Industry Infrastructure, Rail industry news (Australia, New Zealand), Tunnelling, Victoria

Change of scope for Suburban Rail Loop

With preparations ramping up for the start of tunnelling on Suburban Rail Loop (SRL), a new approach for tunnelling work is set to significantly reduce disruptions around SRL project work sites.

The Suburban Rail Loop Authroity (SRLA) been working with its Tunnels South contractor Suburban Connect to improve outcomes for the community as it builds the tunnels between Cheltenham and Glen Waverley.

Tunnel boring machines (TBMs) will now be first launched from a recycling facility in Clarinda instead of the nearby train stabling facility in Heatherton (pending planning approvals), with four TBMs to be used instead of six. These changes will reduce the impact of tunnelling on residents near the stabling facility.

A ‘ground freezing’ technique will also be used to build most of the safety passages between the twin tunnels. This technology uses pipes drilled deep underground and injected with chilled brine – salt and water. This stabilises the ground, making it safer to build the cross passages that link the twin tunnels. Doing this underground instead of from the surface means large machinery is largely not required above ground in residential areas, reducing disruption for residents and local road traffic by 90 per cent, and preventing disruptions for nearly 100 homes and businesses.

Minister for Suburban Rail Loop Danny Pearson celebrated the development.

“Delivering major projects of this scale requires ongoing consultation with the community and stakeholders – and we will continue to actively look for ways to minimise disruptions as much as we can,” he said.

“This is a great outcome for the communities near Suburban Rail Loop work sites – and I can’t wait to see tunnelling get underway in 2026 so that passengers are travelling through the SRL by 2035.”

The Tunnels South contract to build the 16 kilometres of twin tunnels between Cheltenham and Glen Waverley was awarded last year to Suburban Connect, a global consortium of renowned companies CPB Contractors, Ghella and Acciona Construction.

Construction of SRL East is creating up to 8000 direct local jobs in full construction, with more than 1200 people already working on the project.

Tunnelling will start in 2026, and trains will be taking passengers by 2035.