SRL’s Environment Effects Statement (EES) planning process, which received more than 360 submissions and saw an independent panel hear from 47 witnesses over 39 days of public hearings, has resulted in changes that will benefit the community during construction and operation.

The environment and climate change minister has endorsed the recommendations of the Inquiry and Advisory Committee, clearing the way for the necessary planning approvals.

SRL East will deliver 26km of twin tunnels and six new underground stations between Cheltenham and Box Hill in Melbourne. The new line will be operational by 2035.

The minister found most operational impacts had been removed by putting the line underground, and that the environmental effects of SRL East had been identified and carefully considered.

More than 850 geotechnical investigations, 10,000 lab tests, hundreds of expert studies, extensive stakeholder consultation and feedback from more than 20,000 people informed the design development of SRL East and the EES.

Construction on SRL East started in June, with the launch of a programme of initial and early works. As well as utility protections, the initial and early works will include road modifications, service relocation and preparation for three sites where the TBMs will be launched. Up to 10 TBMs will be used in the project, with tunnelling to begin in 2026.

The project has attracted expressions of interest from five bidders:

  • Bouygues Construction Australia Pty Ltd
  • CPB Contractors Pty Ltd, Ghella Pty Ltd and Acciona Construction Australia Pty Ltd
  • John Holland Pty Ltd and Gamuda Berhad, trading as Gamuda (Australia) Branch
  • Samsung C&T Corporation and Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co Ltd
  • Webuild, GS Engineering and Construction Australia Pty Ltd

Three bidders will move through to a Request for Proposal process later this year, and from there two will be awarded tunnelling contracts. The first will be announced next year.