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Metro Tunnel work grinds to a halt as dispute over cost blowout escalates

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Tunneling has stopped on the Metro Tunnel project as tensions rise between the builders of the tunnel and the government over cost blowouts.

The project’s two tunnel boring machines lie idle in North Melbourne, while their work crews are still being paid and the rumoured blowout is growing.

The project is at least $200 million over budget and the Cross Yarra Partnership, the consortium building the tunnel, has requested additional funding from the Andrews Government.

This request has not been met, so workers have stopped work as a negotiation tactic.

The stop work comes after weeks of mounting conflict with a mediator brought in to temper tension between the two parties.

3AW’s state political reporter, James Talia, said the work halt is a “dramatic escalation” of the conflict.

“The consortium certainly seems to have ramped up the tactics by simply stopping digging,” he told 3AW’s Tom Elliott.

“It’s a pretty clear shot across the government’s bow.”

There are rumours the cost blowout may be much larger than $200 million, and the builder may not complete the project.

“There are some reports that the consortium might look to walk away altogether,” Mr Talia said.

Shadow transport spokesman David Davis says he believes the project is a mammoth $3 billion over budget.

The government has kept tight-lipped about the rumoured blowout, saying the consortium is contracted to complete the tunnel in 2025 and is on track to do so.

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Image: Bloomberg

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