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Getting from Point A to Point B will soon be a lot easier for Perth commuters, with construction work well advanced on a new section of the city’s rail network.Beneath the hustle and bustle of Perth’s eastern suburbs, engineers are toiling away on the largest addition to Western Australia’s metropolitan rail network in decades.
Their efforts will deliver the much-heralded $1.86-billion Forrestfield-Airport Link project, which consists of 8.5 km of commuter railway accessible from three new train stations.
Initiated in 2008 and funded by the WA and Federal Governments, the project means the general public will be able to take the train to Perth Airport for the first time ever via an 18-minute journey from the central business district.
The Forrestfield construction site is mostly taken up by the infrastructure supporting the project’s two purpose-built tunnel boring machines (TBMs), which are excavating parallel tunnels.
The key pieces of equipment making the Forrestfield-Airport Link viable are two tunnel boring machines (TBMs) designed specifically for the project by German company Herrenknecht.
The new section of rail will spin off the existing Midland train line at Bayswater Junction and be accessible at underground stations at Redcliffe and Perth Airport, finishing at an above-ground station in Forrestfield in Perth’s eastern corridor.
At a cost of $20 million each, TBMs Grace and Sandy are mixed-shield TBMs, which combine two distinct types of technology.
Slurry mode employs pipes and fluid to turn the excavated sand, gravel and rock material into a slurry and pumping it out to the plant in Forrestfield.
Earth pressure balance mode uses a screw conveyor and valve to control the face pressure by regulating the amount of spoil in the machine. It is best for processing the clay and alluvial muds beneath the Swan River.
Picks and disc cutters remove the soil and rock from the tunnel face. A screw conveyer takes the excavated material to the jaw crusher with a rotary crusher breaking down the rocks inside the slurry box.
Tunnel boring machine (TBM) Sandy.A segment erector lifts concrete segments into place to form the tunnel lining to form one of 9000 rings.
Once the ring is complete, the TBM pushes off the previous ring. Once the TBM has advanced 2 m, the thruster ram retracts while the machine goes into ring-building mode.
The site consists of a slurry treatment plant, which processes 600,000 m3 of material from the tunnels; a dive structure, where the trains enter and exit the tunnels; a station construction site; and storage areas that hold 14,000 concrete tunnel segments.
Forrestfield Project Manager and civil engineer Mark Nickerson told create that six segments put together form one ring, which collectively make up the tunnel.
He said the 55,000 segments needed to complete both tunnels are all produced just down the road by the joint venture partners that form the project’s lead contractor, Salini Impregilo-NRW.
This article first appeared on www.createdigital.org.au
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