Civil infrastructure news, Earthmoving News, Victoria, Victoria's Big Build

Upskilling the next generation of tunnel workers

Inside a modern underground railway tunnel

In an Australian first, new virtual reality is helping North East Link and other Victoria’s Big Build workers get ready to deliver some of the state’s biggest infrastructure projects.

Virtual training will be used at the Victorian Tunnelling Centre (VTC) to give North East Link workers simulated experience of operating and staying safe below-ground.

With tunnelling now complete on the Metro Tunnel and edging closer to completion on the West Gate Tunnel Project, attention is shifting to the next big tunnel – the North East Link.

“The North East Link is more than just Victoria’s biggest road project – it’s an investment in communities in Melbourne’s north east, getting trucks off local roads, slashing travel times, and improving community facilities,” said Premier Daniel Andrews.

Thousands of workers are needed to build the North East Link Tunnels from Watsonia to Bulleen, with the VTC at Holmesglen Institute in Chadstone playing a key role in preparing them to build the 6.5-kilometre tunnels.

The tunnelling centre also includes life-sized replicas of mined and bored tunnels and a massive tunnel boring machine cutterhead.

Electrical Safety training at the VTC. Image courtesy of Victoria’s Big Build.

The facility is the only one of its kind in Australia and is upskilling the massive pipeline of tunnelling workers needed to deliver the North East Link, Metro Tunnel, West Gate Tunnel, and Suburban Rail Loop East projects, creating around 31,000 local construction jobs combined.

More than 4200 North East Link workers including tunnelling specialists and construction workers have already completed the training.

More than six million hours have been clocked up by apprentices, trainees, and cadets on Big Build projects since 2018 thanks to the Victorian Government’s Major Projects Skills Guarantee.

Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Jacinta Allan said: “Our nation-leading skills and training programs are preparing Victoria’s next generation of Big Build workers, opening the door to thousands of job opportunities on the state’s biggest construction projects.”

The North East Link tunnels and freeway upgrades will be complete in 2028, and are expected to cut travel times by up to 35 minutes, and take 15,000 trucks off local roads.

For more on the VTC, visit:

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