AUSTRALIA: Victoria’s Suburban Rail Loop Authority has shortlisted three international consortia for tunnelling work on the eastern section of Melbourne’s orbital railproject.


The SRL East package covers 26 km of twin bore tunnels between Cheltenham and Box Hill serving six underground stations.

Trains are expected to begin running by 2035, offering an end-to-end journey time of 22 min.

Preparatory work is already underway in Clayton, and the Environment Effects Statement planning process has now cleared the way for the start of construction.

SRLA expects to award the first tunnelling contracts next year, allowing construction to begin in 2026. The first will cover the section between Cheltenham and Glen Waverley, and the second will cover the Glen Waverley – Box Hill section. Up to 10 tunnel boring machines are expected to be deployed on the project.

Five consortia submitted expressions of interest in the first round of tendering, and SRLA announced on September 7 that three groups have been shortlisted to submit formal proposals for both contracts. These are:

  • CPB Contractors, Ghella and Acciona Construction Australia;
  • John Holland and Gamuda Berhad;
  • Webuild and GS Engineering & Construction Australia.


All three have extensive experience of urban rail tunnelling projects, working on schemes such as Brisbane’s Cross River Rail, Melbourne’s Metro Tunnel, the Sydney Metro, København’s Cityringen and the Broadway Millennium Subway extension in Vancouver.

According to SRLA CEO Frankie Carroll, the strong interest from international firms represents ‘a massive vote of confidence in the project’. Construction of SRL East is expected to create up to 8 000 jobs, with at least 10% of all hours to be worked by apprentices and trainees. Contractors will be required to deliver at least 92% local content (excluding the TBMs).