Western Australia’s Transport Minister, Troy Buswell, has announced proposals for a new light rail network linking the inner northern suburbs of Perth with the CBD.
With Perth’s population set to reach 2.7 million by 2031 and the number of people using public transport expected to double by then, a suitable infrastructure solution is critical for the city’s development.
It is hoped that a new 22-kilometre rail line, which is expected to carry 35,000 passengers per day by 2031, will ease these concerns. The plans, Buswell says, will transform the city, with the minister working hard behind the scenes to ensure they get delivered.
Despite the optimism in some corners, however, others remain unconvinced.
Some have lambasted the cost of the line – it is expected to cost in excess of $1 billion, though those figures will not be confirmed until 2014 at the earliest, while others are skeptical over whether the government will actually follow through with the plans after promises to build transport infrastructure – including a train station in South Perth and a rail line to Ellenbrook – have fallen flat to date.
Opposition transport spokesman Ken Travers was among those questioning whether the government would complete the project.
“They haven’t built their commitments from the last election [including the Ellenbrook rail line],” he said. “How can you believe they’re going to build a light rail in six years time, by which stage they’ll be in their third term.”
Premier Colin Barnett, however, seems adamant that the line is on the front burner. He has lauded the plan, calling it “bold” and a “major step forward” for public transport in Perth.
“It’s probably the greatest advancement since the electrification of the Perth rail network and the [construction of the] Mandurah line,” he said.
Buswell said the light rail system would do more than simply ease traffic congestion, suggesting it would bring about significant changes to land use along that transport corridor and inject “a real dynamic” into the city.
The transit announcement does not come with any funding on top of the $11 million previously put towards the initial planning, but it commits the government to a timeline to complete the project. Buswell hopes the federal government will also contribute beyond the $4 million it has earmarked for the project so far.
Construction of the initial line is due to begin in 2016 and take two years to complete.