Tunnelling has officially begun on Cross River Rail, with the first roadheader assembled and digging out underneath Roma Street.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the occasion marked a major step for the Brisbane rail project.
“Above ground demolition has also been underway for several months at the site of the new station – but today is a huge milestone for this project as we start tunnelling for the first time,” she said.
“This is just the beginning of the underground works, with 5.9 kilometres of twin tunnels and four underground stations to be excavated in total.”
The roadheader was assembled at the site, 18 metres below ground, and is beginning to excavate the 280m long station cavern.
Now underway, the roadheader can excavate up to 50 tonnes of rock and soil an hour, with disruption protected by the acoustic shed at ground level, which stands five storeys high and is 60m long.
Local Queensland company QMW was involved in the manufacture of the roadheader, supplying the cabs. The locally made cabs and remaining five pieces were lowered into the shaft with a gantry crane and then put together underground.
The 22 metre long and 115 tonne roadheader is the first of two machines that will be working at Roma Street.
As work underground progresses, more and more people are working at the various Cross River Rail sites. Already 1,800 people are employed as part of the project, with the total expected to reach 3,000 when the project is at its construction peak in two years.
State Development Minister Kate Jones said that the project is critical to Queensland’s economy.
“Multi-billion-dollar infrastructure projects like Cross River Rail are vital to Queensland’s economic recovery following COVID-19,” she said.
“Coronavirus has had a huge impact on our economy. But we won’t let it derail Queensland’s largest infrastructure project.”
Once complete, Cross River Rail will include 5.9km of tunnels and four underground stations. Roma Street station will be 27 metres below ground and replaces the former Hotel Jen building and Brisbane Transit Centre.
Currently, one floor a week of the Hotel Jen is being demolished.