Cross River Rail’s first mega machine ready to go

The first of two massive Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) that will excavate the bulk of Cross River Rail’s 5.9km twin tunnels is built and ready to go, marking an exciting milestone for the transformational project.

The project’s first 1350-tonne TBM has been checked at Herrenknecht’s northside facility to make sure it was in peak condition, before being transported in parts to Woolloongabba.

The same process will be completed with our second mega machine next month.

More than 40 workers have been busy refurbishing the two TBMs’ gantries, assembling their shields and testing all their systems to make sure they’re ready to go.

The first TBM has been now disassembled and transported to Cross River Rail’s Woolloongabba site, where it will then be reassembled, with the second TBM to follow over December and January.

Crews remain on track to launch the TBMs from the Woolloongabba station site early next year.

The TBMs will each tunnel under the Brisbane River to Albert Street station in mid-2021, before continuing on to the new Roma Street station and finally emerging at the project’s northern portal at Normanby.

At the same time as they’re making their way through hard rock, the TBMs will install massive 4.2 tonne precast concrete segments to line the tunnels.

The TBMs are not only a vital component in the construction of Cross River Rail – they are also a tangible reminder of the project’s importance for jobs and rebuilding the economy.

More than 100 local subcontractors and suppliers are benefiting from more than $10 million in work to help get these TBMs ready to tunnel Brisbane’s new underground.

At a time when our economy needs it most, this project is supporting local businesses across the state.

Cross River Rail is also injecting more than $4 million a day into the local economy and 2,400 people have worked on the project since delivery began in 2017.


Tunnel Boring Machine fast facts:

  • Two TBMs are being refitted and refurbished at Herrenknecht’s north-side facility;
  • More than 100 local companies have been supporting Herrenknecht to prepare the TBMs, including QIC Protective Coatings (Birkdale), LCR Group (Wacol), AC Hargreaves Pty Ltd (Seventeen Mile Rocks), C&L Tool Centre (Hendra), ShapeCUT (Carole Park), and Citi-steel (Darra);
  • The TBMs’ back-up gantries have been repurposed from the Sydney Metro project;
  • Each TBM weighs 1350 tonnes and is 165 metres long;
  • A crew of up to 15 people will work in a TBM at any one time;
  • The cutterhead weighs 106 tonnes and measures 7.2 metres in diameter;
  • It includes 39 cutting discs that exert up to 32 tonnes of pressure each;
  • TBMs will work at a rate of 20 to 30 metres per day;
  • At their deepest point the tunnels will be 58m below the surface at Kangaroo Point, and 42m below the Brisbane River;
  • Each TBM is fully equipped with crew facilities, offices and toilets;
  • The TBMs have to be disassembled to be transported and it will take more than 40 truck movements to transport the TBMs to the Woolloongabba worksite;
  • The TBMs will generate 290,000 cubic metres of spoil as they make way for the twin Cross River Rail tunnels.