The parts of the 4000-tonne, 15.6m diameter Herrenknecht TBM will travel from the Port of Melbourne in September to the launch site.

It will take around six months to assemble the TBMs on site. They will be lowered into the shaft by a 550-tonne gantry crane and will start work mid next year. They will build the 6.5km twin tunnels from Watsonia to Bulleen that will remove traffic from suburban roads.

Across the north-east major work sites are under way to prepare for the arrival of TBMs, including a 200m-long tunnel launch area being built on the eastern side of Greensborough Road and a 13m-high shed to store the tunnel segments.

North East Link will be completed in 2028. It is Victoria’s largest road project, and the biggest investment in Melbourne’s north-east. As well as the tunnels, it includes the Hurstbridge Line Duplication, Fitzsimons Lane Upgrade and removing 21 level crossings.

In October 2021 Spark consortium, comprising Webuild, GS Engineering and Construction, CPB Contractors, China Construction Oceania, Ventia, Capella Capital, John Laing Investments, DIF and Pacific Partnerships, was awarded the contract to build, operate and maintain the tunnels and key interchanges.