Brave Grace knows the drill

Kalamunda Reporter - - News -

FIVE-year-old Grace McPhee climbed out of her hos­pi­tal bed to help Premier Mark McGowan of­fi­cially get drilling started for Perth’s next ma­jor tun­nel and rail­way.

They launched the first of two 600-tonne tun­nel-bor­ing machines at High Wy­combe, the site of the fu­ture For­rest­field train sta­tion and the start of the 8km un­der­ground rail link to the air­port and the Mid­land line at Bayswa­ter.

The 130m-long ma­chine was named af­ter Grace, who is un­der­go­ing treat­ment for leukaemia at PMH. Her class­mates nom­i­nated her be­cause she was the tough­est per­son they knew.

The $1.86 bil­lion For­rest­field-Air­port link will in­clude two tun­nels and sta­tions at For­rest­field, Perth Air­port and Bel­mont.

The bor­ing machines, two of only nine of their kind in the world, 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.

A tun­nelling crew of 18 will over­see the bor­ing op­er­a­tions at any one time.

That num­ber is ex­pected to in­clude five over­seas work­ers on 457 visas, the rea­son for a protest out­side the ma­chine launch by Con­struc­tion, Forestry, Min­ing and En­ergy Union work­ers.

But a State Gov­ern­ment spokesman said the project con­tract was signed un­der the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment and in­ter­na­tional tun­nelling ex­perts would train lo­cal em­ploy­ees, so WA would have a lo­cal work­force for fu­ture tun­nel projects.

“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,” Mr McGowan said.

“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,” Fed­eral Ur­ban In­fra­struc­ture Min­is­ter Paul Fletcher said.

The sec­ond bor­ing ma­chine, called Sandy, will be low­ered into the 12m-deep ‘dive’ struc­ture in Septem­ber to start the sec­ond tun­nel.

Grace McPhee with mum Cather­ine and the Premier.

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