It’s understood concerns have also been raised about whether the tunnel’s exhaust fans, which are designed to remove smoke in the event of an underground fire, are fit for purpose. The fan system is set to be tested during live emergency exercises inside the tunnel over the coming week, but the State Government denied they planned to order replacement parts from overseas. Mobile phone coverage blackspots are one of the reasons behind the latest delay to the $1.9 billion airport rail link, which is already two years late and still has no opening date.
Blackspots in mobile phone coverage are one of the causes of the most recent postponement of the $1.9 billion Forrestfield-Airport Link, which has been delayed twice previously and still has no opening date. The West Australian has been informed that due to issues found during the testing and commissioning phase, trains won’t be running to and from Perth Airport for “months” to come. This contains numerous mobile phone reception gaps in the tunnel running underneath the airport and Swan River, which may call for modifications to the telecommunications network to be made.
Mobile phone coverage blackspots are one of the reasons behind the latest delay to the $1.9 billion airport rail link, which is already two years late and still has no opening date. Credit: Ross Swanborough/The West Australian. Opposition Metronet spokesman Tjorn Sibma said the public had been “kept in the dark” about the causes of the latest delay and called for transparency from Transport Minister Rita Saffioti. The Minster needs to stop hiding the facts,” Mr Sibma said.
“If required, modifications to telecommunication infrastructure will be made to ensure there are no gaps in coverage. Mobile phone coverage will be available to all passengers from the day of opening,” Ms Saffioti’s spokesman said. He confirmed the exhaust fans were still being tested and said there were no current plans to order replacement parts from overseas. The revised opening date would be set once the current phase was almost finished, at which point driver training would begin.
“We deserve to know how services will commence safely and efficiently on the Forrestfield Airport Link and by when. This project is already delayed by over two years and I fear at this rate, it may not start services this side of Christmas.” Ms Saffioti has presided over three airport link delays, pushing the estimated completion date out first to mid-2021, then the first half of 2022 and now only saying it’ll open sometime this year. Her office said ensuring mobile phone coverage through the entire tunnel would be essential and formed a critical part of the testing and commissioning phase, which began four months ago.
The train line was announced by the Barnett government all the way back in 2013 and construction started in late 2016 — almost six years and two State elections ago. It was incorporated into Metronet when Labor came to power in 2017, but since then has been beset by a series of issues, including flooding of the tunnels and serious injuries to workers building the project.