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Bayswater residents should settle in for at least a further six months of construction works in their suburb with Transport Minister Rita Saffioti confirming more delays for Perth’s biggest ever rail project.
The $1.86 billion project is now expected to become operational in the first half of 2022, 18 months after its original completion date of December 2020 and six months after the revised deadline of the second half of 2021.
Premier Mark McGowan and Transport Minister Rita Saffioti (front) at the site of the new Perth to Bayswater airport link.CREDIT:HAMISH HASTIE
Despite WA Premier Mark McGowan stating in January he expected trains to run by the end of the year, Ms Saffioti said there had been unavoidable delays related to supplies of steel and materials needed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
She said contingencies in the project contracts meant it would still come in on budget.
The COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March 2020 but Ms Saffioti said she had only found out about the delays this week after discussions with contractors.
Asked whether management of the airport link bode poorly for the rest of the government’s ambitious Metronet build program, Ms Saffioti said the government had nine projects under way and continued to employ thousands of people throughout the pandemic.
“There are over 600 people employed on this project today and I think that’s a huge achievement,” she said.
Sinkhole fix still not completedThe 8.5 kilometre tunnel and rail line from Perth Airport to Bayswater has been plagued with workplace safety incidents and setbacks, the biggest being a sinkhole forming on Dundas Road from a water leak in 2018.
The sinkhole damaged a 26-metre section of the tunnel and caused major flooding, triggering the first year-long delay of the project.
More than a year on, rectification works are still not complete due to supply issues with a steel known as spheroidal graphite iron, which is often used to reinforce tunnel walls.
The airport link project is a legacy project that started in the dying days of the Barnett Government with nearly $500 million poured in by the federal government.
On Friday, it was officially linked to the wider rail network at the new Bayswater Junction.
Track laying is about 85 per cent completed and work has begun on overhead infrastructure.
This article first appeared on www.watoday.com.au
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