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Thu July 18 2019

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First TBM arrives for Melbourne tunnel

16 Jan The first of two tunnel boring machines (TBM) has arrived in Melbourne, Australia, ready to be assembled to build the West Gate Tunnel.

Bella's test assembly was carried out in China
Bella's test assembly was carried out in China

TBM Bella is 90m long, 15.6m high and weighs 4,000 tonnes, making her one of the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere. She is named after Bella Guerin, who in 1883 was the first woman to graduate from a university in Australia. The other machine will be called after Vida Goldstein, who was a campaigner for women’s rights, establishing the right for females to vote and stand for election.

The TBMs were ordered from Herrenknecht a year ago (link opens in new tab).

The hundreds of pieces that make up Bella will be delivered over the next few weeks to the tunnel’s northern portals in Footscray and then assembled over the coming months.

Specialised training for the West Gate Tunnel project has now also started for more than 30 tunnel workers. A hyperbaric chamber has been installed on site so that they can learn about operating in pressurised conditions. Work will take place up to 35m below ground level and the workers will need to spend up to two hours depressurising before returning to the surface. Up to 20 people will work in the TBM at any one time.

Tunnel boring on the longest of the West Gate Tunnel twin tunnels will start by the middle of the year.

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