TBM Else broke through a rock wall into the cavern beneath Roma Street, marking the team’s biggest milestone yet for the project. It means that Cross River Rail’s future Woolloongabba and Roma Street stations are now connected by a 2.5km tunnel that runs beneath the Brisbane River and central business district (CBD).

The public-private partnership team for the tunnel, stations and property development (TSD) work is Pulse, a consortium led by three companies within Hochtief’s Australian business Cimic Group: Pacific Partnerships, CPB Contractors and UGL. The team also includes international partners DIF, BAM and Ghella. The contract was awarded in April 2019.

The section of tunnel that the 1,350-tonne TBM has just finished excavating will be used in the future to take sports fans between athletics and swimming events during the 2032 Olympic Games.

More than 2,900 people are currently working on the Cross River Rail project, including more than 370 directly involved in building the twin tunnels.

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Additional health and safety measures have allowed workers to stay on the job throughout lockdown, including segregated work teams with work ‘zones’, only project critical face-to-face meetings occurring, strong social distancing measures, and all non-essential travel between or to site ceasing.

The 165m-long TBM Else launched from the Woolloongabba site in early 2021 and tunnelled 2,580m beneath the Brisbane River and CBD before breaking through at Roma Street. The Roma Street cavern is 280-metres long and about 15m high.

The two TBMs are named in honour of two Queensland women – trailblazing engineer Else Shepherd and pioneering feminist Merle Thornton.

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