Fresh off its success at the recent state election, the Baird Government has started early works on the second Sydney Harbour rail crossing, the next stage of the government’s Sydney Rapid Transit project.
Over coming weeks, geotechnical drilling will occur up to 70m below Sydney Harbour, to help determine the best location for the new railway tunnels.
Baird, whose new cabinet features Andrew Constance as its transport minister, said this next stage of the Sydney Rapid Transit project signals the start of the government delivering its vision for Sydney as a “global city”.
“The new rail crossing of Sydney Harbour is the key to increasing capacity on our rail network by 60%,” the premier said, “allowing us to move an extra 100,000 people every hour right across Sydney.”
Constance, who took over as transport minister from now-treasurer Gladys Berejiklian, said the surface and underwater drilling was a critical first stage of the design process.
“While construction continues apace on the North West Rail Link (NWRL), we are already preparing for this vital next stage which will revolutionise the way people get around Sydney,” Constance said.
Currently under construction, the NWRL will connect Sydney’s growing north western suburbs with the existing rail network.
Eight new stations, starting at Cudgegong Road, Rouse Hill, will be built along a new rapid transit track – through tunnels underground and skytrain above ground – to connect with the existing network at Epping.
The Epping to Chatswood line will be closed for six to seven months in 2018/19, itself to be upgraded to rapid transit, creating a continuous rapid transit line, featuring automated, single-deck trains.
Wednesday’s announcement from Baird and Constance relates to the next stage of that line: its extension from Chatswood, through new railway stations in the CBD and west to Bankstsown, via a new underground crossing for Sydney Harbour.
“Sydney Rapid Transit will turn the city’s crush hour, into Sydney’s rush hour,” Constance quipped.
As part of early works, about 30 boreholes will be drilled. Roughly half will be beneath Sydney Harbour, with the rest on land either side of the proposed crossing.
On the harbour, a barge will be towed into position before its four legs are lowered to the seabed as much as 25m below the surface, then pushed to firm ground on the Harbour floor, Transport for NSW detailed.
The barge will be raised up 2m clear of the surface to provide a stable platform, allowing for a diamond-tipped drill to take core samples from depths of up to 70m below the harbour floor.
Divers will also be used throughout the process.
Geotechnical drilling is also set to take place at Sydneyham, in the Sydney CBD, North Sydney, Crows Nest and Artarmon, Transport for NSW added.