Victorians To Name Massive Tunnel Boring Machines

Victorians will play an important part in the Andrews Labor Government’s Metro Tunnel and West Gate Tunnel projects, naming the six gigantic tunnel boring machines (TBMs) that will begin digging beneath Melbourne from early next year.

Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan and Minister for Roads Luke Donnellan today launched a state-wide competition inviting Victorians to name the TBMs that will construct the West Gate Tunnel and the Metro Tunnel.

Six winners will be chosen and invited onto a Metro Tunnel or West Gate Tunnel worksite next year to watch as the TBM they named is assembled.

Tunnelling tradition dictates a TBM cannot start work until it has been given a female name, a sign of good luck for the project ahead – so the competition will seek suggestions that recognise inspiring or ground-breaking women, with a preference for Victorians.

The tradition of naming TBMs after women can be traced back to the 1500s when miners and military engineers working with explosives, for underground excavation, prayed to Saint Barbara for protection.

Machines used on other international tunnelling projects have been named after monarchs, Olympians, Paralympians, mayors, and fictional characters such as Alice in Wonderland.

The West Gate Tunnel TBMs will be the biggest ever used in the Southern Hemisphere – almost as long as three E-class trams and as tall as the top of the dome at Flinders Street Station.

The Metro Tunnel TBMs will be 100 metres long, weighing up to 1,000 tonnes and have a diameter of 7.2 metres.

Collectively, the six TBMs will create around 25 kilometres of tunnel, operating like moving factories as they excavate up to 40 metres beneath Melbourne, boring through rock and soil, transporting the material to the surface for disposal and progressively installing a concrete lining behind them to seal the tunnel.

All entries to the TBM naming competition can be submitted at www.bigbuild.vic.gov.au, with the competition to close on 7 October.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan

“This competition gives the public a unique opportunity to learn more about the monumental engineering feat we are undertaking to build the massive public transport and road projects Victoria desperately needs.”

“Just like the tunnel boring machines will break through ground to create city changing infrastructure, we’re looking for groundbreaking women that changed our state.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Roads Luke Donnellan

“These machines are massive – if you had to park them all in one place you’d need a space bigger than the playing surface at the MCG.”

“The six TBMs that will be delivered next year are vital to getting on with the job and making sure we deliver the West Gate Tunnel and the Metro Tunnel as quickly as possible.”