THE Suburban Connect consortium has been named as preferred bidder for construction of the first 16km of tunnelling for Melbourne’s Suburban Rail Loop (SRL).

The consortium includes CPB Contractors, Ghella and Acciona Construction, and is set to win the first main works contract for the project, which will be awarded by the end of the year. TBMs are scheduled to begin work on the 16km dual bore tunnel, which will run from Cheltenham to Glen Waverley, in 2026.

A second contract will be awarded next year for 10km of tunnel between Glen Waverley and Box Hill.

Early construction of SRL East is now under way in Box Hill, Burwood and Heatherton, with works starting soon in Monash and returning to Glen Waverley and Clayton later this year.

Construction will create up to 8000 direct jobs and deliver six new underground stations between Cheltenham and Box Hill. Operation is expected to begin on SRL East by 2035.

The SRL will be a 90km entirely automated line from Werribee in the southwest suburbs to Cheltenham in the southeast, linking every major train service from the Frankston Line to the Werribee Line via Melbourne Airport. Three transport hubs at Clayton, Broadmeadows and Sunshine will connect regional services, so passengers outside Melbourne will not have to travel through the city centre to access other rail lines.

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