Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance today inspected the site where Sydney Metro’s fifth mega tunnel boring machine is preparing to begin the historic first rail crossing deep under Sydney Harbour.

Tunnel boring machine Kathleen is being assembled at the site of the new Barangaroo metro station, to start tunnelling under the Harbour in June.

“Kathleen will quite literally shape Sydney’s future in the coming months as she builds the first railway tunnels under Sydney Harbour – linking metro rail from the city’s northwest, through the CBD and on to the south west,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“This game-changing project is the first new rail line through Sydney since the 1970s and will massively cut travel times for commuters across the whole system.”

The specialised harbour tunnel boring machine is named after Kathleen Butler, who played a vital role in the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge as the technical advisor to legendary engineer John JJC Bradfield.

This project is providing a boost to the NSW economy, with more than 6200 people to work on the project at the peak of construction. “I am so excited by the progress of the Sydney Metro City & Southwest project,” Mr Constance said.

“Four mega borers have been busy digging more than five kilometres of tunnels under the city in the past five months – that’s 16 per cent of the Sydney Metro Tunnelling task completed.”

Four new Sydney Metro stations are being built in the Sydney CBD – at Martin Place, Pitt Street, Barangaroo and Central. “This once again shows that only the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government will deliver Metro rail across Sydney,” Mr Constance said.

“When Labor was last in office they announced 12 rail projects. They did not deliver one in full and they are already promising to cancel the Sydenham to Bankstown Metro upgrade.”

Kathleen will join the four borers currently digging from Marrickville and Chatswood towards the harbour’s edge. Together all five tunnel boring machines will deliver twin 15.5 kilometre rail tunnels for Australia’s biggest public transport project.

Sydney Metro Northwest is on track to open in May and is at least a billion dollars under budget. It includes 13 Metro stations and 4000 commuter car parking spaces.

Metro rail is being extended from the north west, into the CBD and beyond to Bankstown in 2024, delivering Sydney 31 metro stations and a 66km standalone metro railway line.