Perth’s $1.9 billion Forrestfield-Airport rail line finally set to open after years of delays

Western Australia’s long-awaited airport train connection will finally open in October, two years after its initially scheduled deadline.

The McGowan government on Tuesday confirmed the $1.9 billion Perth Airport rail link will start full operations on October 10.

It will provide passengers with an 18-minute journey between the airport and the Perth CBD for a $5 one-way fare.

The line will service 85 percent of flights on any given day, with the first train to leave Perth just after 5am and the last to depart about midnight.

Announced by the former Barnett government in 2013, the project faced problems, including worker injuries and the flooding of a tunnel after construction began three years later.

Western Australia's long-awaited airport train connection will finally open in October, two years after its initially scheduled deadline.
Camera IconWestern Australia’s long-awaited airport train connection will finally open in October, two years after its initially scheduled deadline. Credit: Michael Wilson/The West Australian
The McGowan government on Tuesday confirmed the $1.9 billion Perth Airport rail link will start full operations on October 10.
Camera IconThe McGowan government on Tuesday confirmed the $1.9 billion Perth Airport rail link will start full operations on October 10. Credit: Michael Wilson/The West Australian

Labor and material shortages and problems with mobile phone black spots have since led to further delays.

“It has been a challenging project,” Transport Minister Rita Saffioti told reporters.

“We’ve tunnelled under the river, we’ve tunnelled under airport runways… we’ve seen it through and I’m very proud to have completed this project and to see it in operation very soon.”

The new airport station is located near terminals one and two. A free shuttle bus service will take passengers to the other two terminals.

Ms Saffioti said the operating cost would be about $42 million a year, but this would be offset by revenue determined by passenger numbers.

About 20,000 passengers are predicted to use the rail line each day, increasing to 29,000 by 2032.

Meanwhile, a planned 18-month shutdown of the Armadale train line to facilitate works on Labor’s Metronet train network will be pushed back to begin in late 2023.

Six years after construction began, the $1.9 billion Perth Airport rail link is set to commence full operations from October 10.
Camera IconSix years after construction began, the $1.9 billion Perth Airport rail link is set to commence full operations from October 10. Credit: Michael Wilson/The West Australian
About 20,000 passengers are predicted to use the rail line each day, increasing to 29,000 by 2032.
Camera IconAbout 20,000 passengers are predicted to use the rail line each day, increasing to 29,000 by 2032. Credit: Michael Wilson/The West Australian

Ms Saffioti said it was necessary given workforce and supply chain issues, and to allow more time for expanded level-crossing removal works.

This would also ensure passenger disruptions were limited to one AFL season and avoid a clash with the Women’s World Cup soccer tournament next year.

The Byford rail extension and Thornlie-Cockburn link are expected to open in 2025 once the new elevated Armadale line is operating.

Premier Mark McGowan said future delays to Metronet projects could not be ruled out given the pressures associated with WA’s booming economy.

“We’re doing our best to deliver 18 separate projects and local rail-car manufacturing,” he said.

“We have supply chain difficulties, we have the war in Ukraine, we have the COVID hangover.

“We’ll do our best to get them done as soon as possible.”

Opposition spokesman Tjorn Sibma said the delayed opening was “little to celebrate”.

“All it does is highlight the poor project management on works that make up 45 percent of the government’s total asset investment program,” he said.

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