The WA Premier today launched one of the giant machines that will drill the tunnels for Perth’s newest rail line.
In the project’s biggest milestone to date, the first of two tunnel-boring machines (TBMs) began its 8km subterranean trip to Bayswater from the future Forrestfield Station site.
The Forrestfield-Airport Link will be comprised of twin rail tunnels, providing a direct link between the growing foothills and the CBD, with three new train stations at Forrestfield, Airport Central and Belmont.
TBM Grace, named after a local schoolgirl undergoing treatment for leukaemia, will drill the first of the two tunnels.
Grace’s peers nominated the TBM be named after her because she is the toughest person they know – a quality the machine also needs to bore the 8km of tunnels.
A second TBM, Sandy, will be lowered in to the 12m-deep dive structure at Forrestfield in September to start drilling 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.
The enormous machines are designed to 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 throughout the project, providing valuable jobs.
Meanwhile, a tunnelling crew of 18 will be overseeing the TBM operations at any one time.
International tunnelling experts will train local employees throughout the project, so by the time the rail link is built, WA will have a local workforce capable of delivering future tunnel projects.
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.
The project is jointly funded by the State ($1.37b) and Federal ($490m) Governments. More information is available at http://www.forrestfieldairportlink.wa.gov.au
Federal Minister for Urban Infrastructure Paul Fletcher said the project will provide Perth Airport passengers a direct, 18-minute journey to the central business district.