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North West Rail Link project reaches tunnelling milestone

The first tunnel boring machine (TBM) used for Australia’s North West Rail Link project has broken through, marking a major tunnelling milestone for the scheme.

The TBM, Elizabeth, broke through into an excavated area that will house the future Norwest Station in Sydney.

New South Wales premier Mike Baird and Australia’s minister for transport were on site to announce the project is running ahead of schedule and $300M (£158M) under budget. This announcement comes just days after the fourth and final TBM, Maria, was deployed.

Elizabeth has tunnelled 2.1km to the Norwest site from Bella Vista, a suburb in north west Sydney.

The TBM has excavated more than 206,000t of crushed rock, including both sandstone and shale. More than 7,300 concrete segments have also been installed to line the new rail tunnel.

“This is an exciting day for Sydneysiders and another clear sign that construction of this critical rail link is powering ahead,” Mr Baird said.  “It was only in September that we launched this first massive machine at Bella Vista – in that time it has tunnelled 2.1km to reach today’s historic breakthrough at Norwest.”

Over the coming weeks, Elizabeth will be moved through the Norwest Station area, before setting off again towards Showground Station in western Australia while the other three machines, Florence, Isabelle and Maria, continue their work.

The North West Rail Link is scheduled to be open to commuters in the first half of 2019.

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