Passenger Rail Study
Warren-Blackwood Economic Alliance
The Department of Planning and Infrastructure’s draft Passenger Rail Study for extending passenger rail to Manjimup and Busselton, appears to abandon the Bunbury to Manjimup option at an early stage.
This appears to be due to the perceived cost of infrastructure and the high numbers required for annual patronage, whilst the concept of a service to Busselton continues to appear as a medium to long term option, even though the annual patronage numbers are the same as the Bunbury to Manjimup option, and no infrastructure exists beyond Capel.
The study only focuses on use of the existing Australind train to provide services, but other options are available, relatively cheaply, and could be implemented far sooner than the Bunbury to Busselton option.
A mixed freight and passenger service could be established between Bunbury and Manjimup if the current line was upgraded.
The cost of upgrading the Bunbury to Manjimup line to a speed of 100 km/h is $30 million.
However, the cost of upgrading, reinstalling and building a new station on a Bunbury to Busselton line would be $144 million.
Upgrading the Bunbury to Manjimup freight line would also alleviate some of the existing problems between the freight/passenger vehicle mix on the South Western Highway, which has been identified as causing 30 per cent of WA’s road fatalities.
Legislation under consideration to introduce a user-pays system for water accessed from bores and dams by the mining and agricultural sector would seem to be taxing regional water users.
This is inequitable with the metropolitan system where bore users are encouraged to use ‘caught’ water free of charge with a subsidy to put in the infrastructure.
Community consultation groups set up by the Minister for the Environment seem to consist mainly of metropolitan interest groups.
It is a matter of urgency that representation from regions that will be affected by the proposed legislation be included.
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