New Construction Infrastructure Projects Sweeping Australia and New Zealand

Posted by Richard Poulter, Construction Recruitment Director, Hong Kong on Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Response to Covid

Scott Morrison is urging his government departments in Australia to drive infrastructure spend to support the national economy and protect jobs at this time.  There is a surge of projects across road, rail and airports for civil engineers and quantity surveyors to participate in.

Across the water, New Zealand’s infrastructure is also top priority for central and local government funding.

Civil engineering recruitment will undoubtedly flourish in the coming months as new construction projects as well as urban regeneration projects kick off or ramp up. Here’s a snap-shot of what’s happening down under:


Rail Projects

The focus in Australia is on freight rail and passenger metro systems. The passenger rail systems across Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne were originally built half a century ago and now running at capacity.

Inland Rail Project

Australian Rail Track Corporation, ARTC is pioneering the creation of 1700km of freight rail line along the country’s east coast traversing 3 states. Due to its vast scale and technical challenges ARTC has developed 13 separate projects making up this A$10.6 billion inland rail corridor.  The scheme includes the longest freight tunnel in the southern hemisphere; Gowie to Helidon under a PPP arrangement with a preferred proponent to be announced by the end of 2020.

Sydney Metro

66 km of new metro line and 31 metro stations will be delivered with this standalone rail system across 3 stages: Stage 1: Northwest has recently opened, stage 2: Sydney Metro city and south West is currently under procurement and construction for a delivery in 2024 at a cost of A$12billion and stage 3: The city shaping mega project of Sydney Metro West; CBD to Parramatta also a cool A$12 billion including mega tunneling packages and rail and line wide systems packages. There is a proposed link to Western Sydney Airport.


Melbourne Metro Tunnel Project

Construction is underway on this A$11 billion mega project engineered to untangle the city loop so more trains can run more often across Melbourne’s CBD. The project features 2 x 9 km tunnels and 5 new underground metro stations. Early works is complete with most of the construction and modification works under a rail systems alliance and a rail infrastructure alliance due to complete by 2025. Linked to this incredible engineering undertaking is a A$6.9 billion city wide level crossing removal project.


This ambitious project is a civil engineers’ dream. The Cross River Rail Delivery Authority has been established to oversee this 10.2 km rail line from Dutton Park to Bowen Hills which includes 5.9km twin bored tunnels under the Brisbane River and CBD, four new underground stations and upgrades to existing stations.

The current network is nearing capacity and this project will unlock the bottleneck in CBD providing a second river crossing, increasing train capacity and allow integration with new roads and new bus services. Construction is underway on the tunnels and station sites with a target completion date of 2024.


There is a major road programme underway across New South Wales and Queensland including the Western Harbour Tunnel and M4-M5 link in Sydney, the West Gate Tunnel and North East Link in Melbourne valued at A$16 billion, and upgrades to the M1 Pacific Motorway linking the two states.

The Western Harbour Tunnel will be the second road tunnel under Sydney Harbour necessitated by the current congestion on the existing harbour bridge and tunnel. After much public consultation and various rounds of planning approvals, construction is scheduled to commence in 2022, together with Beaches Link, aimed at easing congestion on the Eastern distributor and Anzac Bridge with both targeted for completion in 2026.     

Airport Projects

As global air travel has been massively impacted by the Covid pandemic, many of the World’s airport expansion projects have been put on hold. Western Sydney’s Nancy Bird Walton Airport at A$10 billion is thankfully pushing ahead and early works packages have been progressing during 2020 with a planned first stage opening date of 2026.  Civil Engineers, Project Managers and Quantity Surveyors, with major airports experience, will no doubt be in short supply as the project ramps up during 2022.

Skills shortage

There has long been a skills shortage in Australia particularly in civil engineering and construction projects. The double whammy of current Covid related travel restrictions and working visa restrictions is only worsening the skills shortage across civil engineers, quantity surveyors, planners and project managers.

What's happening in New Zealand?

Auckland City Rail Link

This landmark NZ$4.4 billion civil engineering project will double the number of passengers within a 30 minute travel time of the CBD.  3.45km of double track tunnel constructed under the heart of Auckland’s CBD includes 2 new stations and upgrades to two existing stations. Work is progressing at pace with an overall completion date slated for 2025.

Shopping list of further projects under construction

  • Watercare Auckland – NZ$1.8 billion – Waste water tunneling project to provide additional network capacity

  • Auckland Eastern Busway – NZ$1.4 billion – to provide rapid high frequency public transport to the eastern suburbs

  • Dunedin Hospital – NZ1.4 billion

  • Auckland Rail Upgrades- NZ$1 billion


The team at Maxim is working with key clients in Australia and New Zealand on some of the iconic projects mentioned. Please get in touch with me if you are interested in any of these international construction projects.  If you already have the right to live and work in Australia or New Zealand this would be highly advantageous.   

About the Author

Richard Poulter
Construction Recruitment Director, Hong Kong
I am responsible for the recruitment business in Hong Kong, Asia, and the Middle East. I was a civil engineer and project manager for 15 years before becoming a construction industry recruitment consultant in 2004. I am based in the Hong Kong office and specialise in placing professionals in engineering, project management, planning, HSEQ and risk.
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