NSW Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance last week announced that tunnelling on the $8.3 billion Sydney Metro Northwest has passed the 70 per cent mark with 22 kilometres of tunnelling now complete.
Mr Constance congratulated tunnel builders Thiess John Holland Dragados for setting a new standard in tunnelling, including Australian-first innovations like a $1.2 million tunnel simulation centre and state-of-the-art 3D goggle technology to train a new generation of tunnellers.
"In just one year, 22 kilometres of the 30-kilometre tunnelling task has been completed – an outstanding result by our tunnel builders and their four mega tunnel boring machines deep under Sydney's North West," Mr Constance said.
"Tunnelling is a highly specialised skill and we're nurturing it for the future – I congratulate the tunnel builders on Sydney Metro Northwest for investing in their workforce for the future."
More than 420 tunnellers have graduated from Australia's first Tunnel Simulation and Training Centre at Sydney Metro Northwest's Showground Station site.
Unique features of the centre include a life-size replica of a Sydney Metro tunnel as well as 3D virtual reality goggles which provide a real-life perspective from within a tunnel boring machine.
"This investment is helping create the next generation of skilled tunnellers," TJHD project director Terry Sleiman said.
"The joint venture companies take their responsibility very seriously to develop a highly skilled and competent tunnelling workforce for not just this job, but future projects. There's a lot of work on the horizon and this investment in training will actively support the NSW Government's infrastructure program."
The Sydney Metro Northwest project will connect Epping to Rouse Hill, in Sydney's growing north-west region. It includes eight new railway stations at Cherrybrook, Castle Hill, Showground, Norwest, Bella Vista, Kellyville, Rouse Hill and Cudgegong Road. The rail link, which is anticipated to be operational before the end of 2019, will feature fully automated, single-deck trains.