Queensland’s Cross River Rail project has commenced tunnelling at the site of one of Brisbane’s new train stations.

Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, said boosting employment and busting congestion were the twin focus as the first road header starts tunnelling at the project’s Roma Street site, where a large station cavern is also being excavated as part of Brisbane’s new underground line.

“Above ground demolition has also been underway for several months at the site of the new station – but today is a huge milestone for this project as we start tunnelling for the first time,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“Cross River Rail will create more than 7,000 local jobs.

“This is just the beginning of the underground works, with 5.9km of twin tunnels and four underground stations to be excavated in total.

“That means more jobs and more economic stability at a vital time for Queensland.”

Queensland Treasurer, and Minister for Planning and Infrastructure, Cameron Dick, said construction was one of a number of traditional industries that had helped insulate Queensland from even greater impacts caused by COVID-19.

“So many Queensland families and businesses have been hit hard by something they could not have imagined just a few months ago,” Mr Dick said.

“But some of Queensland’s traditional strengths like mining, agriculture and construction have weathered the storm better than other areas.

“As our economy reopens, we will be supporting jobs in these sectors, as well as jobs in new and emerging industries.”

State Development Minister, Kate Jones, said the start of tunnelling signified the beginning of a new phase of the project.

“Multi-billion-dollar infrastructure projects like Cross River Rail are vital to Queensland’s economic recovery following COVID-19,” Ms Jones said.

“Coronavirus has had a huge impact on our economy. But we won’t let it derail Queensland’s largest infrastructure project.”

The Road Header at Roma St has been assembled at the bottom of an 18-metre-deep shaft, and will excavate approximately 50 tonnes of rock and soil per hour.

The tunnelling site is covered by an enormous ‘acoustic shed’ designed to minimise noise and contain dust, while demolition of the Hotel Jen building immediately adjacent is also progressing with floors being removed at a rate of one per week.

Demolition will then move on to one of Brisbane’s least loved buildings, the Brisbane Transit Centre.

“We’re not only building a new train station and digging tunnels, Cross River Rail will also generate billions of dollars of new private sector investment in the city as we redesign the precinct around the new station,” Ms Jones said.

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