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Tunnelling centre to train thousands of local workers

A new $16 million Victorian Tunnelling Training Centre will be built at Holmesglen’s Chadstone campus to train and skill local workers in underground construction and tunnelling.

It will include a replica tunnel with a full-height entrance, three multi-purpose engineering workrooms and training facilities including tunnel shaft and concrete lining spray simulators, as well as virtual reality experiences.

The Australian-first tunnelling training centre will train thousands of local workers as part of the Victorian Government’s planned Suburban Rail Loop project. Holmesglen will offer both existing and new courses at the tunnelling centre, including Certificate and Diploma qualifications as well as safety-based training for working underground.

By 2021, it is estimated up to 5,000 students will participate in training courses at the centre each year.

This will support the thousands of apprentices, trainees and cadets who will deliver Victoria’s pipeline of infrastructure projects, completing at least 10 per cent of work hours under the Victorian Government’s Major Projects Skills Guarantee.

The State’s major tunnelling projects are expected to stretch over more than a decade, and this new tunnelling workforce will create local jobs and make Victoria a world-leading tunnelling hub.

Tunnelling on the Metro Tunnel and West Gate Tunnel projects will soon get underway, and by the time they’re finished, work will have started on North East Link, Melbourne Airport Rail Link and the Suburban Rail Loop.

More than 15 gigantic tunnel boring machines (TBMs) will be used to build these vital projects that will deliver more trains to and from the suburbs, connect the regions and ease congestion on the state’s busy roads. Ten of these machines are expected be needed to build the Suburban Rail Loop alone.

To meet demand for this tunnelling bonanza, thousands of local workers will need to be trained in TBM operation and underground construction. The centre, which is modelled on the successful Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy established as part of London’s Crossrail, will open next year.

Separately, Herrenknecht – one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of tunnel boring machines – has announced it will establish a Melbourne office and maintenance facility and begin investigations to recycle these massive pieces of machinery locally, for deployment on new projects in Victoria’s infrastructure pipeline.

Photo credit: © Crossrail Ltd.

All information is correct at the time of printing but subject to change.

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