Engineering, Passenger Rail

$2.8bn Sydney Metro tunnel contract awarded

A consortium of John Holland, CPB Contractors and Ghella has won the NSW Government’s $2.81 billion tunnelling contract for the second stage of the Sydney Metro urban rail project.

The first of five tunnel boring machines (TBMs), to build the new twin metro rail tunnels under Sydney Harbour and the CBD, will be in the ground by the end of next year, Premier Gladys Berejiklian and transport minister Andrew Constance announced on Thursday, June 22.

Ahead of awarding the tunnelling contract, Transport for NSW took rock soil samples from more than 50 boreholes beneath Sydney Harbour, which determined a specialised TBM will be required to tunnel through a combination of sandstone, clay and sediments between North Sydney and the new metro station at Barangaroo.

The other four TBMs required for the project are more standard, hard rock TBMs.

“Today’s historic milestone unlocks a generational change to the way people will get around Sydney,” Berejiklian said.

“The scale of this project and what it will do for the ease and speed of travelling across Sydney is hard to comprehend. We’ve done the hard yards and now it’s delivery time for the next stage of Sydney Metro.”

With first trains expected to operate on the first stage of Sydney Metro by 2019, the second stage of the project will take the rail line under Sydney Harbour, through the CBD and on to Bankstown.

“This new metro line will eventually stretch 66 kilometres and connect dozens of suburbs along the way,” Constance said. “When services through the City start in 2024, the tunnels will move more people than the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Harbour Tunnel combined.”

The contract signed on Thursday involves:

  • delivering four double-shield, hard rock, gripper type TBMs and one specialised TBM for tunnelling under Sydney Harbour;
  • building twin 15.5km metro rail tunnels from Chatswood to Sydenham; and,
  • the excavation and civil works for six new metro railway stations at Crows Nest, North Sydney, Barangaroo, Martin Place, Pitt Street and Waterloo.

The Government expects the tunnelling contract work to be completed in 2021, at which point work will continue along the 30-kilometre length of the second stage to lay tracks, fit out stations and upgrade the existing rail line from Sydenham to Bankstown to metro rail.

Seven major contracts will make up the project, with Thursday’s tunnelling contract the first to be awarded. The Government says the massive scale of the project means the tunnelling contract value may vary, due to ongoing fine-tuning and optimisation involving the six other major Stage 2 contracts, for which tenders are yet to be received.

The total project cost for Sydney Metro City & Southwest has been set between $11.5 billion and $12.5 billion, compared to the $8.3 billion price tag for stage one of the project, called Sydney Metro Northwest.

John Holland’s chief executive officer Joe Barr said the joint venture was honoured to be selected to help “build a lasting legacy that will transform Sydney”.

“This iconic project will build the first ever rail tunnels under Sydney Harbour – a crucial transport connection to meet the ever growing needs of our global city,” he said.

“This one-in-a-generation project will transform the rail network in Sydney, delivering a step-change in public transport capacity and customer experience, and it is a privilege to be trusted to build it.”

Barr said the joint venture’s construction solution addresses the challenges of intricate underground construction in the heart of the Sydney CBD, where new stations will be built at Barangaroo and Pitt Street, and new metro platforms will be built beneath existing infrastructure at Martin Place and Central.

The project also includes new stations north of the bridge, at Crows Nest and Victoria Cross.

John Holland’s NSW/ACT executive general manager Scott Olsen said the tunnelling project continued a great relationship between the engineering firm and the NSW Government.

John Holland won the $1.15 billion tunnels and stations civil works contract for the first stage of Sydney Metro, as part of a joint venture with CPB and Dragados, and is also working with Hong Kong’s MTR Corporation, CPB and UGL Rail on the $3.7 billion Operations, Trains and Systems contract for Stage 1.

“We bring vast local and international expertise in tunnelling and the delivery of major infrastructure in urban areas,” Olsen said.

“We are focussed on delivering a world-class project in partnership with Transport for NSW, with sustainable design, opportunities for local employment and a socially inclusive procurement strategy.”

Construction is scheduled to commence on the new tunnelling contract in the coming weeks, John Holland said in a statement.

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