Tunneling work on the METRONET Forrestfield-Airport Link in Western Australia has stopped with one of the two tunnel boring machines (TBM) temporarily shut down due to ground disturbance issues.

TBM Grace began tunnelling as part of the new Perth Airport rail link in August 2017, while the second TBM Sandy, started tunnelling in October 2017.

WA Minister for Transport, Rita Saffioti, has confirmed that boring machine Grace was forced to stop on 14 February 2018 after two disturbances in the earth above the tunnel, 300m from the airport station site.

Ms Saffioti said that while an independent precautionary review of the site was being done, Grace would undergo maintenance after tunnelling for 1.6km.

“We want to make sure that everything’s clear to go forward, so they’re doing a review as to how everything was operating in that area.

“There’s no delay yet because Grace was ahead of schedule and it was waiting for the (station) wall to be completed.”

A Perth Airport spokeswoman said there had been no threat to workers or the public and the project had not reached any critical infrastructure.

“The temporary suspension will allow for the processes associated with the tunnelling to be independently reviewed and validated.

“PTA and Perth Airport will work together to progress the review in a timely manner to allow for resumption of tunnelling. Following discussions with Perth Airport and the Public Transport Authority, the contractor chose to cease tunnelling.”

Completing the Forrestfield-Airport Link is a key part of the WA Government’s METRONET plan, creating a 20-minute direct link between the eastern foothills and the central business district – as well as the wider public transport network – via the airport.

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