From the magazine

Tunnelling win for Sydney Rail Link

When the project was undertaken, the state of the tunnelling industry in Australasia was well-developed.

Chatting to Trenchless Australasia in 2014 and looking back at the project, Robbins Field Service Site Manager on the project when it was undertaken, Jeremy Pinkham said “Australia was up to par with most first world countries at the time.

Many countries in Asia at that time used to use primarily European contractors.

However, in the last decade that has changed and more local construction companies are doing the work in Asian countries.

In 2005, being a part of the largest single infrastructure project undertaken by the New South Wales government was not without its associated pressures.”

Mr Pinkham said.

“There was a lot of focus on schedule and safety.

“All eyes were on this project, no short cuts could be taken,” he said.

Project challenges

Speaking on the issues faced by the team, Mr Pinkham said “From design standpoint, Epping to Chatswood was difficult because we poured concrete between the tunnel boring machine (TBM) and bridge.

“We had to come up with a system that would allow the TBM to advance, and the backup to go OVER the wet concrete and be setup by the time the backup was past.

This was done because only rubber tyre vehicles were allowed in the tunnel for crew and material transport, and they needed a concrete roadway.

“From the site perspective, familiarising ourselves with and getting used to the Australian safety regulations was something we also had to devote a lot of time to,” said Mr Pinkham.

However, on the project Mr Pinkham said the machines performed past expectations and it was a new type of setup for conveyors.

Since the project was undertaken, Robbins has grown substantially – in terms of the company’s offerings, it now provides a full range of TBMs including EPB TBMs for soft and mixed ground, and Hybrid TBMs for variable ground conditions.

Technologies changing

In the past decade, Mr Pinkham said the biggest difference he has witnessed in the tunnelling industry has been with computer systems.

“PLC, data logging and guidance systems.

These systems are much more streamlined,” he said.

In the future he predicts a lot more computer aided operation for more aspects of the tunnelling process.

What’s to come?

Talking about what the future holds for Robbins, Mr Pinkham said “We are doing a particularly challenging project with Oz Minerals that has not started up yet, where the TBM will bore an access tunnel for a mine at a 15.4 per cent downward grade.”

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