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Decision urged on rail rolling stock

MORE than half of Perth’s metropolitan rail carriages could be privately owned under a proposal being considered by the State Government.

The Government will announce in September whether it will be buying the new rolling stock it needs for its proposed extensions to Perth’s rail network outright, or leasing it from the private sector.

The Government has $390 million to spend on the project.

Between 87 and 108 new carriages are needed to meet the needs of the proposed southern rail link and the northern rail line extension to Clarkson.

Time is running out for the Government if it is to meet its late 2003 deadline for the rail extension to Clarkson.

The contract is due to be let in late September. That will be cutting it fine to fulfil the Government’s promise because it takes about three years for the carriages to be built.

If the Government takes the lease option it is likely a private sector provider will be responsible for designing, building and maintaining the rolling stock.

Perth Urban Rail Development project manager Peter Martinovich said that, instead of buying rolling stock, the Government was looking at buying a service.

“In the leasing process the private sector will be allowed a lot more scope in the design of the rail cars. The Government will just stipulate the outcomes,” he said.

“But if the Government can do it better by buying the rolling stock itself, it will. It comes down to value for money.”

Mr Martinovich said the Government would keep control of the rail network if it chose the leasing option.

He said UK rail authorities had followed a leasing approach for their rolling stock and the Victorian rail system was fully outsourced.

A spokesman for Transport Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the Government had a good chance of coming in under budget on its rolling stock.

Its plan to run the southern rail line directly down the Kwinana Freeway instead of through Kenwick means it will need less rolling stock. Under the old plan, 36 three-carriage sets were required. Now only 29 sets will be needed.

Opposition metropolitan transport spokeswoman Katie Hodson-Thomas said she would prefer the Government to buy the rolling stock outright.

“We want to see whether Labor can show real cost savings if it chooses the leasing option,” Ms Hodson-Thomas said.

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