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All Around #12

Building up down under

Pioneering infrastructures are booming in Australia and New Zealand. Ambitious transport, supply and disposal projects are already being made a reality. Many new projects are in the planning pipeline. Learn more about innovative traffic and utility tunnelling in Oceania.

Update for Sydney Metro

Five for Sydney

Sydney is the front runner in metro mobility in Australia. Facts are being created very quickly and with a high emphasis on safety. With five Herrenknecht tunnel boring machines, experienced const-ruction consortiums are delivering one breakthrough after another: 31 kilometers of new metro tunnels within 17 months.

35 years of expertise

A shared history of breakthroughs

Herrenknecht tunnelling technology gained a foothold on the 5th continent in 1986. Contractors are using Herrenknecht technology in over 100 projects. 86 project breakthroughs have already taken place. Newly built infrastructure: over 260 kilometers of new tunnels, pipelines and pipeline networks.

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At a glance

All around down under

Current tunnelling milestones

Perth Forrestfield-Airport Link

„An important milestone for Western Australia's infrastructure“

The Forrestfield-Airport Link makes a valuable contribution to expanding the infrastructure in Perth. For the new metro tunnel, Herrenknecht supplied two Variable-Density TBMs, which are designed to handle complex and changeable geology.

In April 2020, the second and final breakthrough for the Forrestfield-Airport Link in Perth took place.

"The precision engineering it has taken for this machine to tunnel eight kilometers, through varying and sometimes challenging soil types, to break through in exactly the right spot, is truly remarkable.” With these words, Western Australian Transport Minister Rita Saffioti expressed her admiration for an outstanding project achievement. She was speaking in February 2020 on the occasion of the first TBM breakthrough in Perth for the Forrestfield-Airport Link.

The new subway with its two parallel tubes will connect the eastern parts of the city and the international airport to the city center. With three new stations (Redcliffe, Airport Central, Forrestfield) and the connection to the Midland Line near the Bayswater station, the Forrestfield-Airport Link will significantly increase the capacity of local public transport in the Western Australian city. The journey to the city center will take only 20 minutes by subway instead of 45 minutes by car.

Herrenknecht assembled two Variable Density TBMs (Ø 7,050mm) at its facility in Guangzhou, China, for Perth. In July and October 2017, the two specialists for tunnelling in complex and changeable ground began their work. On the journey from east to west, the two machines passed under both Perth airport in full operation and the Swan River, here up to 26 meters below the river bed.

In April 2020, on the occasion of the second and final breakthrough, Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan paid tribute to the achievement of miners and machines: “The completion of the tunnelling marks an important milestone for Western Australia's infrastructure.”

Carapateena Mine

Modern Mining

Raise Boring Rigs from Herrenknecht demonstrate their strength building ventilation shafts for a huge mine in Australia.

The two RBR were employed at Carapateena mine for the construction of four ventilation shafts from 100 meters up to more than 400 meters. 

Carapateena is considered one of the largest copper deposits in Australia. Considerable amounts of gold are also thought to be located here. A gigantic underground mine is being built around 160 kilometers north of Port Augusta in South Australia. The infrastructure requirements for developing the mine and extracting the mineral resources include a series of shafts for the ventilation of galleries and drifts.

Herrenknecht supplied two powerful RBR400VF and RBR600VF Raise Boring Rigs for the construction of four ventilation shafts for the Carapateena Mine. Thanks to their compact design, the RBRs offer high flexibility, even under space constraints. They have proven their worth with their modular design and efficient center-free drive.

To begin with, the rig is installed above a starting point for the shaft using a transport system. The Raise Boring Rig then sinks the pilot drill – depending on the drilling depth, more drill rods are gradually installed until the target in an existing heading is reached.

Subsequently, the pilot drill bit is removed and the reamer attached to the drill string. Once assembled, the rig pulls the reamer upward on the drill string. The rotation of the rods is transferred to the cutterhead, thus excavating the rock. The muck falls down and can be easily removed. In this way, from bottom to top, the entire shaft is expanded to the diameter of the reamer.

With the two RBRs from Herrenknecht, four ventilation shafts with depths of 100 to more than 400 meters were created for the Carapateena Mine. After the pilot holes had been sunk, the reamers successfully extended the boreholes to 5 or 5.5 meters.

Further information about RBR technology:
> Raise Boring Rig (RBR) by Herrenknecht

Army Bay Wastewater Treatment Plant Outfall Replacement

Premiere and world record with Direct Pipe

The innovative Direct Pipe® technology advances sewage projects in Auckland – with speedy and record-breaking drive lengths.

With Direct Pipe®, pipeline installation takes place in a single step and, thus, reduces the environmental impact.

The Army Bay Wastewater Treatment Plant Outfall Replacement project, on the Hibiscus Coast near Auckland, is creating a new sea outfall with a total length of 2.9 kilometers. As a replacement for the existing obsolete pipe, the pipeline connects the pump station with the discharge point – about one kilometer off the coast – and increases the pipeline capacity of the wastewater treatment plant fourfold.

For this modernization measure, Herrenknecht’s innovative Direct Pipe® technology was used. With a drive of 1,930 meters, the crew set a distance world record with this method – the first time the method was used in New Zealand. The previous longest pipe string installed with Direct Pipe® was 1,496.48 meters long.

A special focus of the project was on environmental protection: neither the surrounding recreational and fishing area nor the local flora and fauna were to be affected. The Direct Pipe® method is ideal for such sensitive installations. Pipeline installation takes place in a single step. In this way, the environmental impact is kept low and the landscape remains largely intact. In Herrenknecht’s patented method, an AVN machine excavates a tunnel while the pipe string attached to the TBM is simultaneously inserted during the tunnelling process. The required thrust force is provided by the Pipe Thruster, two of which were used in New Zealand.

