Tunnel vision as airport link pushes ahead

17 February, 2017

The $2 billion Forrestfield-Airport Link will change the way Perth travels.

From late 2020, commuters will be able to catch a train from the city to the airport and on to Forrestfield via a new 8km dual tunnel.

Hear from Project Director of the Salini Impregilo-NRW joint venture Richard Graham and Civil – NRW’s  General Manager Dennis Donjerkovich at a special CCI Sundowner on 1 March.

The link has been described as a game-changer for public transport in Perth and the biggest expansion of the city’s rail network since the Mandurah line was completed nine years ago.

Graham says it may well be on one of those early, epic train journeys deep under the Swan River.

SI-NRW was appointed by the WA Government in April to design, build and maintain the huge venture—a contract worth $1.18 billion.

Graham and his construction team will have to navigate their way through a delicate engineering job.

“It is quite delicate—apart from tunnelling below the environmentally-sensitive Swan River we are going under Perth Airport, under the runways, so it has to be done very carefully, with extensive instrumentation and monitoring,” he says.

But the job certainly doesn’t faze Graham, a Scottish engineer who’s worked for Salini Impregilo for two decades. He points out that the company’s expertise is in undertaking “challenging” major projects, including current Metro jobs in Copenhagen, Doha, Riyadh and Milan.

Graham’s last job was directing Salini’s construction of the Riyadh Metro project in Saudi Arabia, a rail line of 42km with tunnels, viaducts and 22 stations.

“Salini Impregilo is one of the world leaders in complex tunnelling,” he says.

“We have this expertise and are hungry for work to expand, and the Forrestfield-Airport Link is a very good opportunity to launch ourselves in Australia.”

Salini Impregilo is the lead partner with 80 per cent share in the integrated SI-NRW joint venture with its strong local partner NRW.

Handover to the client, the WA Government’s Public Transport Authority, is due late 2020.