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Cimic – Optimal Tunnelling Performance is a Blend of Youth and Experience

Keeping the tunnel boring machines (TBMs) in optimal condition is an essential part of any tunnelling project.


TBMs require daily maintenance by CPB Contractors Plant Managers and their teams, as their performance can have a significant impact on project success.

Martin Bell, CPB Contractors Plant Manager, is part of Cimic's team delivering the Tunnel and Station Excavation Works (TSE) on the Sydney Metro City & Southwest project.

His team is responsible for the procurement, assembly and maintenance of all equipment owned by the John Holland CPB Ghella joint venture, including the project’s thirteen roadheaders and five TBMs. The TBMs delivered 31 kilometres of fully lined tunnels in 17 months. Once the machines have completed their work, the plant team also manages the disassembly, redeployment or sale of the equipment.

Martin said: “More than 65% of the supervisors on my team were handpicked from the workforce. We really benefit from a blend of youth and experience on my team.”

The latter includes the more veteran professionals like himself; the former bring new ways of thinking that provide a new dimension to delivering projects.

“Leveraging our differences in experience and capabilities, we are one project team, collaborating in a complex urban environment, to deliver a significant infrastructure project that will positively impact the community,” said Martin.

TBM speed statistics: 

  • Fastest recorded TBM speed: 90 – 100mm per minute.
  • Furthest distance dug in 24 hours: 85.2m by TBM Mum Shirl
  • Longest distance dug in a five-day week: 326.9m by TBM Mum Shirl

In early March 2020, all tunnelling finished on the Sydney Metro City & Southwest project with completion of Sydney’s newest twin metro railway tunnels. Tunnelling beneath Sydney harbour from Barangaroo to Blues Point, TBM Kathleen dug two 885-metre-long tunnels, which are approximately 40 metres below sea level at their deepest point.

With the tunnels completed, Martin’s team has now redeployed the project’s remaining roadheader onto road transport. Most of his team have dispersed to other projects such as Cross River Rail in Brisbane and the WestConnex M4-M5 Link Rozelle Interchange in Sydney or are working on tenders, building future opportunities.

Source: Cimic

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