The first of two tunnel boring machines (TBMs) have commenced on the $1.86 billion Forrestfield-Airport Link project, beginning its 8km subterranean journey to Bayswater from the future Forrestfield Station site in Perth.
The project comprises twin rail tunnels linking the growing suburbs in Perth’s foothills with the CBD, with three new train stations at Forrestfield, Airport Central and Belmont. It is also the first component of Perth’s METRONET rail plan.
The project’s second TBM will be lowered into the 12m-deep dive structure at Forrestfield in September to being work on the second tunnel.
The 600-tonne, 130-metre-long machines are two of only nine of their kind in the world and are designed to tunnel through the diverse ground conditions on the route, and simultaneously bore the tunnel, remove dirt and reinforce with concrete segments.
About 54,000 locally fabricated concrete tunnel segments will be installed to form the walls of the subway on the project.
International tunnelling experts will train local employees throughout the project, so by the time the rail link is built.
The Public Transport Authority awarded the design, construct and 10-year maintenance contract to a Salini Impregilo – NRW Joint Venture (SI-NRW) in April 2016.
Western Australia Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said Forrestfield-Airport Link is the biggest public transport Perth has seen since construction of the Mandurah Line.
“That landmark project, which is 10-years-old in December, changed the face of the southern suburbs, created unprecedented growth and opened up whole new residential and business centres in the southern metropolitan region,” she said.
“I have no doubt this groundbreaking project, part of our long-term METRONET plan for WA’s public transport network, will have the same transformative effect on the eastern foothills.
Federal Minister for Urban Infrastructure Paul Fletcher said that once complete, the project will provide Forrestfield passengers with a 20-minute central business district journey option, while Perth Airport users will have a direct, 18-minute journey to the central business district.
“The Australian Government has contributed $490 million to the Forrestfield project and a further $792 million towards other key components of METRONET, including the Yanchep and Thornlie line extensions.”
The project is jointly funded by the Western Australian and Federal governments, with the state providing $1.37 billion to the project.