City East Cable Tunnel Milestone

Jan 21, 2014

The Thiess Tunnelling Team is celebrating an early breakthrough on the 3.2 kilometre City East Cable Tunnel. The 3.5 metre internal diameter segmentally lined tunnel is a critical component in Ausgrid’s future proofing of Sydney’s electricity supply network.

After launching the TBM at the Riley Street, Surry Hills Substation in January 2013, the team achieved breakthrough at the City North Substation on 29 October, 40 calendar days ahead of schedule. Project Manager Tim Burns praised his team and said the outstanding TBM excavation performance gives the project a real shot of finishing well ahead of the May 2015 completion target. "This breakthrough is a huge moment, the culmination of four years of work. We set up on site 23 months ago and this milestone is a huge tribute to all the hard work the team has put into it."

Tunnelling beneath the vast and complex foundations and services of a large mature city demands special expertise and Tim says the Thiess Tunnelling Team brings unique knowhow. "This is a classic Thiess job where everyone on the team digs in to meet the challenges. At the end of the day it’s about our core value of trust," Tim said. On any shift, around 20 people were directly involved in the tunnelling operation with 9 people deployed on the machine and the balance engaged in tunnel logistics and maintenance.

Safety is number one priority on the project which has been recognised in the 2013 New South Wales Master Builders Association Excellence in Construction Awards. City East Cable Tunnel won the Site Safety – Civil Construction award with the judges saying the project team had invested both time and resources to significantly reduce risks for tunnel workers.

Such a major project in a dense urban setting also requires sophisticated community and environmental expertise. Tim says those interfaces have been just as effective as the excavation works. "We also couldn’t have asked for a better client. Our relationship with Ausgrid is based on open communication and trust and they have supported us the whole way."

Once civil works are completed, the mechanical and electrical fit-out of the tunnel is the final stage of the project.

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