Engineering, Passenger Rail

Second TBM prepared for final leg of Forrestfield-Airport Link

Both of the Forrestfield-Airport Link rail project’s tunnelling machines have now been refreshed ahead of the last leg of their boring journey.

Tunnel boring machine (TBM) Sandy has been cleaned, serviced and inspected and had its worn cutter head tools replaced, during a temporary break at the Redcliffe station box, where it broke through on July 6.

With testing of mechanical and electrical equipment underway, TBM Sandy will soon recommence its journey towards Bayswater.

The other TBM, Grace, was relaunched towards Bayswater on June 14, after a similar servicing period at Redcliffe earlier that month.

Together TBM Grace and TBM Sandy have now bored about 9.5 kilometres of twin tunnels for the Forrestfield-Airport Link, meaning nearly two-thirds of tunnelling is now complete.

“It’s amazing to think two years ago this month, construction of these landmark tunnels began with the launch of TBM Grace,” WA premier Mark McGowan said during a visit to the Redcliffe station box on July 29.

“Where once there was dirt, sand, rocks and tree roots, now sits the foundation for Perth’s newest railway line. With less than a year of tunnelling to go, I’m looking forward to seeing TBM Grace and Sandy break through at Bayswater.”

Once the TBMs complete their journey, the state hopes to break them apart and, where possible, sell components back to manufacturer Herrenknecht, for re-use.

As the TBMs progress on the two primary tunnels, work also continues on the 12 tunnel cross passages along the route, with two complete at this stage. Work is also set to begin on rail infrastructure along the route.

“With the tunnels between Forrestfield and Redcliffe stations now formed, works can begin to construct the required rail infrastructure within the tunnels. This includes pouring the first concrete track slab,” transport minister Rita Saffioti said.

“The next few years will mark the renaissance of rail in WA, with multiple projects getting under construction, creating a pipeline of work and local jobs.”

The $1.86 billion Forrestfield-Airport Link is creating a new, 8.5-kilometre twin tunnel railway spur, branching off the Midland line near Bayswater station, connecting to Forrestfield via Perth Airport.

The TBMs started their journey at Forrestfield, the third station and eventual terminus for the new spur line. They have since passed through the second station box at Airport Central, and depart Redcliffe, which will be the first new station on the line.