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WA's foremost public transport expert has proposed an ambitious "ring rail" project that would connect Perth's five existing rail lines and Perth Airport.
The plan - being developed by Professor Peter Newman and researcher Cole Hendrigan of Curtin University's Sustainability Policy Institute - would effectively see two new east-west rail lines from Fremantle in the south and Warwick in the north converge at the airport.
The northern line would start from a new station at the Reid Highway interchange with the Mitchell Freeway and follow the alignment of the Reid and Tonkin highways road reserves.
The northern section would have up to nine stations and would connect with the Midland line at Bayswater station before crossing the Swan River and tunnelling under the airport runways.
The southern section would start at Fremantle and run mostly along existing freight lines from the port, south through Coogee, then east to Kenwick.
It would connect with the Mandurah line at a new station between Murdoch and Cockburn Central stations, and the Armadale line near Kenwick. As many as 16 stations could be built on the southern section.
"This is definitely something that will take some time, it won't happen in the next term (of government) but the detailed studies can be done," Professor Newman said.
"It's a way of joining the city up in a much more sensible way. It's something we do well, putting railways down freeways. We know how to integrate them into the feeder buses."
A draft paper making the case for the project says rail costs between $17 million and $30 million a kilometre to build.
With the southern route using existing freight rail lines, most of the expense would be in new signalling equipment and stations.
The 22km northern section would be more expensive, but the most challenging engineering components would be crossing the Swan River and tunnelling under the airport.
The paper argues building the lines would spur development opportunities around the stations for new dense, walkable neighbourhoods orientated around public transport and cut dependence on cars.
It would also ease pressure on the city's freeways and highways and create much greater flexibility in the rail network.
This article first appeared on au.news.yahoo.com
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