Pre-construction works are gathering pace for Melbourne’s Suburban Rail Loop, and three construction companies are vying to deliver the first phase of construction.

CPB Contractors, John Holland and Laing O’Rourke are lining up to deliver the first phase of construction on the mega project. 

Respondents will need to demonstrate they can deliver these works, put local jobs first, and commit to other key programs including the Major Projects Skills Guarantee, Recycled First Policy and the Social Procurement Framework. The contract will be awarded by the end of 2021 with construction starting in Melbourne’s south east in 2022.

7km of ground – the equivalent of 15 laps around the MCG – has already been drilled by Suburban Rail Loop workers.   

More than 425 boreholes and geotechnical investigations have been drilled between Cheltenham and Box Hill, where twin 26km underground tunnels will be built during Stage One. Five drilling rigs are currently in the ground, with another two rigs being brought on in coming weeks – a new benchmark for the project.  

Hundreds of other land and groundwater surveys have been conducted, with around 10,000 laboratory tests completed. The exploratory work underway to plan the twin tunnel alignment also includes laser and CCTV technology, which is helping workers to remotely inspect the South East Trunk Sewer. 

Thousands of lasers are fired in the space, bouncing off solid surfaces to create a ‘point cloud’ to map the area with pinpoint accuracy – ideal for inspecting tight, hard to reach places.  

The work is helping shape the six underground stations to be built as part of Stage One – at Cheltenham, Clayton, Monash, Glen Waverley, Burwood and Box Hill. 

Further announcements will be made soon, with finishing touches being made on the development of the precise station locations, entrances and design elements. 

The huge package of works will see roads modified, utilities relocated and protected, ground improvement trials, tram terminus works and sites prepared across Melbourne’s south east to make way for massive tunnel boring machines (TBMs) that will tunnel the 26km rail corridor from Cheltenham to Box Hill.

The start of construction in 2022 will create up to 800 early direct jobs, overall the project will create 20,000 jobs.

The Victorian Budget 2020/21 provided $2.2 billion to kickstart this procurement process, buy the land required for the TBM launches and prepare for construction of the Stage One rail line and six new underground stations. 

Victorian Minister for Suburban Rail Loop, Jacinta Allan, said, “We said we’d get on and deliver Stage One of Suburban Rail Loop and we’re not wasting a second – this early phase of construction will create hundreds of local jobs and make this important project a reality.

“These new underground stations will deliver fast and convenient journeys – confirming the station locations and entrances for Stage One brings us a step closer to starting work on this transformational project.

“Whether it’s removing dangerous level crossings, upgrading suburban roads or getting on with projects such as the Suburban Rail Loop – we’re delivering a massive pipeline of infrastructure supporting thousands of jobs.”

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