Queensland’s Cross River Rail project will revolutionise the way people travel in Brisbane.
The 10.2km of railway lines and tunnels will travel underneath the Brisbane River with 4 new underground stations – Boggo Road, Woolloongabba, Albert Street and Roma Street – to be built.
The $5.4billion Cross River Rail project is one of Queensland’s biggest infrastructure projects, creating thousands of jobs, and is a shining example of how the field of advanced manufacturing is helping deliver world-class outcomes.
We spoke with Tai Luong, Area Engineering Manager – Woolloongabba and Tunnels about the project and how it is helping students in Queensland receive valuable on-the-job training.
He said that the skills students pick up on this project will be transferrable to any advanced manufacturing project in the world.
Tell us about the Cross River Rail project.
Cross River Rail is a new 10.2km rail line between Dutton Park and Bowen Hills that includes 5.9km of twin tunnels under the Brisbane River and CBD. The project will unlock a bottleneck at the core of our transport network and transform the way we travel across the whole of South-East Queensland.
Why is it considered a critical public transport infrastructure project for Brisbane – and Queensland?
Cross River Rail is a transformational, city-shaping transport project that will increase the capacity of our rail network, helping to ease congestion and improve train travel for hundreds of thousands of commuters. Journeys will be quicker; stations will be in more convenient locations; and public transport will become a more viable transport option for all.
Does Queensland have a good reputation in regard to advanced manufacturing and engineering technologies?
Queensland has a strong reputation for advanced manufacturing and engineering technologies, which in turn has benefitted the Cross River Rail project. Local manufacturers have been used to produce over 25,000 precast concrete segments to line the project’s twin tunnels.
What makes Queensland a desirable destination for international students? And post-study, what opportunities are there for young engineers?
Not only is Queensland a terrific place to live with all the natural wonders on offer, but working on a project such as Cross River Rail means learning from some of the best engineers in the industry. With several road and transport infrastructure projects in the pipeline over the next few years in Queensland, there will be opportunities for graduate engineers to learn directly from some of Australia’s best engineers.
Are the skills learned in Queensland transferrable to any project around the world?
The skills and experience I gained early in my career on several infrastructure projects in Queensland gave me the opportunity to be seconded to the Channel Tunnel Rail Link project and St Pancras King’s Cross Underground Station Redevelopment project in the United Kingdom. These were incredible world-class infrastructure projects, which allowed me to bring those skills and experiences home to work on Brisbane’s Clem Jones Tunnel, Airport Link Tunnel, Legacy Way Tunnel and Cross River Rail.
What are some of the innovative technologies that are being developed and used on the Cross River Rail project?
We are excavating through very hard rock under Brisbane and need to consider the impacts the underground works have on those living and working around the project. Due to the very high strength of the rock, the project team has needed to use several excavation methods, including drilling, blasting and rock hammering, which can be heard and felt by those nearby.
The project team decided to investigate other innovative methods to reduce the noise and vibration impacts, and used rope saw technology – which is essentially a diamond-tipped cutting chain – to excavate the first of several cross passages between the twin tunnels below ground. This resulted in less noise and vibration than traditional rock hammering excavation. Rope saw excavation will now be considered for future cross-passage excavations.
What is the biggest challenge when you build a new 10.2km rail line, which includes 5.9km of twin tunnels under a river and the city centre?
There are several challenges building a project of this size. The biggest challenge is building the twin tunnels and understanding the geological conditions underneath the tunnel alignment. With more than 200 boreholes drilled along the project alignment, we have modelled the geology as best we can, but like all geological conditions, there may be varying and unpredictable rock strength, which may require additional engineering assessment.
To mitigate that risk, the project is adopting a very methodical and measured approach by reviewing the rock conditions prior to proceeding with any excavation.
What is the relationship between Queensland universities and the engineering industry? Are there many work experience opportunities available for students on the Cross River Rail project?
Queensland universities and the engineering sector partner together to give undergraduates the opportunity to learn and network with professional engineers, designers and academics. Engineers and subject matter experts often present to engineering students, providing real-life experience and technical subject knowledge. It’s interactions like these that gave me my first opportunity as an undergraduate at a leading transport planning company.
Cross River Rail works directly with Queensland universities, giving engineering undergraduates the opportunity to gain the practical experience required prior to graduation.
What are your predictions for the future of advanced manufacturing in Queensland, both from an educational and industry perspective?
Projects such as Cross River Rail play a major role in the advanced manufacturing industry. For example, the project requires a substantial quantity of manufactured steel to reinforce concrete for the new rail lines and rail side masts. The requirement for concrete is endless, with more than 25,000 precast segments to line the twin tunnels, as well as many Super-T bridge girders and bridge deck units to be installed over the project’s stations, bridges and cut and cover structures.
With more road and transport infrastructure projects planned and under construction in Queensland – including Cross River Rail – there will be a need for more graduate and skilled engineers. Due to COVID-19, the industry is looking for innovative manufacturing solutions locally, so there is a lot of opportunity for students in this future-forward industry.