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Tunnel Vision: The Pics That Show The Scale Of Sydney's Underwater Commute

The first metro railway tunnel built deep under Sydney Harbour has been completed, but it will be a while before commuters can catch a train through it.

Lying 40 metres beneath the ocean floor, the tunnel is the first of its kind in Sydney. When the underwater project is finished, one metro train is expected to run every two minutes both towards and away from the city.

Fascinating images show the tunnel boring machine (TBM) drilling through rock and earth below the sea.

Part of the TBM in Sydney. Image: NSW Government.
The expected path for the second tunnel. Image: NSW Government.

The project is in fact one of the largest in Sydney's history, and it has a  massive drill to match.

Named Kathleen, the drill had its 90-tonne cutter head removed after the completion of the first tunnel and carefully shipped across the harbour. Kathleen will get her head back ahead of the construction of the second tunnel.

The drill was named after Kathleen Butler, who played a vital role in the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the 1920s. She was a technical adviser to John Bradfield, who oversaw construction of the bridge.

Kathleen the drill. Image: NSW Government.
Part of Kathleen was dismantled and shipped across the Harbour. Image: NSW Government.

“It is incredible that Kathleen has already finished her first tunnel and we are able to walk through this crucial piece of infrastructure deep under the harbour,” Transport Minister Andrew Constance said on Monday after walking through the tunnel.

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NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian also walked to the deepest point of the futuristic-looking tunnel on Monday.

“Today we have made history walking deep beneath Sydney Harbour for the first time, inside one of two metro railway tunnels to be built as part of this mega project.”

The inside of the first harbour tunnel. Image: NSW Government.

Sydneysiders will have to wait until 2024 to catch a metro train through the tunnel.

Contact Siobhan at skenna@networkten.com.au