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THE McGowan Labor Government expects the $1.2 billion earmarked for the cancelled Perth Freight Link will remain in next month’s Federal Budget to fund its Metronet plan.
Transport and Planning Minister Rita Saffioti’s confidence comes as planning for the rail expansion forges ahead.
There has been a major rethink ordered for elements of the Forrestfield-Airport Line.
This includes running earlier train services to cater for fly-in, fly-out workers, redrawing plans for the new Forrestfield station precinct and flagging a redevelopment of Bayswater station.
Ms Saffioti will today open the new Aubin Grove station on the Mandurah line.
She said the business cases for the Yanchep rail extension and Thornlie-Cockburn link would be submitted to Infrastructure Australia in July.
She said IA and Federal Government departments and ministers had demonstrated “willingness” to work with the new State Government on its railway vision.
“Our expectation is that the $1.2 billion will be kept in the Federal Budget,” Ms Saffioti said.
“My view is that they understand WA is very angry about the GST situation and to then rip out another $1.2 billion would have a significant impact on the State Budget in the short term.”
There were concerns the airport link, which opens in 2020 and will provide a 20-minute journey from Forrestfield to the CBD, wouldn’t get FIFO workers to Perth Airport in time for their early flights.
Ms Saffioti said she now wanted the airport services to run earlier than the Transperth network’s typical 5am start to maximise its use.
“To be honest, for an airport line to really deliver the outcome, you’ve got to cater to its potential users and FIFO would be a key part of that, in particular in that early-morning time bracket. To make this work, you’ve got to study why people would use the airport link rather than drive,” she said.
Ms Saffioti said a priority was to integrate the new stations with residential and business development, starting with a rethink of the use of land around Forrestfield sta- tion.
The previous government’s plan for the railway station, which is near a freight-marshalling yard, was for 2500 carpark spaces and a bus interchange. Ms Saffioti said she was now keen for a multi-storey carpark with the potential for commercial opportunities such as shops, gyms and childcare centres
“I’ve asked the Public Transport Authority and Planning Department to stop what they are currently doing and to relook at the entire precinct to see whether we can activate that precinct a lot earlier than anticipated,” she said.
Labor has pledged $40 million to an upgrade of Bayswater station and town centre. There has been a local campaign to sink the station but Ms Saffioti she’d been advised it would be “very, very expensive”.
Ms Saffioti said the Metronet timeline had not slipped since Labor took power and work would start in this first term of government on planning and costing a light-rail system. She said a route between Curtin University in Bentley and the University of WA in Crawley, potentially linking North Perth and Subiaco, had support.
This article first appeared on www.perthnow.com.au
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