Doubts over future of Perth’s rail projects

Doubts over future of Perth’s rail projects : The futures of the planned airport rail link and MAX light rail system are unknown now that federal funding commitments do not meet the expectations of the West Australian government.

The state government had hoped federal funds would cover half the $1.8 billion cost of the MAX light rail system and 80 per cent of the $1.89 billion for the airport rail link.

Tuesday night’s Federal budget allocated $500 million across 10 years to help in the delivery of a major public transport project for Perth.

The budget stipulated that either the Perth Light Rail project or the construction of a new link to the city’s airport would be funded.

It is understood that the Federal Government will decide which project that money goes to once presented with further detail.

On Tuesday, Mr Barnett admitted he could not guarantee that both transport projects would be completed by 2018 as per the initial timeline.

Following the announcement of the budget he said the rail line to the airport was most likely to receive the federal money.

“Let’s say for example that the rail to the airport comes first, we’d prefer the $500million to go into that at the time of its construction,” Mr Barnett said.

“The light rail is likely to follow on a little behind that and therefore that’s another funding issue for another day.”

Mr Barnett said the link to the airport was “probably the easier project to do.”

“We are not dropping our commitment, the reality is on some of those projects and probably particularly the light rail there are some very complex engineering’s and issues to be resolved, I suspect that will take a little longer for that reason alone, on the rail project to the airport it is a relatively simple project.”

He said he hoped there could be further federal funding committed to the projects in the future but Mr Barnett may be on the lookout for private investors to fund his transport promises.

Curtin University’s professor Peter Newman previously told WAtoday.com.au that the Premier would have to consider this option if his expectations for Federal funding were not met.

“Almost every other industry we call for it – even building hospitals. It just hasn’t happened in urban rail,” he said.

Mr Newman said it was “entirely feasible” for the rail projects to be completed by 2018 with the assistance of private investors.

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Source : watoday

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