Historic double breakthrough for Sydney Metro West


Two tunnel boring machines (TBMs) have broken through solid rock to arrive at the Five Dock Metro Station site, putting Sydney Metro West on the map as the first project in the southern hemisphere to achieve a double TBM breakthrough. 

This breakthrough marks an important milestone in the Minns Government’s plan to build an enhanced Sydney Metro West project that also helps drive housing supply.

These are the first two TBM breakthroughs for the project as work powers ahead to build twin 24km metro tunnels that will transform how people live in and move across Sydney’s west.

TBM Daphne broke through first, followed closely by TBM Beatrice, after building the 4.3km section of metro tunnel from The Bays to Five Dock for around 7 months.

To date, the huge machines have excavated a total of 437,463 tonnes of material each. Combined, this is enough to fill 135 Olympic swimming pools.

This once-in-a-century infrastructure investment will also double rail capacity between Greater Parramatta and the Sydney CBD, making it easier and faster to travel around western Sydney; link new communities to rail services and support employment growth and housing supply.  

The NSW Government is also reaffirming its commitment to building more housing in the right places, where people want to live – to improve affordability, reduce building and infrastructure costs and create thriving communities.

This includes a proposal, which was brought to the NSW Government by the ATC, centering around the potential to build more than 25,000 new homes on the Rosehill Racecourse site. This would allow the government to explore the feasibility of a new Metro West Station at Rosehill.

NSW Premier Chris Minns said:

“This breakthrough at Five Dock is an important milestone as we progress towards the completion of this project and the creation of thousands of new homes.”

“We’re building this major public transport project at the same time as we’re turbocharging the creation of new housing in our state. We know more supply is the key to making housing more affordable.”

“This project won’t just change the way people move around our city; it will now also provide the well-located homes for future generations to live in.”

Transport Minister Jo Haylen said:

“Now this is truly ground-breaking – never before has a project in the southern hemisphere achieved what we are seeing right here with this double breakthrough.”

“Record-breaking milestones like this offer a snapshot at the sheer scale and ambitious nature of Sydney Metro West, that will completely transform this great city.”

“Sydney Metro West will transform travel in Sydney’s west including right here in Five Dock, a location that will welcome its very first railway connection to put both the Sydney CBD and Western Sydney at its doorstep.”

TBM Beatrice and Daphne fast facts: 

  • TBMs are double-shield, hard rock TBMs specifically designed to excavate through the sandstone and shale ground conditions.  
  • A team of 15 workers per shift operate the TBM as it excavates an average of 200m per week. 
  • The TBMs are 165m long (more than the length of 2x A380’s which are approximately 73m). 
  • TBMs are built using refurbished cutterheads, front shields and gripper shields from TBMs used on the Sydney Metro City & Southwest project. 
  • Each TBM is approximately 7m in diameter. 
  • 34x disc cutters per cutterhead (disc cutters are approx. 48cm in diameter). 
  • Heaviest pieces of the TBM are the front shield and gripper shield both approx. 280 tonnes each, the cutterhead is approximately 102 tonnes.
  • The two 1,300-tonne machines will spend the next few weeks traversing to the western end of the station box cavern.
  • During this time, the machines will undergo maintenance before being relaunched to continue their journey to Sydney Olympic Park.
  • The Five Dock station box cavern was excavated with about 286,047 tonnes of material removed to create the box-like structure that is 22m wide and 15m deep. 
  • Next stop for the TBMs is the Burwood North Metro Station site about two km away, where they are due to arrive in early 2024. 
  • TBMs Beatrice and Daphne are 2 of 6 TBMs building the tunnels for the new Sydney Metro West line connecting Greater Parramatta to the Sydney CBD.  
  • A total of 30,732 precast concrete segments have been installed by both TBMs to line the new 7m wide tunnels. 
  • Two TBMs are currently tunnelling between Sydney Olympic Park and Westmead, while the final fifth and sixth TBMs will launch in 2024, starting at The Bays, moving under harbour to Pyrmont and onto Hunter Street.

/Public Release. View in full here.