First Cross River Rail tunnel boring machine launched

Still image from Cross River Rail’s virtual tour of the Tunnel Boring Machines video.

The first of two Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) to work on the Cross River Rail project has been launched under the Woolloongabba site station cavern.

The machine has been named Else after trailblazing female engineer Else Shephard AM and will soon begin tunnelling.

Else is expected to cut through 20 to 30 metres of hard rock every day before emerging at the project’s northern portal at Normanby towards the end of the year.

This achievement marks the beginning of Cross River Rail’s year of tunnelling in 2021. It was marked by a traditional indigenous blessing ceremony to wish TBM Else and the tunnellers safe passage as they make their way underground.

TBM Merle, the second machine to be launched will follow Else shortly, to ensure all the twin tunnels are complete by the end of 2021.

Each machine will carve out one of the Cross River Rail’s 5.9 kilometre twin tunnels, passing underneath the CBD and Brisbane River. The machines will also install 25,000 concrete segments along the tunnel walls as they go.

Up to 15 people will work on these machines at any one time.

From Woolloongabba, the TBMs will tunnel under the river and break through to Albert Street station at a depth of 31 metres in mid-2021 and continue to Roma Street before emerging at the project’s northern portal at Normanby.

At their deepest point the TBMs will reach 58 metres below the surface at Kangaroo Point and they will create a tunnel 42 metres below the Brisbane River.

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