METRONET’s Forrestfield-Airport Link has reached a significant milestone, with tunnel-boring machine (TBM) Sandy completing tunnelling.

The 130 metre-long, world-class machine broke through at the Bayswater dive structure after spending more than 900 days tunnelling through varied and sometimes challenging conditions – including under Perth Airport and the Swan River.

Western Australian Premier, Mark McGowan, said, “The completion of tunnelling marks a major milestone for WA infrastructure.

“While Western Australia has been grappling with COVID-19, TBM Sandy and the project team have been continuing to work on this incredible project for Perth.”

Sandy’s arrival at Bayswater completed a total 16km of tunnelling for the project – twin bored tunnels, each of 8km and was achieved just nine weeks after TBM Grace arrived on 18 February 2020.

The tunnels will link three new stations at Forrestfield, Airport Central and Redcliffe to the existing rail network. 

“Construction of the stations also continues, as does the installation of track slab, with the first track expected to be laid in July,” Mr McGowan said.

“Completing the Forrestfield-Airport Link is a key element of our METRONET plan to connect Perth’s suburbs and ease congestion, and will play an important role in WA’s COVID-19 economic recovery.” 

“In times like these it’s important we continue to progress projects that will provide work for local businesses and keep workers in their jobs, ultimately supporting the State’s wider economy.”

The TBMs installed 9,000 tunnel rings comprising 54,000 locally fabricated concrete segments to form the tunnel walls, which were designed and built to have 120-year durability. 

With tunnelling now complete, TBM Sandy will be dismantled and craned out of the dive structure. Installation of the first stage of track slab is 50 per cent complete and track laying is scheduled to begin in July 2020. Construction and fit-out of the station buildings continues.

The $1.86 billion Forrestfield-Airport Link project currently provides more than 700 Western Australian jobs and, along with the other METRONET projects, will play a key role in WA’s COVID-19 economic recovery.

Western Australian Minister for Transport, Rita Saffioti, said, “TBM Sandy has lived up to her subterranean – and uniquely Western Australian – namesake in completing the second of our two tunnels. 

“As we turn to the project’s next phase of construction, TBM Sandy’s breakthrough is a timely reminder of the vital role METRONET projects will play in WA’s COVID-19 economic recovery.”

 Trains are set to run on the new rail line in the second half of 2021.

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