Works on Sydney’s twin metro railway tunnels under the city centre and deep under Sydney Harbour has begun, with a total of 31km expected to be tunnelled between Marrickville and Chatswood.

NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, and Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Andrew Constance, officially launched tunnel boring machine (TBM) Nancy —  named in honour of transport pioneer Nancy Bird Walton OBE — one of the five mega borers that will build the tunnels.

Nancy and another TBM will tunnel 8.1km from Marrickville to the new Sydney Metro station sites at Waterloo, Central, Pitt Street, Martin Place and on to Barangaroo, where they will be removed from deep underground.

The TBMs are about 150m long — longer than two Airbus A380s — and specially designed for Sydney’s geology to cut through hard sandstone.

The five TBMs will excavate 5.9MT of rock — enough to fill about 940 Olympic swimming pools.

This is the first time in Australian history that five TBMs have worked on a transport infrastructure project.

“These machines are underground factories, mechanical worms designed to dig and line the tunnels as they go so that Sydney Metro can be delivered as quickly as possible,” Mr Constance said.

“Nancy is specially designed to cut through our city’s unique sandstone and shale, and will tunnel an average of 120m a week.”

Two TBMs will also dig 6.2km from Chatswood to the edge of Sydney Harbour. A fifth machine has been specially designed to deliver the twin tunnels under Sydney Harbour.

Syndey Metro opens in the city’s north-west in the second quarter of next year—with 13 metro stations, 4000 commuter car parking spaces and 36km of new metro rail.

Metro rail is being extended into the Sydney CBD and beyond to Bankstown—in 2024, Sydney will have 31 metro stations and a 66km metro railway.

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