Report points to rail profit

THE State Government could profit from sinking the rail line between Perth station and Mitchell Freeway, according to cost assessments and land valuations commissioned by the Perth City Council.

Figures reveal that a $15 million profit could be made by sinking the railway and developing the land made available, after sharing the spoils with private landowners.

The proposal is part of a major campaign to remove the barrier between the city and Northbridge.

A soon-to-be-released report by the Perth City Rail Advisory Committee shows that an investment of $70 million would be required to sink both railway lines to the Roe Street underpass. This in turn would free-up 13 hectares of central railway and derelict land.

Proposed new roadways across the land would link King Street to Lake Street and Milligan Street to Fitzgerald Street to create three main parcels of land.

John Garmony and Associates valued the 10.2 hectares available for redevelopment at $110 million if the line is sunk where the Fremantle railway line and the South West Metropolitan Railway join and travel to the Perth City Train Station.

The site would have an estimated resale value of $85 million, once $25 million was paid to the owner of the Entertainment Centre site, the Seven Network (see story below).

It’s understood the report’s cost estimates are based on Perth Urban Rail Development Committee reports and engineering and cost assessments commissioned by the City of Perth.

Council’s Railway’s Committee chair Bert Tudori said the extra $70 million investment would be more than recouped by the State Government.

“The Government made a profit in Subiaco, they would make a profit in Perth,” Cr Tudori said.

Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the Subiaco redevelopment had returned a profit, however this did not mean it would automatically work in Perth.

Ms MacTiernan said the Keating Federal Government had ploughed large amounts of cross subsidy money into the Subiaco development.

“We have already made a commitment that if we can do it in a cost neutral way we would do it,” she said.

“We have no motive not to do it.”

Ms MacTiernan said it was unusual that the City of Perth had collected information independently when it was already in a working partnership with the State Government examining the issue. Lord Mayor Dr Peter Natrass, Cr Lisa Scaffidi and City of Perth technical staff are members of the Perth Urban Rail Development Committee.

Cr Tudori said this was the last chance of ever lowering the railway and unifying Northbridge and the CBD.

Under the current Government proposal the William Street tunnel would emerge at Lake Street or at Milligan Street if additional funds were found.

According to the report, anything less than a full continuation of the tunnel to Roe Street underpass would make it near impossible to sink the railway lines at a later date.

Cr Tudori said while profit should not be the prime motivator for the city renewal project, it seemed to be the case in this instance.

The City of Perth plans to present the report to the Government and push for the project to become a joint State-city initiative with the city pouring in a substantial financial contribution.

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