Tunnel puts bite in budget

EVEN though it is a more direct route, the proposed rail line from Mandurah to Perth will cost more than the previous Government’s southern rail proposal via Kenwick.

The Kenwick route was expected to cost more than $1.1 billion, while the Kwinana Freeway route will cost $1.2 billion.

By going directly down the freeway the Government saves about $320 million.

About $93 million is saved on the Mandurah to Kenwick link.

Because the Government is opting for rail instead of extending bus lanes down the freeway it will save $70 million there.

It is doing away with the rail loop through the Rockingham CBD and saves $70 million there.

The direct route will require fewer rail cars – about a $79 million saving and $8 million of extra works will no longer be needed.

But the tunnel required at William Street through the bowels of the CBD will be expensive.

There are two main tunnelling options – either creating a trench as was used to create the Graham Farmer Freeway tunnel – or boring through the earth.

The trench option will cause considerable disruption to the CBD. The boring option could prove difficult if the watertable is high enough.

Perth Urban Rail Development project manager Peter Martinovich said the Government had no idea how it would go about the tunnel.

“We’re doing scoping studies to identify who the main stakeholders are and who will be affected,” Mr Martinovich said.

“The major issue will be the exact location of the underground station. That location will have profound effects. The town planning objectives are very important.”

Mr Martinovich said the Government was choosing to put together a masterplan even though it meant the rail link would not be completed until late 2006. The previous Government’s proposal would have been in operation from Rockingham by 2005.

He said the lack of a master plan had caused projects such as Brisbane’s light rail network to be thrown out as costs ballooned beyond expectation.

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