Perth's Airport Rail Link delayed, now set to open in 2021

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Perth's Airport Rail Link delayed, now set to open in 2021
Perth's Airport Rail Link delayed, now set to open in 2021

WA Transport Minister, Rita Saffioti, has announced the opening date for Perth's Forrestfield-Airport rail link will open one year later than originally expected.

The delay in opening has been caused by the need to undertake urgent remediation works back in September, when a leak developed in the tunnel-to-tunnel cross passage near the Forrestfield station site. 

The leak caused damage to 26 metres of tunnel and created a sinkhole on the surface. The WA branch of the CFMEU, through its Facebook page, was highly critical of the head contractor, pointing out tunneling shortcomings as recently as early December.

According to a WA Government media statement, the damaged section of tunnel has been stabilised and made safe with solid temporary supports.  

Permanent solutions to fix the damaged section of tunnel include possibly rebuild the damaged section of tunnel either from the surface down or from within the tunnel itself. The WA Government has also advertised a role for a top-level scientist to oversee the materials and workmanship use on the Forrestfield-Airport link.

Perth's Airport Rail Link delayed, now set to open in 2021
The flooded tunnel on the Forrestfield-Airport Rail Link (September 2018). Image: WA CFMEU

The WA Transport Minister said despite the delay and the tunneling bungle, the project has been designed with a useful life of 120 years.

"Our primary focus is on safety and quality, and that is why today we have set a revised timeframe for the project. It is also to make sure we inform the public of the proposed timeframe as soon as practicable.

While the delay is unfortunate, this project is being built to last 120 years. I believe the time added to the construction schedule is a small price to pay to ensure we safely deliver this asset which will serve the people of WA for generations."

Rita Saffioti, WA Minister for Transport

The Forrestfield-Airport Rail Link was initiated by the previous state government in Western Australia, and the present government has rolled it into its wider METRONet public transport strategy which will see multiple new lines built as well as the beginning of orbital rail links throughout metropolitan Perth.

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