DIESEL trains could service Ellenbrook by Christmas next year says Swan Chamber of Commerce president Gerry Hanssen but the Department of Transport says the plan’s budget is not realistic.
Mr Hanssen wants the existing freight line to Geraldton available for residents immediately rather than waiting for the Morley-Ellenbrook line proposed under the state government’s Metronet proposal.
“The railway line is already there, it’s been there the past 50 years and it hasn’t been utilised,” he said.
“Within a month, you could have the railway line up and running.”
Mr Hanssen described the amount needed to get diesel trains running as “petty cash” compared to the $700 million needed for the new Morley-Ellenbrook line.
“There’s not a single reason this can’t be done… It frustrates me that nobody wants to listen,” he said.
Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the department was committed to its Metronet plan.
Metronet is a $2.5 billion federal and state government investment that includes the Forrestfield-Airport Link, extension of the Joondalup line to Yanchep, extension of the Armadale line to Byford, the relocation of the Midland station and a new station at Karnup on the Mandurah line.
Ms Saffioti said the Metronet team was undertaking planning for the McGowan Government’s election commitment to build the Morley-Ellenbrook line,” she said.
“The $30m quoted by the Swan Chamber of Commerce would not realistically deliver their proposed project,” she said.
Protections on the Swan Valley, amongst other reasons, would also conflict with the use of the freight line according to a Metronet team spokesman.
“It would not be possible for the Public Transport Authority’s electrified passenger trains to share the same tracks with container freight trains due to differing operational requirements,” he said.
“Unless purchasing a full fleet of new rolling stock, a diesel passenger train service would only be able to operate a low frequency of service that is unlikely to be viewed as a competitive travel option for the community.”
The spokesman said the bus services from Ellenbrook to Whitfords Station or Bassendean Station offered a faster route than the freight line.
According to Mr Hanssen no formal consultation on his plan was necessary but he would coordinate a community forum with residents and businesses in Ellenbrook and surrounding areas.
“I don’t think there’s a single person in Ellenbrook who doesn’t want a rail line… people are asking for it everyday,” he said.
Tender applications for detailed design work of the Morley-
Ellenbrook line have closed while tenders for the planning and concept design
of the new Midland
station and line extension to Bellevue remains open until December 19.
By Claire Ottaviano