SHE was tested for her tunnel-boring skills in China before setting off for Bella Vista to begin working on the $8.3 billion North West Rail Link.
Now ‘‘Elizabeth’’ — the name of the rail link’s anthropomorphic tunnel-boring machine — sits 10 metres underground at the Bella Vista station site off Celebration Drive where she is being fussed over by 71 workers, who will be kept busy over coming weeks, bolting, welding and fastening thousands of smaller components of her 120-metre body back together again.
It took 45 truckloads to move her into the site, said project director Rodd Staples, from Transport for NSW.
Mr Staples said ‘‘she’’ has a ‘‘cutter head’’ that weighs 105 tonnes, made up of 40 tungsten steel cutters, weighing 250kg each, that will need to get replaced every three weeks.
These cutters will split the rock as Elizabeth moves forward with her hydraulic arms, digging about 120 metres of tunnel a week with guidance from workers inside the machine, which will have a lunchroom and toilet facilities on board.
‘‘There will be three eight-hour shifts of 15 people working five days a week on the tunnel"— Rodd Staples
‘‘There will be three eight-hour shifts of 15 people working five days a week on the tunnel,’’ Mr Staples said.
‘‘People at the front will control the direction [of the machine], another group will make sure the spoil is going out properly, and another will organise the concrete segments [that line the tunnel] into place.
‘‘A car with two steering wheels will be used to bring people in and out of the tunnel.’’
All of the concrete segments will be manufactured at the precast facility at Bella Vista station.
But before Elizabeth can start digging, she will have to be connected to tunnelling support services above ground, including power, ventilation, compressed air, a grout plant, hydraulic cooling towers, water pumps, a water treatment plant and spoil conveyors.
Eight new railway stations are proposed as part of the North West Rail Link at: Cherrybrook, Castle Hill, Showground, Norwest, Bella Vista, Kellyville, Rouse Hill and Cudgegong Road.
TOUR MORE STATIONS: Click here for previous coverage and to take a tour of the Castle Hill and Showoground stations.
Production of the concrete segments for the North West Rail Link's skytrain (pictured below) will start late this year at a factory in Mulgrave, near Windsor.
The 4-kilometre elevated skytrain will run between the future Bella Vista and Rouse Hill train stations.
READ MORE: Click here to read more about the skytrain.