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More than 7km of earth in Melbourne’s southeast has been drilled to finetune the route of the Suburban Rail Loop, as three building giants are short-listed for $2.2bn worth of works.
The mega-rail project, which would join Cheltenham to Box Hill via a 26km underground tunnel, is taking shape with precise station entries and locations to be released soon.
This will allow for the $2.2bn of early works to kick off next year, ensuring the massive rail line is closer to reality for the city’s southeast.
The Herald Sun can reveal three construction companies are in the running for that package — CPB Contractors, John Holland and Laing O’Rourke. The short-listing of John Holland and CPB comes despite a separate contract dispute over the $6.7bn West Gate Tunnel project, which has been effectively stalled for more than a year because of contaminated soil.
The SRL contract would be for road modifications, shifting utilities and tram terminus works — all of which should create 800 jobs and pave the way for major boring machines to start work later this decade.
Cheltenham is one of six underground stations to be built as part of stage 1.
As the race to win the $2.2bn early works contract tightens, preconstruction geotechnical testing has ramped up, with 425 bore holes drilled by workers.
Five drilling rigs are in the ground, with a further two of the seven-tonne machines to join them within weeks.
Thousands of groundwater and land surveys have also been done.
Suburban Rail Loop Minister Jacinta Allan said “this early phase of construction will create hundreds of local jobs and make this important project a reality”.
“These drilling and geotechnical works are critical to ensuring construction can start on this city-shaping project in 2022,” she said.
Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Luis Ascui
“Whether it’s removing dangerous level crossings, upgrading suburban roads or getting on with projects such as the Suburban Rail Loop — we’re delivering a massive pipeline of infrastructure supporting thousands of jobs.”
The government is yet to outline the cost of the SRL stage 1 project or how it would pay for the tunnel, but said the release of a business case is pending.
Industry figures have said tunnelling 26km and creating six new stations would cost tens of billions of dollars.
The six underground stations to be built as part of stage 1 are at Cheltenham, Clayton, Monash, Glen Waverley, Burwood and Box Hill.
This article first appeared on www.heraldsun.com.au
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