In the project's biggest milestone to date, the first of two tunnel-boring machines (TBMs) began its 8km subterranean trip to Bayswater from the future Forrestfield Station site.
The Forrestfield-Airport Link will be comprised of twin rail tunnels, providing a direct link between the growing foothills and the CBD, with three new train stations at Forrestfield, Airport Central and Belmont.
TBM Grace, named after a local schoolgirl undergoing treatment for leukaemia, will dig the first of the two tunnels. Grace's peers nominated the TBM be named after her because she is the toughest person they know - a quality the machine also needs to bore the 8km of tunnels.
A second TBM, Sandy, will be lowered in to the 12m-deep dive structure at Forrestfield in September to start the second tunnel.
The 600-tonne, 130-metre-long machines are two of only nine of their kind in the world and are designed to tunnel through the diverse ground conditions on the route. The enormous machines are designed to simultaneously bore the tunnel, remove dirt and reinforce with concrete segments.
About 54,000 locally fabricated concrete tunnel segments will be installed to form the walls of the subway throughout the project, providing valuable jobs.
Meanwhile, a tunnelling crew of 18 will be overseeing the TBM operations at any one time. International tunnelling experts will train local employees throughout the project, so by the time the rail link is built, WA will have a local workforce capable of delivering future tunnel projects.
The Public Transport Authority awarded the design, construct and 10-year maintenance contract to a Salini Impregilo - NRW Joint Venture (SI-NRW) in April 2016.
The project is jointly funded by the State ($1.37b) and Federal ($490m) Governments. More information is available at http://www.forrestfieldairportlink.wa.gov.au
Comments attributed to Premier Mark McGowan:
"It is a pleasure to mark the start of the two-year journey these machines will make under our city to deliver this brand new rail corridor.
"This major milestone for the Forrestfield-Airport Link will be one of many as this Government pushes ahead with its METRONET plan.
"METRONET will not just help ease congestion, it will present opportunities for development, invigorate communities and create thousands of jobs."
Comments attributed to Federal Minister for Urban Infrastructure Paul Fletcher:
"Once completed the project will provide Forrestfield passengers with a 20-minute central business district journey option, while Perth Airport users will have a direct, 18-minute journey to the central business district.
"The Australian Government has contributed $490 million to the Forrestfield project and a further $792 million towards other key components of METRONET, including the Yanchep and Thornlie line extensions."
Comments attributed to Transport Minister Rita Saffioti:
"This is the biggest public transport project Perth has seen since construction of the Mandurah Line.
"That landmark project, which is 10-years-old in December, changed the face of the southern suburbs, created unprecedented growth and opened up whole new residential and business centres in the southern metropolitan region.
"I have no doubt this groundbreaking project, part of our long-term METRONET plan for WA's public transport network, will have the same transformative effect on the eastern foothills.
"We are building the public transport network that Perth needs and introducing world-class urban design."
Media line: (08) 9326 2526 or email@example.com