The Premier of Western Australian, Mark McGowan, officially launched on July 30 the start of the tunneling work by Salini Impregilo on the AU$1.86 billion ($1.5 billion US) Forrestfield-Airport Link project to alleviate traffic congestion in Perth by extending the city’s public transport network.
“It is a pleasure to mark the start of the two-year journey these machines will make under our city to deliver this brand new rail corridor,” said McGowan at the ceremony held at the site of the future Forrestfield Station, one of three stations to be built along the new line. Premier McGowan invited Grace McPhee, a local schoolgirl who is undergoing treatment for leukaemia and for whom the first of two tunnel-boring machines (TBMs) is named, to give the signal to start the machine.
Grace’s peers nominated the TBM be named after her because she is the toughest person they know. TBM Grace will excavate the first of two parallel tunnels as well as three new train stations at Forrestfield, Airport Central and Belmont. The second TBM, named Sandy, will be lowered down a dive structure at the same Forrestfield site in August for assembly and a September start on the other tunnel. The project, being developed by Salini Impregilo and joint-venture partner NRW, is set to be completed in 2020.
Salini Impregilo has an 80% stake in the JV. The line’s total length will be 8.5 km, 8 of which underground. It will allow residents in the eastern suburbs to travel 20 minutes to the city center. Perth is the fourth largest city in Australia and the new rail line will allow it to meet the needs of its growing population, which is expected to increase to 3.2 million from 2.0 million by 2030.