On the 4th of December this year the Australian Tunnelling Society celebrated, St Barbara’s Day, World Tunnel Day and the 6th ITA Awards. The awards were held as a digital event, with delegates able to review final submissions across the eight categories shown below.

Two entries were submitted from Australia as part of the 6th edition of the awards:

  • JHCPBG TSE Sydney Metro City & Southwest – Major Project of the Year
  • Josh Barry – Young Tunneller of the Year

Both the John Holland/CPB/Ghella JV and Josh took home the win in their respective categories beating a number of outstanding applicants in the process. Congratulations to the JHCPBG Team and Josh for showcasing the outstanding talent of the Australian tunnelling industry!

Major Project of the Year Winner

Sydney Metro is Australia’s biggest public transport project. The City & Southwest project extends the Metro North West rail line from Chatswood through to the Sydney CBD and beyond to Sydenham and Bankstown.

John Holland, CPB Contractors and Ghella (JHCPBG) is delivering the Tunnel and Station Excavation (TSE) Works for the Sydney Metro City & Southwest project – a $2.81-billion contract to design and construct cathedral-like station caverns and tunnels beneath the heart of one of the world’s busiest cities.
The TSE Works are part of the overall Sydney Metro City & Southwest project that will provide a major increase in the capacity of Sydney’s rail network, through the provision of new stations at Crows Nest, Victoria Cross, Barangaroo, Martin Place, Pitt Street, and Waterloo and more direct
connections to high–capacity Sydney CBD stations.

It is Australia’s first project to have five tunnel boring machines (TBMs) building tunnels simultaneously including under iconic Sydney Harbour and through the congested underground CBD environment, while roadheaders created some of the largest caverns in Australia. Having completed Sydney Metro North West – six months early – JHCPBG won the contract to deliver a work scope that was a step-change in complexity. To date, we have completed all the tunnel
excavation works, with TBM tunnelling finishing in March 2020.

JHCPBG’s TSE scope of works includes:

  • Design and construction of twin 15.5km fully lined tunnels between Chatswood and Marrickville, including 57 cross passages
  • Excavating, waterproofing and lining underground mined stations at Victoria Cross, Martin Place and Pitt Street
  • Excavating open station boxes at Crows Nest, Barangaroo and Waterloo
  • Construction of dives and permanent portal structures at Chatswood and Marrickville
  • Excavating, waterproofing and lining a 230m long crossover cavern at Barangaroo
  • Excavating shafts at Artarmon, Blues Point and Barangaroo
  • Construction of a tanked station box structure at Barangaroo
  • Northern Corridor Railway widening works
  • Drainage and earthworks for the Stabling Yard at Marrickville.

The project is highly complex and subject to stringent government conditions, including planning approval conditions, environment protection licences and interface agreements with key stakeholders, including Sydney Trains and Transport for NSW, to protect their assets located in proximity to the project. Some of the unique challenges as part of these scope of works included:

  • Intricate works around the CBD, high volumes of pedestrians and sensitive receivers
  • Working near/under high-rise buildings requiring thorough checks of designs/records with designed mitigation and monitoring regime
  • Numerous heritage-listed buildings/structures nearby
  • Over 200,000 truck movements, avoiding queuing and putting pedestrian safety first
  • Implementing stringent local transport safety laws, onboarding 662 spoil drivers, inspecting 647 trucks which collectively travelled over 21-million kilometres.

Young Tunneller of the Year Winner

There would be few tunnellers who have worked on almost every single major tunnelling project across Australia in the past 10 years – never mind a tunneller under 35. There would be even fewer who have international expertise on Asia’s most complex underground structures. Aurecon’s Joshua Barry has both with 13 years’ experience in the analysis and design of tunnels, caverns and shafts in various ground conditions. Josh is regarded as a future leader in the concept and detailed design, construction monitoring, and project management of large-scale tunnel projects having led teams on: South Island Line and Express Rail Link in Hong Kong; Melbourne Metro and West Gate Tunnel in Melbourne; NorthConnex and WestConnex in Sydney; City Rail Link in Auckland; and Orange Line in Bangkok.

Josh is currently based in Melbourne, where he is managing the construction impacts for one of the world’s largest rail projects, Suburban Rail Loop. As Aurecon’s Australian Tunnels Manager, Josh also takes a managerial role in providing mentoring, resourcing and coordination between Aurecon’s regional offices. Josh started his career at Aurecon as a student engineer in Melbourne, Australia, in 2007. He had recently returned from an exchange in Canada at the University of Waterloo, where he was enthused by the area of geotechnical engineering. This passion was furthered through a 12-week work experience placement at Aurecon, and it wasn’t long before that work experience led to a full-time role.

But it was a move to Hong Kong in 2011 where Josh really began to step up and take on challenges beyond his experience level, including the South Island Line, which really formed the base of his career and got him excited about developing his future in tunnelling. Being part of a project where a mined Station Cavern was constructed underneath one of the world’s busiest existing stations (Admiralty Station) helped form Josh’s passion for tunnel engineering. As the South Island Line projects progressed, he was given greater responsibility to the point where he became the project lead broadening his expertise through design, project management and commercial management.

In 2016, Josh moved to Bangkok where he has gone on to create and lead Aurecon’s first tunnel team in Thailand. Some of the major challenges that Josh has faced are related to spending his career in three very different locations (Melbourne, Hong Kong and Bangkok). This has come with significant challenges in adapting to different cultures, changing styles of business, not to mention the technical challenges of adapting to engineering local best practice. Josh has recently moved back home to Melbourne, Australia where he is helping to nurture the next generation of tunnellers who want to follow in his footsteps.