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Thu May 28 2020

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Wanted: trainee TBM drivers

5 Mar 19 Locals in the Australian state of Victoria are being invited to apply to train as drivers of the massive tunnel boring machines (TBMs) that will dig Melbourne’s Metro Tunnel.

First to start work will be the red TBM, which is called Joan
First to start work will be the red TBM, which is called Joan

Premier Daniel Andrews and minister for transport infrastructure Jacinta Allan announced the unusual recruitment opportunity at the site of the future North Melbourne station, where the first of four tunnel boring machines is in place, ready to be assembled. The Herrenknecht TBMs have been built in China.

Six trainee TBM drivers will be hired – all from Victoria – with the recruitment process to begin this month and successful candidates set to start training in May. The successful candidates will be required to have an appreciation of mechanics, knowledge of civil engineering and an understanding of geology.

The trainees will take part an accelerated training programme led by tunnels and stations contractor CYP Design & Construction’s TBM operators, tunnellers and engineers, who have worked on some of the biggest infrastructure projects around the world.

Training will include a time on a TBM simulator that provides a computer-generated replica of the control panel and recreates the geologies and operating conditions underground.

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“The successful candidates will get the incredible opportunity to work on the biggest public transport project ever built in Victoria, while gaining the specialist skills needed to operate these massive, complex tunnelling machines,” said Allan. “We’re making sure local workers have the skills to build the major infrastructure projects for Victoria’s future.” 

The first two TBMs will be launched from the North Melbourne site mid-this year to dig the twin 9km rail tunnels. Each TBM has its own coloured cutterhead – red, blue, green and yellow. The red TBM – named Joan after former premier Joan Kirner – arrived in Melbourne on Saturday 2 February. The blue TBM is called named Meg after the captain of Australia’s women’s national cricket team Meg Lanning while the green and yellow machines are named after wartime military nurse Alice Appleford and Victoria’s first female MP Millie Peacock.

Last year the Victoria government announced that a tunnelling centre will be established in Melbourne to train the thousands of local workers that will deliver the state’s pipeline of tunnelling projects — including the Metro Tunnel, Westgate Tunnel, North East Link and Suburban Rail Loop. The Victorian Tunnelling Centre will open later this year.

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