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This article was written by Jake McCallum in The Hills Shire Times on 18 Jan 2016.

The project is running ahead of time and under budget which means that when there is an opportunity to bring things forward on other projects, that is exactly what we will do – Premier Mike Baird

NSW Premier Mike Baird said he will hit the accelerator on the Sydney Metro Northwest project following the completion of tunnelling at Cherrybrook on Thursday.


Picture: CAMERON RICHARDSON

The final TBM, Florence, makes a breakthrough at Cherrybrook.
With the breakthrough of the tunnel boring machine, nicknamed Florence, at Cherrybrook, Mr Baird celebrated what he called a “revolutionary milestone for north west commuters”.

The final stage of the two 15km tunnels, which have snaked their way from Bella Vista under Norwest Business Park and Castle Hill, sees the project running under budget and ahead of schedule, according to the NSW Premier.

“The Sydney Metro will improve transport with more regular services and great opportunities to improve people’s quality of life,” Mr Baird said.

The NSW Premier also confirmed that plans to speed up other construction sites throughout the Sydney Metro project are on the cards.

“The project is running ahead of time and under budget, which means that when there is an opportunity to bring things forward on other projects, that is exactly what we will do.” Premier Baird said.

“As we look at the opportunity for infrastructure we look to maximise each project, which includes reaching time frames on other projects.”

NSW Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance congratulated the men and women who worked on the project for the past 15 months.

The Sydney Metro Northwest is scheduled for completion by 2019 with station construction and tunnel fitout to occur from 2016-19.

Tunnel boring machines Elizabeth and Florence tunnelled from Bella Vista to Cherrybrook, while Maria and Isabelle tunnelled from Cherrybrook to Epping.

The Sydney Metro Northwest will run as an aboveground “Skytrain” from Cudgegong Rd to Bella Vista, before entering the tunnels and reaching Chatswood via the line from Epping to Chatswood, which will be converted.

It will form part of a citywide metro network, that will connect to the Sydney CBD and onto Bankstown following the pending conversion of the Bankstown heavy rail line.

Meanwhile, Sydney Metro Northwest workers worked over the New Years break to dismantle the first tunnel boring machine — Elizabeth — at Cherrybrook and bring her 105-tonne cutting head to the surface at Cherrybrook.

The excavator finished work in late November, having chewed through more than 700,000 tonnes of Sydney sandstone and shale and went through 735 hardened steel teeth during her 15month journey from Bella Vista to Cherrybrook.