Engineering, Passenger Rail

Turnbull tips in funding for Metronet

Perth B-series train. Credit: Creative Commons / DBZ2313

Malcolm Turnbull has allowed the WA Government to reallocate $1.2 billion in Federal funding, originally intended for the Perth Freight Link toll road, to a number of other road and rail projects.

Turnbull joined WA Premier Mark McGowan on Sunday to announce a $2.3 billion WA Infrastructure Package, combining $1.6 billion in Federal funding with $745 million from the state.

The majority of the money comes from $1.86 billion in reallocated funds – $1.2 billion Federal and $660 million State – originally intended for the Perth Freight Link toll road.

McGowan cancelled PFL when WA Labor won the state election earlier this year, and immediately signalled his intentions to use the federal money allocated to the PFL, for his party’s urban rail revitalisation program, Metronet, instead.

The Turnbull Government initially rejected this, saying the money was for the PFL, and could not be reallocated.

But the prime minister, apparently having changed his tune, was on hand to promote Metronet on Sunday.

“We recognise the priorities of the new WA State Government and will work with them to deliver high quality outcomes for Western Australia,” Turnbull said.

“In particular, the State Government’s METRONET initiative fits in well with my Government’s Smart Cities agenda, and we will continue to work with the Premier and his team to help make it happen.”

McGowan noted the $1.2 billion allocated to Metronet work in the package was subject to positive business cases being made.

But he was sure to point out that $700 million of the Federal funding in the roads and rail package was specifically allocated to Metronet itself.

“This package will deliver a significant jobs boost across Western Australia,” McGowan said.

“We’re getting on with the job and delivering on our promises to the people of Western Australia, delivering new job creating and congestion busting projects.”

The rest of the joint funding package will go towards over a dozen road upgrades, along with a pair of level crossing removals on the Armadale Rail Line, as one of the first pieces of work on the Metronet program.

The first major Metronet projects include the extension of the Yanchep and Thornlie lines.