Just under four months after launch, the successful breakthrough of the microtunnelling machine “Blanche” was reported in New Zealand’s Whangaparaoa. After reaching the target location on the seabed, the AVN machine was recovered from the sea and towed back to land.

For the construction of the Snells Algies Outfall Pipeline the same Direct Pipe® system tackles the next record-breaking mission.

Success story, part 2

In 2019, the utility tunnelling specialists rely on the same Direct Pipe® system only a couple of kilometers to the north close to Mahurangi. For the underground installation of the Snells Algies Outfall Pipeline another record-breaking tunnel drive is tackled. Watercare Services, the Auckland region’s water and sewage company, has commissioned a new and more efficient sewage tunnel for the communities on the Mahurangi peninsula.


  • Bulimba Creek

Bulimba Creek Trunk Sewer Upgrade

Brisbane bores better

The mechanized tunnelling of the sewage collector reduced the burden on the residents and is more cost-effective.

Longer drives and a straightend route – the Herrenknecht AVN Machine supports budgetary reliability and less construction impact on the residents.

One of the central and at the same time most demanding tasks of municipal and regional administrations is reliable wastewater disposal. Growing populations in metropolitan areas make it necessary to repeatedly expand the pipeline networks. Responsible administrations plan such measures with an eye to the needs of residents along the route - without overstretching budgetary planning. Especially in densely populated urban areas, trenchless mechanized tunnelling of wastewater infrastructures solves this problem.

With a total length of 62 kilometers, the Bulimba Creek Trunk Sewer provides wastewater collection for around 160,000 people living southeast of the Central Business District of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. In the second phase of expansion (2011 and 2013), three Herrenknecht AVN tunnel boring machines with different diameters between 975 and 1,505 millimeters were used for construction. More than 4 kilometers of tunnel were excavated using the pipe-jacking method. To address further population growth, Urban Utilities commissioned Phase 2 of the Bulimba Creek Trunk Sewer expansion. Phase 2 includes a total of 3.95 kilometers of pipe jacked sewer. The performance of a modern Herrenknecht AVN 1500 machine enabled the route to be divided into five tunneling sections with lengths between 550 and 850 meters and required six shafts ranging from 6 meters deep to 47 meters deep in an urban environment. Planning the route using the AVN machine (Ø 1,860mm) also made it possible to take a more direct route, thus saving 2 kilometers of total length than the existing trunk sewer and reducing the project cost. Until the final breakthrough in October 2018, the construction teams successfully mastered challenging, changing geological conditions and high groundwater pressure.

Brisbane xl

  • XL Road Tunnels

Brisbane xl road tunnels

Tunnels instead of congestion

For a total of more than 21 kilometers of XL-sized road tunnels, the contractors relied on tunnelling machines, additional equipment and services from Herrenknecht.

Above: "TransApex" is considered the largest urban road project in Australia. Among other infrastructure projects, the three XL road tunnels are designed to relieve the urban area of through traffic.

Below: The miners proudly celebrate their rapid advance rates for the Legacy Way: they built up to 246 meters of new tunnel per week.

Brisbane, capital of the northeast Australian state of Queensland, is one of the continent’s growth regions. With 2.4 million inhabitants, it is the third largest city in Australia. During his term as Mayor of Brisbane, the later Premier of Queensland Campbell Newman initiated the “TransApex” transport plan so that transport infrastructure would keep up with population and economic growth. The centerpiece is a predominantly underground motorway network, primarily designed to reduce through traffic above ground and provide a fast connection to the airport to the north.

With two Double Shield TBMs (Ø 12.34 meters) from Herrenknecht, the tunnel builders on the “Legacy Way” (Northern Link) in Brisbane progressed at record speed: they installed up to 123 segment rings per week (equivalent to 246 meters), making them world leaders in the diameter range over twelve meters. The tunnel sprinters “Annabell” and “Joyce” achieved breakthrough in April and June 2013 respectively, after only six and nine months of tunnelling. In this short period of time they excavated nearly 4.3 kilometers of tunnel.

Herrenknecht machines had already successfully completed two other sections of the major project in the years prior to that. The twin-tube road tunnel for the “Airport Link” was excavated with two EPB Shields (Ø 12.45 meters) and the “Clem Jones Tunnel” under the Brisbane River with two Double Shield TBMs (Ø 12.34 meters). The two high-tech giants from the Clem Jones project were reused for the Legacy Way project.

For the large-scale projects in Brisbane, the Herrenknecht Group also supplied belt conveyor systems for muck removal (H+E), navigation systems for the TBMs (VMT), formwork systems for segment production (Herrenknecht Formwork) and Multi-Service Vehicles for material transport in the tunnel (Techni-Métal Systèmes).


Additional information

Brisbane xl


Army bay

Lake torrens


All set to go

Mission Future

Australia and New Zealand are launching bold and groundbreaking infrastructure programs for the coming decades. They are expected to trigger far-reaching impulses for economic and social prosperity. A report on hands-on shaping of the future.

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Portrait Herrenknecht Australia

Passionate tunnel engineer between continents and time zones

Charles Howarth is Managing Director of Herrenknecht Australia and the key contact for customers and their underground missions. A short story about the development of the Herrenknecht subsidiary in Australia.

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Ambitious project plans down under?

We’re ready to start!

Charles Howarth

Managing Director Herrenknecht (Australia) Pty. Ltd.

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Alexander Mallaney

Managing Director Herrenknecht (Asia) Ltd.

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Dirk Schrader

General Manager Herrenknecht Asia Headquarters Pte. Ltd.

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