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Councils in Perth's south have united in a push to bring a trackless tram or light rail line to South Street connecting the Murdoch and Fremantle train stations.
The proposal aims to slash commute times along the busy stretch of road, connect the university to the centre of Fremantle and free up underused land along the corridor to build 12,000 new homes.
The rail line would run along South Street from Bull Creek Shopping Centre to Barry Marshall Parade across the Kwinana Freeway bridge, taking a detour to Murdoch University before re-entering South Street to make its way to Fremantle Station through the Cappuccino Strip.
The 12-kilometre ride would include 15 stops in St Ives, Kardinya, O'Connor, Hilton, Beaconsfield and Fremantle Hospital, and reduce commute times to 26 minutes.
The proposal is being championed by the South West Group, which represents the interests of the councils of Fremantle, East Fremantle, Cockburn, Melville, Kwinana and Rockingham.
The group has teamed up with international engineering and design firm Arup to develop a proof of concept and is calling on the WA government to include the proposal in future stages of Metronet.
It also wants funding towards a detailed case study to be included in the 2021/22 state budget.
The proposal promises to address urban sprawl, bring investment to the area, and act as a "catalyst" for higher-density residential and commercial development", accommodating 6500 homes in the short-term and 5500 additional dwellings in later development stages.
The South West Metropolitan Region, which includes the councils represented by the South West Group, is tipped to become one of the fastest growing regions in WA, trumping metropolitan Perth.
Government estimates predict more than 16,000 additional residents and tens of thousands of workers will move into the area by 2036, with Murdoch and Fremantle to bear most of the brunt.
The proposed line linking Bull Creek to Fremantle would feature 18 stops along 12 kilometres of rail.
The area surrounding Murdoch University and Fiona Stanley Hospital is also forecast to become the largest employment hub outside of the Perth CBD, home to 35,000 workers and 44,000 students.
"Clearly, Perth is not meeting its targets in terms of its public transport share nor its urban infill targets, and needs to reverse its progression as a car dominated and sprawled city," the group said.
"This document shows we can marry a strategic land-use intensification plan with reasonable development density around well-considered nodes.
"Noting the Federal Government’s support of an equivalent proposal from City of Stirling, we ask that it consider providing comparable support for this proposal."
Murdoch University and WA property developers Hesperia and Stockland have swung in behind the proposal, arguing the rail network was "the missing link" between the university and Fremantle.
Rail has long been on the City of Fremantle's radar, with plans for a hybrid light rail network through the city centre flagged in the council's Freo2029 report, released in 2018.
The South West Group has also been a strong supporter of light rail, listing a Murdoch-Fremantle link and a Rockingham circular route as a top priority in its pitch to the government in 2017.
The initial Metronet vision touted by the McGowan Labor opposition in 2013 also included plans for a circular route linking Fremantle to the eastern suburbs with stations in Coogee, South Lake and Nicholson Road. The east-west link was scrapped from later designs.
This article first appeared on www.watoday.com.au
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