required to build the Metro Tunnel – each named after a notable Victorian woman – are 120 metres in length and can cut through rock six times harder than concrete.
They travel about 10 metres per day, boring through a variety of ground conditions including hard rock and sand, with teams of up to 10 people working on the machines at any one time.
Each tunnel boring machine is crewed and monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The machines are fully equipped with facilities for staff, including an office, kitchen and toilets.
To dig and seal the tunnels with concrete segments, the machines are lowered into excavated station boxes.
The first two were launched from the Arden station site in North Melbourne in September last year, tunnelling towards the new tunnel entrance at Kensington, and the other two will travel from the Anzac station site (near the Shrine of Remembrance) towards the tunnel’s eastern entrance at South Yarra.
The tunnel boring machines are then dismantled and trucked back to their starting points to be reassembled, before heading off again towards the city.
As the Metro Tunnel Project continues, the new tunnels will connect the existing Sunbury and Cranbourne/Pakenham lines to five new stations – Arden, Parkville, State Library, Town Hall and Anzac – providing Melburnians with more trains, more often, in and out of the city.
Did you know
The amount of excavated material removed would fill the MCG 1.2 times.
Meet the tunnel boring machines
Tradition dictates that a tunnel boring machine is given a female name before it can start tunnelling, granting good luck for the project ahead.
- Joan – named for Joan Kirner, Victoria’s first female Premier
- Meg – named for Meg Lanning, Australian cricket captain
- Alice – named for Alice Appleford, a heroic nurse from WWI and WWII
- Millie – named for Millie Peacock, Victoria’s first female MP