Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) Vida has started digging the 2.8-kilometre inbound tunnel for the West Gate Tunnel Project in Melbourne.
Vida’s journey will take 12 months, with the tunnel meeting up with the West Gate Freeway just west of Williamstown Road.
TBM Bella also started work on the four-kilometre outbound tunnel early last month.
Bella and Vida are the largest TBMs in the Southern Hemisphere – each measuring 15.6m in diameter and 90m long and weighing 4000 tonnes each, which is about the same as 20 Boeing 747 airplanes.
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The two TBMs will dig an average of nine metres per day and are equipped with an advanced computerised navigation system. They have been specifically chosen for their ability to work deep underground with almost no disturbance above ground for traffic, businesses and residents.
A highly trained specialist crew will pilot the TBMs around the clock while the twin tunnels are being built.
As the TBMs bore through the earth, they progressively install the segments which form the massive concrete rings of the structural lining of the tunnel.
Multiple crews of workers will follow the TBMs, building the road surface and installing electrics, ventilation and safety systems.
The West Gate Tunnel Project is expected to be complete by late 2025.