Sandgroper ready to provide vital city rail link
Premier Geoff Gallop today unveiled the new purpose-built tunnel boring machine (TBM) that will shortly be tunnelling a link beneath Perth's CBD between new stations at William Street and the Esplanade.
Dr Gallop said the two 770m tunnels beneath William Street were a vital part of the $1.56billion New MetroRail Project, providing a fast, direct link between the city and the southern suburbs.
"We are about to enter an exciting and challenging phase of the rail project," the Premier said.
"The tunnel-boring and construction of a new underground station at William Street is one of the most significant engineering tasks ever undertaken in Australia.
"With commissioning nearing completion, the TBM will start removing earth in just a few weeks."
Coined 'the Sandgroper', the 60m-long, 300-tonne TBM represents the cutting edge of soft-ground tunnelling technology and has been manufactured specifically for Perth's soil conditions.
Components were shipped from Kobe, Japan, to Perth and then lowered into the launch box where the massive machine was assembled - it is the 1,649th TBM produced by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
Kumagai, the city project's joint venture partner, has more than 40 years of international tunnelling experience and has completed more than 700 TBM projects involving more than 730km of tunnels - the majority in soft ground.
Dr Gallop said the Southern Suburbs Railway was fast taking shape.
"Progress on the city stations and the cut-and-cover tunnel structures is evident everywhere you look in the city," he said.
"Station structures are taking shape as concreting work progresses - this is particularly visible at the William Street site, where work is now advancing on the underground levels of the future station.
"To get to the stage where tunnel-boring can begin, we have relocated major utility services, removed and preserved the Mitchell's Building façade and underpinned the heritage-listed Wellington Building to enable it to be retained above the William Street Station platforms.
"South of the city, construction progress can be seen all the way to Mandurah as station sites are established; the new Mt Henry Bridge widening will soon span Canning River and earthworks and bridge works are well advanced between Rockingham and Mandurah."
The Premier said now, more than ever, Perth needed the New MetroRail Project.
"With petrol prices on the rise, the completion of the Southern Suburbs Railway will offer a faster, cleaner and economical alternative to car travel to residents in the south metropolitan region," he said.
"The start of tunnel boring means that we are that much closer to delivering on our pledge to doubling the size of Perth's urban rail system."
Tunnelling will commence in early in October and operations will continue 24 hours per day.