24/10/2013 - 15:39

Kewdale rail project scrapped

24/10/2013 - 15:39

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The state government has changed a key aspect of its metropolitan freight strategy, scrapping one of three rail projects designed to reduce the number of freight trucks servicing Fremantle harbour.

Labor transport spokesman Ken Travers.

The state government has changed a key aspect of its metropolitan freight strategy, scrapping one of three rail projects designed to reduce the number of freight trucks servicing Fremantle harbour.

Transport Minister Troy Buswell announced yesterday that York Civil had been awarded a $31 million contract for another aspect of the strategy – the extension of the North Quay rail terminal at Fremantle harbour.

The rail terminal extension, from 400 metres to 690 metres, is designed to increase capacity, supply chain efficiency and productivity, making rail more competitive as a means of transporting containers.

Mr Buswell said this contract was “part of a suite of strategies aimed at maximising the use of the rail system for container trade”.

However he made no mention of the planned Kewdale intermodal terminal, which would have been used to transfer containers and other freight between trucks and trains.

Labor transport spokesman Ken Travers attacked the government for shelving the intermodal terminal, which he said was an integral part of the strategy.

“The extension of the North Quay rail terminal was originally part of a $54 million integrated supply chain strategy to be completed in 2012, including a new intermodal terminal in the Kewdale/Forrestfield area,” Mr Travers said in a statement.

The government’s decision to discontinue the intermodal project was disclosed in August by the parliamentary secretary to the treasurer James Chown, in response to Mr Travers’ questions, but no reasons were offered.

“After five years of delays the Barnett government has quietly dropped the proposal for the intermodal terminal in the Kewdale/Forrestfield area, even though the project had federal funding,” Mr Travers said today.

He told Business News the federal funding was announced in 2009 as part of a joint federal and state $700 million package for a range of transport projects falling under the title ‘Perth Urban Freight Corridor’.

Mr Travers said the $54 million originated from this funding and was earmarked for the North Quay rail terminal, the intermodal terminal at Kewdale-Forrestfield and a railway passing loop at Spearwood, which was also going ahead.

Mr Travers said the North Quay rail terminal was two years behind schedule and its budget had blown out by 60 per cent.

Earlier estimates for the North Quay rail terminal listed the cost at $19.4 million.

Work on the Kewdale-Forrestfield intermodal terminal appears to have stalled after initial works started five years ago.

In mid 2008, the Carpenter government awarded North Sydney company Strategic Design and Development $105,600 to carry out a study on the Kewdale-Forrestfield intermodal terminal.

In late 2009, the Barnett government advertised for and received three expressions of interest to construct the facility from Patrick Container Ports, Intermodal Group and QR Limited, now called Aurizon.

All three companies were found to be capable of delivering, but the project never progressed to tender.

Mr Travers claimed the Barnett government had also given up on achieving its target of 30 per cent of Fremantle containers travelling by rail by 2013, from its current 14 per cent share.

“I’ve asked him in parliament and estimates. They now refer to it as an aspirational target as opposed to a target. The bottom line is they simply haven’t achieved it,” Mr Travers told Business News.

Mr Buswell’s office has been approached for comment.

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