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Federal WA Liberals are pressuring for cash to build the rail link between Thornlie and Cockburn as part of the Turnbull Government’s planned Budget borrowing binge to fund big infrastructure projects.
Canberra is scrambling to identify big ticket projects that could be paid for with “good debt” after Premier Mark McGowan shut down work on the Perth Freight Link following his election victory.
Senator Linda Reynolds has put forward the 17.5km rail link as a “shovel-ready” project that could deliver a much-needed economic and employment boost. She has written to Federal Infrastructure Minister Darren Chester advocating for partial Federal funding for the project, as well as calling on Mr McGowan to prioritise it.
“This rail connection would link the outer south and east metro-politan region of Perth, both of which have high concentrations of skilled workers, as well as vocational training centres and fabrication, manufacturing and industrial centres,” Senator Reynolds told The Weekend West. “This connection would also enhance access to the Australian Marine Complex, home of WA’s thriving shipbuilding industry and our growing defence sector.”
While advisory body Infrastructure Australia identified the Freight Link as the top priority project for WA, it is also a fan of the Thornlie-Cockburn link to help ease congestion in the fast growing southern suburbs.
The State Government included the link as part of its Metronet rail blueprint, estimating it would cost $474 million to build with a 2019 start — although some believe this could be sooner because much of the design work was done several years ago. WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said last night the Government would submit its business case to Canberra by July.
“We have committed to commencing in 2019 and have started talking to key stakeholders such as Brookfield Rail, who the Government needs to work with on the project,” she said.
Infrastructure Australia has also nominated reducing congestion in Perth’s north-west corridor as a priority.
This article first appeared on thewest.com.au
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