Sydney’s 23km long North West Rail Link today passed a major milestone with the start of geotechnical drilling work on the NSW Government’s priority rail infrastructure project. The work will help engineers determine the exact underground conditions for the construction of the link’s 15km long twin tube underground section, which will be Australia’s longest rail tunnels.
The 2011-12 Budget, announced yesterday, allocated $314M to the North West Rail Link project this year, with a provisional allocation of $2.5bn over four years.
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NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell, Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian and Treasurer Mike Baird inspected drilling work at Old Northern Rd in Castle Hill, above what will be the new Castle Hill station.
Ms Berejiklian said the start of geotechnical drilling along the 23km route was a significant milestone. “This is an important part of the design work currently underway for the project and will help produce a very detailed picture of what the tunnelling contractors will encounter as they build our nation’s longest rail tunnels,” Ms Berejiklian said.
At least 150 boreholes with a diameter of up to 15cm will be drilled at various locations along the proposed alignment between Rouse Hill and Epping. The boreholes will be drilled to depths of up to 75m below ground and will be used to confirm underground geological profiles, rock types and site conditions. A core sample will be taken from each hole to provide a snapshot of the underground rock conditions in the area with details about rock type, geological fault areas and other underground characteristics. This will be important in helping finalise the civil design for the stations and the 15.5km of tunnel between Epping and Kellyville, and also for the remainder of the route. At the completion of the test work, sites will be restored to their original condition by contractors Coffey Geotechnics, which was last month appointed to do the drilling work through an open tender process.
Mr Baird said the start of drilling showed the NSW Government’s commitment to moving forward with construction of the North West Rail Link. “This is an important next step which takes us closer towards construction on this vital rail infrastructure project for the North West. It’s clear to see that the North West Rail Link is a top priority for the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government.
“This is just one of the projects in this year’s record infrastructure budget totalling $62.6bn over the next four years.
“This is a budget which builds for the future and secures the State’s economy,” Mr Baird said.
Ms Berejiklian said the community would be kept fully informed of the drilling timetable. “The project team will be working closely with the community and, where possible, the work is being carried out on public property and during normal construction hours,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“The community feedback about the North West Rail Link has been overwhelmingly positive, from locals visiting the new community information centre to having their say at community forums.”