Perth-Mandurah rail line on track for group therapy

The WA Government may have shunned widespread consultation in favour of an apparently transport-driven outcome for its proposed $1.2 billion rail link from Perth to Mandurah but it is still attracting a lot of attention from a diverse range of industry sectors.

And that interest is likely to focus on the Perth City Rail Advisory Committee, chaired by Stuart Hicks, which is poised to hand down its report to the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure Alannah MacTiernan this week.The findings of the report will determine the route of the train line through the city centre and the location of the new city train station.

The Government’s proposal has provoked an angry response from a number of industry bodies, claiming the Government did not undertake proper consultation or consider the impact of a new rail line and station on the city.

However, the Government maintains that public consultation can derail exciting projects.

The plan to run the rail line from the Narrows Bridge along the foreshore and under William Street has raised big concerns.

Paul Drechsler, chairman of the Australian Institute of Urban Studies (WA) is also one of nine industry body representatives that were involved in a forum in October 2001 to discuss passenger rail transport in the Perth Central Area.

The forum included representatives from the Australian Property Institute, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (WA), the Institute of Engineers, the Local Government Planners’ Association, the Property Council of Australia, the Royal Australian Institute of Architects and the Royal Australian Planning Institute (WA).

“What we want is for the Minister to undertake more consultation once she’s got the report,” Mr Drechsler said.

“And we want another forum to coincide with the release of the findings of the report.”

It is understood the Perth City Rail Advisory Committee has struggled to arrive at a consensus, delaying its own report.

One of the biggest concerns highlighted by the forum last year was that the proposed north-south railways system does not connect with the existing rail network.

This will result in all the traffic from

the north-south lines delivering passengers to the new railway station, leaving Perth station with one fifth its existing traffic.

“The lines have different rail cars,” Mr Dreschler said. “The new rail cars are faster and, because they’re faster, they need the stations to be further apart and they are three-car sets so the platforms need to be longer.”

It is understood a number of industry organisations feel the proposed route under William Street in the city is the best outcome from a transport perspective but it fails to acknowledge a number of other key issues.

“We all want to see an improvement in the system – we just want to get it right,” Mr Dreschler said. “No consultation is a disaster and that’s what happened here.”

The Minister for Planning and Infrastructure Alannah MacTiernan said consultation on the southwest rail development was bypassed because it’s too time consuming.

“This project has been promised for such a long time, for the last eight years the Government promised and nothing happened,” Ms MacTiernan said. “We felt we had to make a decision. In an ideal world we would not have done it this way.”

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