Tunnel boring machines (TBMs) Catherine, Eileen and Peggy have completed their journeys as of 12 June, bringing the Sydney Metro connection to the Western Sydney Airport one big step closer.  

This project is set to connect the Western Sydney Airport and Aerotropolis at Bradfield to the wider Sydney rail network at St Marys. 

With boring near complete, the project will enter its next stage – the construction of six world-class stations along the 23km track. 

The Sydney Metro to Western Sydney Airport project is jointly funded by the Federal and New South Wales Governments, and is set to open in late 2026 with the start of airport operations.   

The project is expected to create more than 14,000 jobs in total during construction. As of April 2024, the project has created 10,348 jobs – including 250 apprenticeships. 

To date, three of the boring machines have completed their work, with the final 230m leg to St Marys expected to be completed in a few weeks. 

Reaching this pivotal point in the construction program comes after 13 months of tunnelling from the four giant TBMs and a team of 553 tunnellers, TBM operators and support personnel. 

The TBMs have worked around the clock up to seven days a week to excavate more than 1.4 million tonnes of material (enough to fill 226 Olympic pools) and install 68,360 concrete segments that now line the new tunnel walls. 

The project’s focus is now on the delivery of the six metro stations – St Marys, Orchard Hills, Luddenham, Airport Business Park, Airport Terminal and Bradfield. 

Station construction is underway at St Marys, while the Orchard Hills, Luddenham and Bradfield station sites are being prepared for construction to begin in the coming months. 

Work inside the tunnels will continue and will involve completing the construction of 39 cross passages and preparing for track laying. 

Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, said that this project is a fantastic example of how the government is delivering a future made in Australia in Western Sydney. 

“Sydney Metro and the new Western Sydney airport will transform Western Sydney into a global economic hub,” Mr Albanese said.  

“Today’s major milestone is tribute to the great work of the more than 10,000 people that are working on this project. 

“This project demonstrates how government leadership and co-investment with industry can deliver world class infrastructure assets resulting in significant value for future generations.” 

New South Wales Premier, Chris Minns, said that these historic breakthroughs of the new Metro tunnels at Western Sydney Airport are just another way the New South Wales Government is building the essential infrastructure Western Sydney needs. 

“We are committed to building better communities in Western Sydney, and public transport projects like this that are creating jobs and cutting travel times are a critical part of our plan,” Mr Minns said.  

Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Catherine King, said that she is delighted to see the wonderfully named Catherine and her TBM friends bringing closer a world-class transport option to the new Western Sydney International Airport and major job hubs, including the new Aerotropolis. 

“This milestone is a critical step towards connecting the suburbs that will grow around this brand-new metro line, giving Western Sydney the opportunity to attract more jobs and housing opportunities,” Ms King said.  

“This city-shaping metro line will service travellers and airport workers with major population centres like Penrith, Parramatta and the Sydney CBD via St Marys.” 

New South Wales Deputy Premier and Minister for Western Sydney, Prue Car, said that it is great to see these four TBMs have completed their tunnelling journeys under Western Sydney. 

“The New South Wales Government, together with the Federal Government, is committed to delivering the vital, major infrastructure needed to deliver for our growing Western Sydney community,” Ms Car said.  

New South Wales Minister for Transport, Jo Haylen, said that this is a job well done for three of the four mega machines and a huge achievement for everybody involved. 

“More than 550 workers spent many months deep below ground and across the site to drive these borers across the finish line,” Ms Haylen said.  

“It’s a phenomenal milestone for Sydney’s second airport rail link. 

“While tunnelling is almost finished on the Western Sydney Airport line for now, we are planning the public transport links of the future. 

“Our business cases are underway to plan more future rail links in Western Sydney as these communities continue to grow.” 

Image: Stor24/shutterstock.com 

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