TUNNELLING on Sydney's North West Rail Link project is more than a third complete as the first of the project's four tunnel boring machines broke through into the new Showground Station site, which is one eight new stations being delivered as part of the $8.3 billion project.
Showground station is being built underground with platforms about 20 metres beneath the surface, providing access to existing residential development, the Castle Hill Showground and nearby employment areas.
"This is Australia's largest public transport project – the rapid progress being made shows when we start a major project we power on with delivering it as quickly as possible," NSW Premier Mike Baird said.
Transport and Infrastructure Minister Andrew Constance said the North West Rail Link is the first stage of Sydney's new rapid transit railway system and will provide a significant boost to capacity across the network.
"From the end of the project at Chatswood, rapid transit services will continue under Sydney Harbour, through new stations in the CBD and west to Bankstown."
The North West Rail Link is ahead of schedule with services to start in the first half of 2019, delivering a train every four minutes in the peak.
The first tunnel boring machine, Elizabeth, started tunnelling in September last year – four months ahead of schedule – and is now halfway through its nine kilometre journey from Bella Vista to Cherrybrook.
Over the coming weeks, TBM Elizabeth will undergo maintenance as she is moved through the Showground station area, before setting off again towards Castle Hill station and then on to Cherrybrook where she will be pulled from the ground.
The four TBMs in the ground have so far built more than 12 kilometres of new tunnels, well over a third of the new 30 kilometre tunnelling task. The twin 15 kilometre tunnels from Bella Vista to Epping are Australia's longest ever railway tunnels.