Tunnelling

Sydney Metro City & Southwest

Tunnelling finished in March 2020 on the twin tunnels from Chatswood to Sydenham, including under Sydney Harbour and through the Sydney CBD. 

The tunnel boring machines (TBM) tracker used to follow the historic dig by the five tunnel boring machines on the City & Southwest project can be found here.

Sydney Metro West

The tender process has started for tunnelling between Westmead and The Bays precinct with the first tunnel boring machine expected to be in the ground before the end of 2022.

About our tunnels

Image showing Sydney tunnel depths
Image showing Sydney tunnel depths

Sydney tunnel depths

Sydney tunnel depths
Image showing how a TBM works
Image showing how a TBM works

How a typical TBM works

How a typical TBM works
Sydney Metro: Getting ready for city tunnelling, June 2018Play Video

Getting ready for city tunnelling - June 2018

Getting ready for city tunnelling - June 2018
Marrickville Cutterhead Lift
Marrickville Cutterhead Lift

Marrickville cutterhead lift

Marrickville cutterhead lift
Sydney Metro: Launch of tunnel boring machine NancyPlay Video

Launch of TBM Nancy

Launch of TBM Nancy
Barangaroo TBM  5 Cutterhead
Barangaroo TBM  5 Cutterhead

Barangaroo TBM cutterhead

Barangaroo TBM cutterhead
Sydney Metro: TBM Mum ShirlPlay Video

Launch of TBM Mum Shirl

Launch of TBM Mum Shirl
Sydney Metro: final city break-throughPlay Video

Final city breakthrough

Final city breakthrough
Barangaroo TBM Mum Shirl Cutterhead Lift
Barangaroo TBM Mum Shirl Cutterhead Lift

TBM Mum Shirl being lifted

TBM Mum Shirl being lifted
Sydney Metro: Tunnel Boring Machine Wendy launchPlay Video

Launch of TBM Wendy

Launch of TBM Wendy
Crows Nest BreakthroughPlay Video

Tunnelling halfway with breakthrough at Crows Nest

Tunnelling halfway with breakthrough at Crows Nest
Victoria Cross Wendy Breakthrough
Victoria Cross Wendy Breakthrough

Victoria Cross breakthrough

Victoria Cross breakthrough
Sydney Metro: A day in the life of a tunnelling segmentPlay Video

Tunnel builders

Tunnel builders
Chatswood Dive Tunnells
Chatswood Dive Tunnells

Chatswood dive tunnels

Chatswood dive tunnels
Diagram showing a specialised tunnel boring machine
Diagram showing a specialised tunnel boring machine

Specialised TBM used to cross the Sydney Harbour

Specialised TBM used to cross the Sydney Harbour
TBM Kathleen Barge Move
TBM Kathleen Barge Move

TBM Kathleen barge move

TBM Kathleen barge move
Sydney Metro: Historic harbour crossingPlay Video

Historic harbour crossing

Historic harbour crossing
Sydney Metro: First harbour tunnel breakthroughPlay Video

First harbour tunnel breakthrough - February 2020

First harbour tunnel breakthrough - February 2020

Our tunnel boring machines

Five tunnel boring machines (TBMs) were used to deliver the tunnels between Chatswood and Sydenham for Sydney Metro City & Southwest. This included a specialised TBM for the section under Sydney Harbour because of the ground and rock conditions found at the bottom of the harbour.

Four mega tunnel boring machines built the twin tunnels on Sydney Metro Northwest. This was the first time in Australian history four TBMs were used on the one transport infrastructure project.

Naming the TBMs

On major tunnelling projects around the world, underground workers look to Saint Barbara for protection. Because of this, machines that work underground are traditionally given female names.

Chatswood TBM Wendy

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Sydney Metro City & Southwest TBMs

Nancy Bird Walton
Nancy Bird Walton

TBM1 Nancy was named in honour of Australian aviation pioneer Nancy Bird Walton OBE, the first female pilot in the Commonwealth to carry passengers and the founder of the Australian Women Pilots’ Association.

TBM1 Nancy was named in honour of Australian aviation pioneer Nancy Bird Walton OBE, the first female pilot in the Commonwealth to carry passengers and the founder of the Australian Women Pilots’ Association.
Mum Shirl
Mum Shirl

TBM2 Mum Shirl was named in honour of Colleen Shirley Perry, a Wiradjuri woman who dedicated her life to her community, raising 60 foster children and was involved in establishing legal, medical, housing and cultural services for the Aboriginal community.

TBM2 Mum Shirl was named in honour of Colleen Shirley Perry, a Wiradjuri woman who dedicated her life to her community, raising 60 foster children and was involved in establishing legal, medical, housing and cultural services for the Aboriginal community.
Chatswood Dive TBM Wendy launch
Chatswood Dive TBM Wendy launch

TBM3 Wendy was named after Wendy Schreiber, a volunteer at Bear Cottage – the only children’s hospice in NSW and long standing charity partner for the Sydney Metro tunnelling contractor John Holland CPB Ghella.

TBM3 Wendy was named after Wendy Schreiber, a volunteer at Bear Cottage – the only children’s hospice in NSW and long standing charity partner for the Sydney Metro tunnelling contractor John Holland CPB Ghella.
Mabel Newill
Mabel Newill

TBM4 Mabel was named after Mabel Newill, a matron at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital - she helped stop the spread of typhoid in Sydney, in the early 1900s.

TBM4 Mabel was named after Mabel Newill, a matron at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital - she helped stop the spread of typhoid in Sydney, in the early 1900s.
Blues Point TBM Kathleen
Blues Point TBM Kathleen

TBM5 Kathleen was named after Kathleen Butler, who worked on the Sydney Harbour Bridge - Technical advisor to legendary engineer John Bradfield a century ago.

TBM5 Kathleen was named after Kathleen Butler, who worked on the Sydney Harbour Bridge - Technical advisor to legendary engineer John Bradfield a century ago.

Sydney Metro Northwest TBMs

TBM1 breaking through at Cherrybrook
TBM1 breaking through at Cherrybrook

TBM1 Elizabeth was named after colonial pioneer Elizabeth Rouse, by Alexandra Marshall from Rouse Hill Anglican College after winning a school competition.

TBM1 Elizabeth was named after colonial pioneer Elizabeth Rouse, by Alexandra Marshall from Rouse Hill Anglican College after winning a school competition.
TBM2 Florence breakthrough at Showground
TBM2 Florence breakthrough at Showground

TBM2 Florence was named after Australia’s first female engineer and architect, Florence Mary Taylor.

TBM2 Florence was named after Australia’s first female engineer and architect, Florence Mary Taylor.
TBM3 Isabelle breakthrough at Epping
TBM3 Isabelle breakthrough at Epping

TBM3 Isabelle was named after four-year old Isabelle Andersen by tunnel builders CPB John Holland Dragados. Isabelle represented the families
 of the tunnelling workers.

TBM3 Isabelle was named after four-year old Isabelle Andersen by tunnel builders CPB John Holland Dragados. Isabelle represented the families
 of the tunnelling workers.
TBM4 Maria breakthrough at Cheltenham
TBM4 Maria breakthrough at Cheltenham

TBM4 Maria was named after 19th century Aboriginal rights advocate Maria Lock.

TBM4 Maria was named after 19th century Aboriginal rights advocate Maria Lock.

Tunnel safety

Safety of customers is the number one priority. Tunnel safety measures include cross passages linking the twin tunnels and constant camera coverage.

Tunnel safety

Inside the tunnels

Cross passages link the twin tunnels every 240 metres

Sydney's Rail Future