Laing O’Rourke wins $955m contract to transform Australia’s busiest station

New South Wales transport minister Andrew Constance today confirmed that the UK’s biggest private contractor, Laing O’Rourke, will build an underground station complex in Sydney to knit an ambitious new transit system to the city’s existing network.

The A$955m (US$746m; £538m) project will see Laing O’Rourke transform Australia’s busiest commuter hub, Central station, digging deep to make it the downtown gateway to the new multi-billion-dollar Sydney Metro City & Southwest network.

Describing the scale of the change to Central station, and claiming it would untangle Sydney’s train network, minister Constance called the project "open-heart surgery on Central", broadcaster ABC reported.

The contract win is good news for Laing O’Rourke, and will confirm its claim to be in turnaround mode after shrinking annual losses to just £60m in its latest results.

State opposition party, Labor, complained that the work will add chaos and disruption to an already stretched network, with more than 270,000 people using the station daily and the number projected to rise.

But the minister slammed Labor for failing to deliver the new Sydney Metro scheme during its 16 years in office, despite promising it five times.

The Sydney Metro project sees a 30-km-long railway connecting downtown to Bankstown in the southwest, going under Sydney Harbour. It has been estimated to cost up to $11bn.

The state government says that when complete in around 2024, the new line will help 100,000 extra daily commuters get across Sydney, and will bump up the number of train services from about 120 an hour now to up to 200 an hour.

Laing O’Rourke’s contract involves building the new Sydney Metro platforms approximately 27m below the existing platform level, and a pedestrian concourse, Central Walk – a 19-metre-wide tunnel from Chalmers Street, linking to new metro platforms under Central Station.

Working alongside global architecture firm Woods Bagot and its partner John McAslan + Partners, and with designers GHD and Aurecon, the British builder will also construct a new roof for the Northern Concourse that will "transform the space and emphasise the historic features of the Central Electric Building", Laing O’Rourke said today.

"We have a strong track record in complex transport precincts around the world – and with this experience we have assembled a team who will deliver a world-class result for the NSW Government, the people of Sydney and the businesses and customers who rely on Central every day," said Laing O’Rourke managing director Cathal O’Rourke.

"Our recent experience delivering the $100 million upgrade of Wynyard Station allowed us to develop construction techniques that will ensure minimal disruption throughout the life of the project. The station needs to be kept running, and its history and heritage protected, as we also upgrade it to the modern transport solution Metro offers."

The state’s indicative schedule sees Laing O’Rourke completing station fit-out in mid-2022.

Renders of new station complex courtesy of Laing O’Rourke

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