Ground has broken on a huge rail project which will link create a 20-minute rail link between Perth’s Central Business District and its airport and eastern suburbs.

In a joint statement, Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan and Transport Minister Rita Saffoiti said that the first kilometre of track for the $1.8 billion Forrestfield-Airport Link project  has been laid  near Redcliffe Station.

Part of a the bigger METRONET projects which will deliver 72 kilometres of new passenger rail and up to 18 new stations, the new link will connect the Perth CBD to the eastern suburbs and deliver new stations at Redcliffe, Airport Central and High Wycombe.

Australian company Martinus Rail – under contract to Salini Impregilo-NRW Joint Venture – will use more than 2,400 tonnes of Australian-manufactured steel in the tracklaying process, with around 40 kilometres of rail needed to form the track in each tunnel, tie-ins at Bayswater and stowage at High Wycombe.

The rail started out as 27.5 metre pieces of steel before being flash-butt welded into giant 220 metre strings. Multiple teams work simultaneously to weld lengths of rail, transport and precisely lay the rail and sleepers to form the skeleton track in the tunnels, then pour the concrete that finishes the slab track.

Work is also underway to prepare for the installation of the overhead line equipment and the complex systems for communications and signalling. The tracklaying and rail infrastructure processes will support more than 100 jobs.

McGowan said the project’s importance could not be underestimated.

“This year alone we have seven METRONET projects underway, providing a much needed boost for our local economy as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” McGowan said.

“Tracklaying is one of the final major events on the construction of a rail line – it’s an exciting milestone for this $1.86 billion project, with more than 2,400 tonnes of Australian-made steel being prepared.

“This project continues to provide opportunities for local businesses, with WA company Melchor recently announced as the builder of the multistorey car park at High Wycombe Station.”

Saffioti agrees.

“We’re at an exciting time for this major infrastructure project – the tunnel-boring machines have finished creating our tunnels, our three new stations are taking shape and tracklaying is now underway.

“More than 2,400 tonnes of steel will soon become the new rail line that will carry thousands of people each day between the CBD, our airport and the south-eastern suburbs.

“The project has achieved several milestones already this year and, together with other METRONET projects, will play a significant role in WA’s COVID-19 economic recovery.”