29/07/2016 - 12:15

Nalder gets digging in transport plan

29/07/2016 - 12:15

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A series of new rail and road tunnels, including a CBD train loop and a line from Stirling to Murdoch could be needed as Perth's population grows to 3.5 million, according to Transport Minister Dean Nalder, as he unveiled the state government's long term transport blueprint this morning.

Will future state governments stick to the plan?

A series of new rail and road tunnels, including a CBD train loop and a line from Stirling to Murdoch, could be needed as Perth's population grows to 3.5 million, Transport Minister Dean Nalder said as he unveiled the state government's long-term transport blueprint this morning.

One tunnel, a heavy railway line to Morley that could then be extended to Wanneroo and beyond, looked possible as an election committment, with the Morley radial line to later be extended to Wanneroo and eventually link up with the Joondalup line to ease capacity in that corridor.

Road tunnels could include a freeway from Stock Road under the Swan River and Nedlands to link to Stirling, and a second from near the Causeway to link to Berwick Street in Victoria Park and travel under Riverside Drive to Mounts Bay Road, Mr Nalder told a Committee for Economic Development of Australia breakfast.

The Stirling station to Murdoch station tunnel would carry a rail line via the University of Western Australia and QE2 hospital, while the light rail “knowledge arc” connecting Curtin University and UWA remained a feature, as it has in previous plans.

Additional above-ground links would be a light rail from Glendalough station to Scarborough Beach and rapid bus in Ellenbrook, with a Joondalup line rail extension to Yanchep and a line linking Thornlie to Cockburn possible in the next decade.

The new north-south routes would dramatically ease congestion, according to Planning and Transport Research Centre chairman Fred Affleck, while Mr Nalder cited how a single accident on the Mitchell Freeway could throw the entire network into chaos.

The rail blueprint

Morley line
Mr Nalder said he hoped planning for the Morley rail option would get underway as soon as possible, but he would first need approval from cabinet.

“Moving forward, mass transit or heavy rail will need to play a greater role getting people into the CBD and out,” he said.

“We do see (the Morley rail line) as an important project.

“The level of planning work will take some time around that Morley solution.

“I’m keen to get that planning work going now as quickly as possible.

“That involves approval processes through cabinet that i’ll need to take.

“My preference is ... that we push ahead in front of the election; we should get going on it.

“The advice that I have is that it’d take at least two years to finalise the planning for it.”

Professor Affleck said a radial line to Morley should be a priority among the elements detailed in the Transport @ 3.5 million plan.

“It’s the one major activity centre in the whole of the inner ring of Perth, which is not at the moment served by a major transport link,’’ he said.

“When you look at MAX light rail versus what we’ve (proposed), which is a heavier rail system in an underground tunnel, that reflects the fact that there’s a lot of people in that corridor who want to travel into Perth.

“It’s beyond the capacity of light rail.”

The proposal comes almost four years after the planned route for the MAX light rail to Morley and Mirrabooka was revealed by the state government, a project later delayed due to funding issues.

Mr Nalder said he’d taken the extra time to thoroughly rethink the project.

“I had some real concerns that we were mixing the urbanisation aspect of light rail with a mass transit requirement for the outer suburbs,” he said.

“I believe we’re coming up with a better outcome for people in the northern suburbs which will be the combination of a direct bus route … as well as an underground rail solution.”

Mr Nalder said there was a lack of capacity at Perth central station and on the Midland line for Labor’s Metronet proposal to build spur lines, while a new underground city station could be part of his Morley line plan.

The plan is now out for consultation, with Mr Nalder stressing that it was a blueprint modeling anticipated future demand, with future governments to determine business cases for individual projects.

Reaction

Civil Contractors Federation WA chief executive Jeff Miller said one important part of the plan was that it was designed based on population growth, not particular times.

“Transport @ 3.5 Million strikes a good balance between private and public transport,” he said.

“As the plan states, increasing the use of public transport is critical.

“It envisages 1.4 million public transport trips per day by the time Perth’s population is 3.5 million – more than three times the current usage.

“It’s important to note, however, that private trips in cars are also expected to increase markedly – from 3.6 million to 6.3 million per day.

“That’s why continued investment in our road network is vital, and why projects such as Roe 8 are needed to keep traffic flowing and to ensure our city is productive and efficient.

“We welcome the responsible use of user charging envisaged in the plan, where those paying are sharing in productivity gains and value increases – creating a win-win.”

Property Council WA executive director Lino Iacomella said his sector had been crying out for infrastructure planning that linked into planning for housing and employment.

“Key features in the new transport plan that are supported by the property sector, include the focus on connecting activity centres in suburban Perth; and tunneling as a cost effective method to create improved transport connections and promote infill development, while decreasing traffic congestion in urban areas,” he said.

“However, the timing of projects in the plan hinges on when the population will reach certain milestones but the industry would like more certainty to support investment decisions.

“Funding is a major issue affecting the feasibility of the projects outlined in the state government’s transport plan.

“The final transport plan should include an opportunity for tolls to fund road infrastructure.

“The use of value capture to fund potential transport projects is a concern for the property industry, particularly if it is applied before the infrastructure is in operation.

“Taxing property value uplift should be looked at cautiously by the state government as the industry has already been dealt severe land tax increases in recent years.”

Opposition leader Mark McGowan said Western Australians would be sceptical of the Liberal Party’s transport plans, particularly after the axing of MAX light rail and the Ellenbrook rail line.

“The Liberals have been in office for eight long years,” he said.

"They’ve broken or failed to deliver every major transport promise they’ve ever made.

“Now, with an election approaching they claim to have a plan – give me a break!

“Sorry Mr Barnett. But it’s a bit late to start claiming you care about transport now.

“After all their broken promises, the Liberals are now giving us a bunch of lines on a map.

“It’s a fairy tale document.

“There are no costings, no firm commitments, just aspirations.

“Only Labor has a credible plan – and one we have always stuck to – Metronet.

“It’s a real plan, it’s costed, affordable and achievable.

“We take public transport seriously.

“We’ve done it before and we’ll do it again.

“Only Labor actually builds what we say we’ll build - the Joondalup Line, the Mandurah Line, the Perth Underground, and the Forrest Highway.”

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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