Perth's Forrestfield-Airport rail link completes a major TBM milestone

Perth's Forrestfield-Airport rail link completes a major TBM milestone
Perth's Forrestfield-Airport rail link completes a major TBM milestone

Both tunnel boring machines (TBMs) that are building the new Forrestfield-Airport Link in the WA capital have smashed through into the Airport station pit having travelled 1.9km thus far.

In common with tunnel projects around the world, the TBMs are named - Grace and Sandy.

Grace, the frontrunner, pierced the Perth Airport station box earlier this month with Sandy smashing through on May 21st. 

The Forrestfield-Airport Link project began life under the previous WA administration and has since been subsumed into the wider Metronet program which the new WA Government run an election platform on.  

The new line will branch off from the existing Midland line to the east of Bayswater and include three new stations, two underground and the terminus, Forrestfield, will be on the surface to the east of Perth Airport.

A new flying junction is being built at Bayswater where the new tunnels will head under the Swan River and toward a new station to be named Redcliffe that will be located approximately 500m from the old Domestic and now dedicated Qantas terminal at Perth Airport.  

The second new station will be known as Airport Central, to be built nextdoor, to the south of the Perth Airport control tower.  This precinct of Perth Airport was traditionally the International terminal but has now morphed into a hybrid domestic (Virgin) and international precinct.  The Perth Airport masterplan from 2014 calls for consolidation of airport terminals in the vicinity of the Airport Central station.

The tunnels continue eastward from Airport Central and then surface just before the terminus station at Forrestfield where a major new bus/rail interchange will be built that will give residents living in Perth's east and hills district a 20-minute rail journey to the CBD.

Perth's Forrestfield-Airport rail link completes a major TBM milestone
Tunnel elevation diagram showing station locations and depths beneath the surface - image: Metronet

The wider Metronet program was a policy platform the new Western Australian ALP Government took to the last election and includes a large array of public transport projects that would see multiple new rail lines and extensions.

Perth's existing rail network has 33 level crossing across the metropolitan area and a level crossing removal program is included in the wider Metronet platform.

There is a project to extend the Thornlie branch which is a small branch of the south-eastern Armadale at present, to Cockburn Central on the southern Mandurah line.

Perth looks set to join Melbourne in beginning to convert existing electrified rail lines over to automatic train control which the Metronet website states will occur over a 12 year period.

Lead image credit: Forrestfield-Airport Link / Metronet on facebook.

Alastair Taylor

Alastair Taylor

Alastair Taylor is a co-founder of Urban.com.au. Now a freelance writer, Alastair focuses on the intersection of public transport, public policy and related impacts on medium and high-density development.

Tags: 
Perth Public Transport Forrestfield-Airport Link Perth Metronet

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