Students name final mega-boring machine for Western Sydney Airport Metro after Dr Marlene Kanga AO


The fourth and final name of the tunnel boring machine (TBM) for the Sydney Metro – Western Sydney Airport project has been unveiled during a special launch ceremony at the Orchard Hills metro station site.

On hand to witness the launch were representatives from six local primary schools who participated in a Sydney Metro competition to name the machine. The students were the first to be introduced to TBM Marlene, the winning name submitted by Claremont Meadows Public School.

The machine is named in honour of Dr Marlene Kanga AO, recognising her significant contribution as a global leader in engineering and role model to women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

TBM Marlene will tunnel 4.3km, carving out the metro tunnel from Orchard Hills to St Marys alongside TBM Catherine, which is currently about 100m into its journey.

The 900-tonne TBM will tunnel on average 120m per week and is expected to arrive at the St Marys metro station site in mid-2024.

The naming competition was an opportunity for local primary school students to learn more about the new 23km metro line currently under construction from St Marys to the Aerotropolis that will transform travel in their area.

It also provided a chance for students to explore achievements of inspiring Australian women in the community, with all names submitted required to be female – a tunnelling tradition stemming from the 1600s when miners working underground prayed to Saint Barbara for protection.

All six schools that participated in the competition – Claremont Meadows Public School, Our Lady of the Rosary Primary, Kurrambee School, St Marys South Public School, St Marys North Public School and Orchard Hills Public School – were commended for the significant thought and effort they put into their suggested names.

The launch of TBM Marlene means all four TBMs for the mega project are now in the ground, with TBMs Eileen and Peggy 1275m and 386m into excavating the 5.5km of tunnels between the Airport Business Park and the Aerotropolis, respectively.

New metro rail will become the transport spine for Greater Western Sydney, connecting communities and travellers with the new Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport and the growing region.

The Australian and NSW Governments have a shared objective of having Sydney Metro – Western Sydney Airport operational when Western Sydney International Airport opens for passenger services.

More information on the Western Sydney Airport Metro project

About Marlene Kanga AO

Dr Marlene Kanga AO is listed among Australia’s top 10 women engineers and top 100 engineers. A chemical engineer, she was National President of Engineers Australia in 2013 and President of the World Federation of Engineering Organisations in 2017-2019.

Dr Kanga has had an executive career in complex systems safety in the oil and gas and chemical industry. She is now a non-executive director and a board member at Endeavour Energy, Business Events Sydney, Standards Australia and formerly, Sydney Water Corporation and Innovation Australia. She is a director of iOmniscient Pty Ltd which has developed advanced video analytic technologies and Rux Energy Pty Ltd which is commercialising new materials for hydrogen storage.

She is Chair of the global Institution of Chemical Engineers Safety Centre, advancing complex system safety engineering internationally.

Dr Kanga is an Honorary Fellow of Engineers Australia, an Honorary Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers (UK), a Foundation Fellow of the International Science Council, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

She was the Engineers Australia 2018 Professional Engineer of the Year, received the Chemeca Medal in 2019 for contributions to chemical engineering and the Ada Lovelace Medal as an outstanding women engineer, in 2023. She is an Officer of the Order of Australia “for distinguished service to engineering, as a global leader and role model to women.”

Deputy Premier Prue Car said:

“The students have done a great job naming this tunnelling machine after such an inspiring leader in STEM.

“The name Marlene was suggested by Claremont Meadows Public School, and it is fitting that students from nearby schools were here at today’s launch as this project will serve many generations to come.

“It has been a joy to have these local school children attend the launch and send the fourth and final TBM for this transformational project off in style.

“The entries from local schools demonstrated an awareness of the contributions and successes of many outstanding women, and I’m so pleased to see Dr Marlene Kanga AO recognised in this way.

“The naming of TBM Marlene is a tremendous legacy for its namesake, and I look forward to tracking the machine’s progress as the tunnel advances from Orchard Hills to St Marys.”

Minister for Transport Jo Haylen said:

“Major construction is well underway on the Western Sydney Airport Metro, with the fourth and final tunnel boring machine launching its journey to build Sydney’s newest rail tunnels.

“It is fantastic to see local schools get involved and learn more about this vital transport link that will revolutionise how people will move in the area putting Western Sydney on the doorstep of the rest of the world.”

/Public Release. View in full here.