Tunnelling excellence Down Under Monday, 01 October 2018

In an Australian-first, a tunnelling training centre will open in 2019 in Victoria, which will skill workers in delivering tunnelling projects in Victoria in particular.

The new $16 million Victorian Tunnelling Centre, to be located in Chadstone in Melbourne, will be built at Holmesglen Institute campus and train workers in underground construction and tunnelling. The centre is being established to ensure there are enough skilled workers for Melbourne’s North East Link.

The North East Link will deliver Victoria’s longest road tunnels: three-lane twin tunnels travelling for five kilometres beneath Bulleen Road, residential and environmental areas. The project is expected to create thousands of jobs in construction.

The Victorian Tunnelling Centre is good news for those involved in civil engineering, in particular, as the centre is modelled on the successful Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy (TUCA) in the UK. TUCA was set up in 2011 to provide skilled workers for London’s Crossrail project.

Its Australian counterpart will include a replica tunnel with a full-height entrance, three multi-purpose engineering workrooms and training facilities. There will also be a tunnel shaft and concrete lining spray simulators, along with virtual reality experiences.

With a record number of Australian transport projects in the pipeline expected to use more than 15 tunnel boring machines (TBMs, like the one pictured) combined, an enormous amount of tunnelling is being done in the coming years.

The Victorian Tunnelling Centre plans to offer certificate and diploma qualifications from the as well as safety-based training for working underground. By 2021, it is estimated up to 5000 students will participate in the courses annually.