Tunnel boring machines powering ahead

The two tunnel boring machines (TBM) for the Forrestfield-Airport Link in Perth have now broken through the arrival box at Airport Central Station – about a quarter of the way into their 8km journey to Bayswater.

It is the first time TBM Sandy and TBM Grace have re-appeared since they began tunnelling at Forrestfield in late 2017.

The machines have arrived at track level of the future Airport Central Station – some 17m below ground. Future passengers will enter the station at ground level and go down to a concourse and train platform level, similar to Perth Underground in the city.

WA Premier, Mark McGowan, said, “These breakthroughs are an exciting milestone for this METRONET project – the station construction workers and machine operators are to be congratulated.

“The scale of these machines are incredible, they are taller than a two-storey house, and the footage of them boring into the box structure is equally impressive.”

A dedicated local workforce was busy preparing the Airport Central Station box prior to the arrival of the two TBMs.

They prepared 2200 square metre concrete blocks for the machines to enter the station through, which also served to stabilise the walls and reduce water ingress during the breakthrough.

The TBMs were guided through the 12.5m block over a period of 24 hours, with a team of 15 present inside each machine for the final breakthrough.

Both machines will now be subject to a month-long maintenance program where they are cleaned and serviced. TBM Grace will then continue its journey to Redcliffe Station, with TBM Sandy following about two weeks later.

Extensive works have been completed at the Airport Central site in recent weeks, with construction of the station’s base slab now complete.

The new METRONET Forrestfield-Airport Link will provide a 20-minute direct link between the eastern foothills and the CBD – as well as the wider public transport network – via the airport.

WA Minister for Transport, Rita Saffioti, said, “As Transport Minister, I am thrilled to see TBM Sandy and TBM Grace have arrived at the future Airport Central Station. It is a visible sign of great progress on the project.

“This is the biggest rail project to take place in WA for more than a decade, and will dramatically change the way eastern foothills residents travel, how their communities develop, and how the rest of Perth journeys to Perth Airport.” 

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