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Completion of the trouble-plagued Forrestfield Airport rail link will be delayed by up to a year after the State Government confirmed a series of incidents on the project had hit its timeframe.
Transport Minister Rita Saffioti revealed this morning that the $1.8 billion rail line would not be finished until the “second half” of 2021, a year later than the original deadline of late 2020.
But Ms Saffioti stressed the project’s $1.86 billion budget would not need to be topped up despite several setbacks including ground disturbances and industrial strife.
It came as Ms Saffioti provided an update on work to rectify the biggest incident to affect the rail link to date — a major sinkhole that brought construction to a standstill.
The sinkhole developed in September when work by a boring machine on a “cross tunnel passage” triggered flooding and slippage of soil on a section of the line along Dundas Road on the eastern edge of Perth Airport.
Ms Saffioti said the failure appeared to have been caused by defective work and she had received an apology from head contractor Salini Impregilo-NRW over the incident.
She said work was now under way to determine the best option to fix the problem, with a complete excavation of the site and replacement with a concrete box a possibility.
According to the Minister, the safety of workers on the FAL was the Government’s “paramount” concern and she had brought in WorkSafe to ensure the project was subject to the highest level of scrutiny.
“This Forrestfield-Airport Link is the biggest tunnelling project ever conducted in the Perth metropolitan area,” Ms Saffioti said.
“The two tunnel-boring machines are now halfway through their journey, and only recently finished digging under the runways at Perth Airport.
“This is a massive milestone, considering tunnelling under an operating airport has only ever been done a few times across the world.
“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.”
This article first appeared on www.news.com.au
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