Metro Tunnel mega machine sets course for State Library

Work has started to create the latest section of the Metro Tunnel – a one-kilometre stretch from Parkville to the new State Library Station at the northern end of Swanston St.

Tunnel boring machine (TBM) Joan was relaunched in mid-October to begin its journey into the heart of Melbourne’s CBD. The new metro-style line features five underground stations and will connect the Sunbury line to the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines with two 9km-long tunnels.

TBM Joan – named after Victoria’s first female premier, Joan Kirner – was the first TBM launched, in September 2019, and has since completed:

The western section of the Metro Tunnel from the tunnel entrance in Kensington to the new Arden Station in North Melbourne. 

The Arden to Parkville section, connecting Victoria’s world-renowned medical, research and education precinct.

TBM Meg – named after Australian women’s cricket captain Meg Lanning – will also soon be relaunched towards the CBD, following a parallel route to Joan. Once TBMs Joan and Meg break through at State Library, they will continue digging under Swanston St to link up with Town Hall Station.

TBM Joan was given a traditional blessing in honour of St Barbara, the patron saint of tunnelling. Professor Sharon Lewin of the Peter Doherty Institute was invited to carry out the ceremony on this occasion.

Parkville Station is fast taking shape with work on the station entrances and permanent station structures underground, which commuters will see in 2025, well underway. 

The third and fourth TBMs, Millie and Alice (named after Victoria’s first female MP Millie Peacock and wartime medical hero Alice Appleford), recently completed the 1.7km stretch from Anzac Station to the eastern tunnel entrance at South Yarra. 

They are being returned to the Anzac Station site and reassembled before starting tunnelling towards Town Hall Station in 2021. 

With all four TBMs now in action they have installed more than 31,000 concrete segments to form the rings lining the new tunnels and excavated more than 371,000 cubic metres of rock and soil.

Construction on the Metro Tunnel Project has continued throughout COVID-19 restrictions, with workers adhering to strict safety measures in line with the Victorian Government’s advice. 

The Metro Tunnel Project will create additional capacity for more than half a million passengers a week during peak periods and transform the way Victorians travel around Melbourne.

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