Cross River Rail tunnel underway as massive rock breaker gets going

Tunnelling has officially started on Queensland’s largest infrastructure project, with a massive roadheader roaring to life as part of Brisbane’s game-changing underground rail project.

The Project’s first roadheader has been put to work breaking rock and excavating the first part of a tunnel section at the Roma Street site, where a 280-metre station cavern will be excavated.

And this intensive new stage of Cross River Rail’s construction couldn’t be better timed.

There are already over 2,000 people already working on the Cross River Rail project and that number will peak at around 3000 workers at the height of construction in 2021/2022.

That means that not only has Cross River Rail been able to keep workers working through the COVID-19 crisis, it will continue delivering jobs for Queenslanders well into the future.

The start of tunnelling is also a significant milestone for Cross River Rail, with work on the Tunnels and Stations component of this once-in-a-generation infrastructure project starting to ramp up significantly.

Once complete, Cross River Rail’s 5.9 kilometres of twin tunnels and four underground stations will not only allow us to run more trains more often to, from and through Brisbane, they will transform forever the way we travel across the whole of SouthEeast Queensland.

The roadheader at Roma Street was assembled in an access shaft 18-metres below ground, and it can excavate up to 50 tonnes of rock and soil per hour.

The Roma Street tunnelling site is covered by an enormous ‘acoustic shed’ which stands at 18m high and 60m long, which will minimise noise and contain dust during the 24-hour construction work.

Meanwhile, demolition across the Roma Street site is picking up pace with the old Hotel Jen building disappearing at a rate of one floor a week. Early demolition works have already started on one of Brisbane’s least loved buildings, the Brisbane Transit Centre.

Roma Street roadheader fast facts:

  • The roadheader is 22 metres long end to end and weighs 115 tonnes
  • The roadheader cabs were manufactured by Queensland family-owned company QMW
  • The machine arrived at the site in five pieces which were lowered into the shaft using a gantry crane and then assembled at the bottom of the shaft
  • Roma Street station cavern will be approximately 27 metres below ground and 280 metres long
  • The roadheader will also be used to excavate parts of the Roma Street service tunnels
  • The access shaft is 12m wide x 16m long x 18 m deep
  • The gantry crane weighs 50 tonnes and is 24 m long
  • A second roadheader will begin work at Roma Street later this year.