Brisbane Cross River Rail’s first TBM breaks through

The first of Cross River Rail’s TBMs broke through beneath Roma Street. Image courtesy of Cross River Rail.

Brisbane’s Cross River Rail project reached a new milestone yesterday as the first of the two massive tunnel boring machines (TBMs) excavating under Brisbane River broke into the underground cavern beneath Roma Street.

The two 1350-tonne TBMs – Else and Merle – have been excavating twin tunnels under the Brisbane River and CBD from Woolloongabba to Normanby since early 2021, while two roadheaders dig twin tunnels south from Woolloongabba to Boggo Road.

TBM Else launched from the Woolloongabba site in early 2021 and tunnelled 2,580 metres D before breaking through at Roma Street yesterday. TBM Merle is following on a parallel track and has so far excavated  2,186 metres.

The TBMs work at a rate of 20 to 30 metres per day. TBM Merle is also expected to breakthrough at Roma Street in coming weeks, with both continuing through to the project’s northern portal at Normanby and emerging by the end of the year.

The Roma Street station precinct will play a key role during Brisbane’s Olympics Games in 2032 when it will provide sports fans easy access to The Gabba stadium as a key Olympics venue.

Queensland’s Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the milestone was significant in progressing Cross River Rail’s future Woolloongabba and Roma Street stations, key to securing the 2032 Olympics.

“Everything about Cross River Rail is big, but this is the biggest milestone yet for this transformation project which is an important part of the Palaszczuk Government’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan,” Mr Bailey said.

Inner-city Station upgrades

The milestone came as major progresses were also made this week on two inner-city station upgrades for Brisbane – South Bank and Auchenflower.

The Queensland Government appointed Hutchinson Builders as Design Development Contractor  for South Bank station’s platform one, where the Palaszczuk Government is investing $24 million on a new full-length raised platform.

“This upgrade will deliver a full-length raised platform, giving easier, safer access for the community, including those using mobility devices, seniors and customers travelling with prams and luggage,” Minister Bailey said.

“New platform seating and waiting shelters will improve customer comfort, while new lighting, CCTV, and station signage will further modernise platform facilities.”

Hutchinson Builders had previously delivered station upgrade projects to the Queensland Government for Milton station, Sandgate station and the heritage-listed South Brisbane station.

The Auchenflower station is another inner city station receiving major upgrades as part of the Queensland Rail Station Accessibility Upgrade Program.  The project reached a new milestone this week as a new 36-metre pedestrian overbridge was installed with the help of a 700-tonne crane.

The Auchenflower and Southbank Station upgrades are part of Queensland Government’s investment of more than $500 million to improve accessibility for commuters across the South East Queensland network.

Construction at South Bank gets underway later this year and is anticipated to be complete in early 2023.

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