Friday, March 1, 2013

A Boring Diversion

Tunnel Boring Machine
According to this story in the BrisbaneTimes, a plan has been presented by Brisbane tunnelling engineers that could save Cross River Rail (CRR) $500 million (from $4.5m), and result in CRR opening two years earlier than currently planned in 2018. The plan, presented at the Australian Tunnelling Conference in December 2012 (must be a boring conference - sorry, bad pun) looks at utilising one of the 12.5 diameter tunnel boring machines "Annabell", currently being used to dig the Legacy Way toll road. The tunnel boring machine (TBM) would be diverted from it's current course at Normanby, make a sharp turn, and then dig the CRR tunnels through Spring Hill. CRR tunnelling would be complete to Yeerongpilly by 2014. Great idea, just a few problems:

  • The TBM (currently under Paddington) is almost at the point at which it needs to make the sharp turn - decisions would need to be made quickly.
  • Can TBMs even make a sharp enough turn? BrizCommuter would hope that the tunnel engineers have thought of this!
  • It would delay the opening of Legacy Way by up to a year, with resulting financial implications to that project. 
  • CRR is still awaiting Federal Funding. 
  • The design of CRR is based on twin, single track tunnels instead of a single, twin track tunnel as would occur if dug by "Annabell". However, if CRR has not reached detailed design stage, this may not be a major issue...
  • ..., but is the design mature enough to start tunnelling almost straight away? The 12.5 diameter tunnels may require a different vertical alignment than originally planned due to the larger diameter TBM having to avoid other underground structures. 
The unfortunate reality, is that with the multiple layers of government, bureaucracy, and a "half-baked" attitude towards infrastructure projects in Queensland, this potentially good idea is highly unlikely to happen. 


  1. Once again in Brisbane and Queensland, too little, too late. No doubt they would add a toll to the already sky high public transport fares.

  2. The odds of this happening are about zero. As you say BzC, it would require multiple levels of government to work together at short notice.

    And considering that our state governments commitment to public transport is lukewarm at best, the idea of them getting a change of this nature off the ground is buckleys.

    Personally I would prefer to see two single track tunnels than one two track tunnels. But that is neither here nor there compared to construction getting started on a badly needed and necessary piece of infrastructure.

  3. Cross River Rail's TBMs will be called "Newman" and "Springborg", as they slash, carve, and destroy anything in their path.


All comments are reviewed before being published, and it may take a few days for comments to appear. If comments do not add to the conversation, or are just plain stupid, they will not be published.