Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian today announced the fourth massive North West Rail Link tunnel boring machine has started digging and has been named ‘Maria’, after 19th century Aboriginal rights advocate Maria Lock.
On major tunnelling projects around the world, underground workers look to Saint Barbara for protection and, because of that, machines that work underground are traditionally given female names.
Ms Berejiklian said this is a significant milestone on the North West Rail Link – a centrepiece of the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government’s record infrastructure spend that will transform Sydney for generations to come.
“All four of our mega tunnelling machines are now in the ground as we get on with the job of delivering this critical $8.3 billion investment in public transport as quickly as possible,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“The North West Rail Link is the first transport project in Australian construction history to use four Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs).
“After starting four months early in September last year, tunnelling is now well underway as we deliver Australia’s longest railway tunnels – twin 15 kilometre tunnels from Bella Vista to Epping.
“The North West Rail Link is currently ahead of schedule as we work towards rapid transit rail services starting in the first half of 2019 with a train every four minutes for customers in the peak.
“This Government’s vision for a brand new rapid transit rail system for Sydney is well and truly coming to fruition.
“Labor announced and re-announced this project for more than a decade – without providing the funds or political will to get things started. The Liberals & Nationals Government started the North West Rail Link from scratch and now it’s all systems go.
“If we receive a mandate next March, the Rapid Transit network will be extended right across our great city, travelling under the CBD and west to Bankstown, giving public transport customers access to fast, reliable and modern turn-up-and-go services.”
So far, more than 278,000 tonnes of crushed rock has been excavated by the first three TBMs, as they make significant progress: