Forrestfield-Airport Link rail service project postponed to 2021

The Government of Western Australia has postponed the completion date of the A$1.86bn ($1.33bn) Forrestfield-Airport Link project following damage to a section of one of its tunnels.

The project will see the construction of a rail service to Perth’s eastern suburbs and will improve the existing network by providing three new stations connected through twin-bored tunnels.

Under the revised timeframe, the first trains on the line are expected to run in the second half of 2021. According to the original plan, the project was due to be completed in late 2020.

In September, a leak in the tunnel-to-tunnel cross passage located around 200m north of the Forrestfield Station site damaged a 26m section of one tunnel and moved 16 concrete rings. The incident also caused a sinkhole alongside Dundas Road.

Subsequent investigations have indicated various reasons for the incident, including construction defects in the grout block.

The government said that rectification measures have been identified to renovate the damages at Dundas Road and the cross passage.

The damaged section has been stabilised with a temporary structure, while the leaks and voids created due to ring movement were sealed with cement grouting.

Western Australia Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said: “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.”

Construction of the subsequent cross passage is scheduled to commence from next month.

The project is jointly funded by the state and federal government.