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Fri January 28 2022

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First cohort graduates from Australian tunnelling school

29 Nov 21 An Australian tunnelling training centre modelled on the one set up for London’s Crossrail has produced its first round of graduates.

The first 26 trainees taught at the Victorian Tunnelling Centre are now working on Melboune’s Metro Tunnel project. Other upcoming major tunnelling projects will also draw on the centre’s training facilities.

The centre includes life-sized replicas of mined and bored tunnels and a tunnel boring machine (TBM) cutterhead.

The tunnelling centre is located at Holmesglen Institute’s Drummond Street campus in Chadstone and was built as part of the Metro Tunnel project’s contract with contractor CYP Design & Construction made up of Lendlease, John Holland and Bouygues Construction. It has facilities to train up to 5,000 workers a year in underground construction and maintenance, including TBM operation.

Those studying at the tunnelling centre can earn certificate and diploma qualifications as well as safety-based training for working underground.  

It is the only facility of its kind in Australia where students can train within replica mined and bored tunnels on the same site. It is one of only a few such facilities in the world and was partly modelled on the Tunnelling & Underground Construction Academy (TUCA) established for Crossrail.

The TBM replica tunnel is built at the same 7.28m diameter as the Metro Tunnel, and the replica mined tunnel is the width of a three-lane freeway. Training includes augmented and virtual reality.

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The centre will train skilled workers for the state government’s pipeline of infrastructure projects in the coming years, including the North East Link and Suburban Rail Loop.

Construction starts next year on Suburban Rail Loop (SRL) East between Cheltenham and Box Hill. The scheme, which will create up to 8,000 direct jobs, involves twin 26km tunnels.

Construction is under way on early works for North East Link, which will fix the missing link in the city’s freeway network. The project’s 6.5km tunnels are set to be Victoria’s longest road tunnels. Two TBMs – each over 15m in diameter – will be used to excavate the twin tunnels. Some 8,000 jobs are set to be created on the tunnelling package alone.

Minister for transport infrastructure Jacinta Allan said: “The Tunnelling Centre is creating a pathway for the next generation of local workers to play their part on projects like Suburban Rail Loop and North East Link, that not only slashes travel times but supports our economic recovery.

“We’ve finished digging the Metro Tunnel’s 18km of tunnels - over the next decade we’ll be tunnelling a further 20km for the West Gate Tunnel and North East Link alone, with the massive Suburban Rail Loop still to come.”

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