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One down, one to go: First Cross River Rail tunnel complete

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An important milestone in the life of the $5.4 billion Cross River Rail project was reached on Thursday when an underground tunnel, integral to the project, was completed.

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There was ceremony all round when a 1350 tonne boring machine completed a 3.8km tunnel from Woolloongabba, under the Brisbane River to Albert Street and onto Roma Street, and emerged at the Cross River Rail’s Northern Portal at Herston.

It was the first time in 10 months the tunnel boring machine, known as TBM Else, had seen daylight in 10 months.

Twin tunnels, under the Brisbane CBD, are the centrepiece of the project, which aims to take thousands of cars off the road and unlock the congested inner city rail network.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles was on hand to watch TBM Else punch through to daylight, describing it as a “massive milestone”.

“By unlocking the congested inner city rail network, Cross River Rail will transform how we travel throughout South Eastern Queensland. This tunnel will service new stations being built in more convenient locations, including Brisbane CBD’s first new station in more than a century” Miles said.

He forecast quicker journeys and less congestion on the roads.

Miles said the project was helping drive the State’s economic recovery from the pandemic and was a key to helping the city secure the 2032 Olympic Games.

“With 88 per cent of net interstate migration heading to Queensland in coming years, the next decade is about growth and Games and both will drive public transport demand.”

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said TBM Else, named after engineer Professor Else Shepherd AM, had excavated 155,000 cubic metres of tunnel which is equivalent to 62 olympic swimming pools.

TBM Else will now be taken apart and lifted out of the tunnel.

A second boring machine, the TBM Merle, is also expected to breakthrough at the end of its tunnel in the next few weeks.

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