04/05/2020 - 12:01

Morley-Ellenbrook line rated a marginal project

04/05/2020 - 12:01

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The state government’s $2 billion Morley-Ellenbrook rail project has been given the go-ahead from Infrastructure Australia, though the national body questioned some of the benefits and found they would just outweigh the costs.

Morley-Ellenbrook line rated a marginal project
Rita Saffioti says the state's rail projects will form part of its economic recovery. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

The state government’s $2 billion Morley-Ellenbrook rail project has been given the go-ahead from Infrastructure Australia, though the national body questioned some of the benefits and found they would just outweigh the costs.

The announcement comes several weeks after the national advisory ranked some of Western Australia’s other projects ahead of the proposed Morley-Ellenbrook line, including regional road upgrades and Perth’s water security.

In a report released yesterday, IA concluded the Morley-Ellenbrook project has only marginal benefits.

“The results presented in the business case indicate that the preferred option has a marginal economic, social and environmental case,” IA stated.

The state government’s business case estimated that total costs of $2.11 billion (including construction, rolling stock and maintenance over 50 years) would be slightly outweighed by total benefits of $2.32 billion.

This equates to a benefit-cost ratio of 1.10 and a net present value of $208 million.

IA said that if wider economic benefits were included, the benefit-cost ratio increased to 1.20 with a net present value of $430 million.

IA said it identified several areas in the project’s economic analysis which may slightly overstate its benefits, including travel time value parameters not sufficiently supported by local evidence, and a high growth rate for long-term benefits.

“On balance, Infrastructure Australia supports the project because it shows strategic merit, appropriate deliverability planning and benefits that will be close to its costs,” the IA report concluded.

The capital cost of building the rail line has not been specified as tendering is underway, but has been estimated at roughly $1 billion.

The overall Morley-Ellenbrook project also includes a major upgrade of Bayswater train station and the Tonkin Gap project, which have been budgeted separately.

Premier Mark McGowan yesterday said the proposed 21-kilometre rail would be a game-changer for Perth’s north-eastern suburbs.

The line will connect the Ellenbrook town centre to the Perth CBD, with train stations to be built at Ellenbrook, Whiteman Park, Malaga, Noranda and Morley.

A new station is also planned for Bennett Springs East.

Early works on the project are under way, including new car parks being built at the nearby Meltham and Ashfield train stations, as part of the $235 million Bayswater station upgrade.

Bayswater station will connect the Midland line, Forrestfield-Airport link and Morley-Ellenbrook line.

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the state’s rail projects would be a part of its economic recovery post COVID-19, providing opportunities for local businesses and boosting local jobs.

Two consortia, separately led by Laing O'Rourke and CPB Contractors, were recently shortlisted to build the Morley-Ellenbrook line, with the contract expected to be awarded later this year.

Main construction works are due to start in 2021.

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