'Let them ride buses brigade' wildly out of touch - Public Transport Authority of Western Australia
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'Let them ride buses brigade' wildly out of touch


Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan has rejected the absurd claims published in a newspaper advertisement this morning, regarding the New MetroRail Project.

"The wild inaccuracy of the claims demonstrate a complete failure to understand the economics of the project, let alone the social benefit to the State," Ms MacTiernan said.

The Minister said the claims, made by anti-rail lobbyists Willy Packer and Peter Bruechle, were wrong in every respect.

"The facts are so distorted, it's impossible to believe their concerns are genuine," she said.

"We have made a decision. We know this project is the best way forward for our city and we will not be deterred by this mindless campaign.

"Economic analysis shows our underdeveloped public transport system and our over-dependence on the motor car actually costs the economy $1.7billion annually.

"The propaganda in today's advertisement is reminiscent of the arguments raised by opponents of the Northern Suburbs Railway in the early 1990s and those supporting the closure of the Fremantle line in the late 1970s - arguments which clearly did not stand the test of time."

Interestingly, in April 2002, Mr Bruechle put forward a proposal to the State Government outlining an alternate route into the city for the Southern Suburbs Railway linking Mandurah to Perth.

In Mr Bruechle's report he said:

'It is widely accepted that there is a requirement for a passenger rail line that will service the southern suburbs … Such a line will help relieve congestion on the heavily laden southern freeway system … Because the vehicular traffic coming from the south will be lessened it will obviously have a beneficial effect on the environment.'

He also said:
'… there are good reasons for selecting the route up the Kwinana Freeway.'

"In light of this complete about-face, Mr Bruechle cannot be taken seriously," Ms MacTiernan said.

"Regardless of the agendas of these two men, the State Government will not be deterred from its commitment to deliver a world class public transport system and a liveable, efficient city to the people of Western Australia."

Below is a fact sheet responding to the claims made in this morning's advertisement.

Fact Sheet responding to claims made by Mr Packer and Mr Breuchle

Claim - Under the Court Government, the Perth to Mandurah Railway would have cost $1billion - under the Gallop Government it will cost $1.5billion.

The facts - The New MetroRail Project is more than just a railway to Mandurah. The project will effectively double the size of the urban passenger rail system and includes:

  • extension of the Northern Suburbs Railway to Clarkson;
  • a spur line to Thornlie;
  • enhancements to the Armadale line between Perth and Kenwick;
  • the Southern Suburbs Railway; and
  • ninety-three new electric railcars.

The Southern Suburbs Railway component will cost $1.059billion, not $1.5billion as claimed by Mr Packer, and will service areas including South Perth, Melville, Cockburn, Kwinana, Rockingham and Mandurah.

It is also important to note the previous Government's budget was in 1998-99 dollar values. The New MetroRail Project is in 2006-07 dollar values.

Claim - The Mandurah Railway is predicted to lose this State over $160million each year, of which $84million is interest on the $1.5billion debt.

The facts - Perth spends 13 per cent of its local GDP on passenger transport (private and public). This is a total of $4.7billion annually, of which only $0.25billion is for public transport.

However, other comparably sized Western cities are spending only 7-8 per cent - the difference is clearly due to the high level of private car dependence in Perth.

If a more public transport oriented Perth could reduce its percentage of GDP to about eight per cent, we would save about $1.7billion annually on total transport costs - $200million more than the entire New MetroRail project budget.

The debt associated with the New MetroRail Project will be $1.2billion, not $1.5billion, as $300million from the privatisation of Alinta Gas is being put into the project. Interest payments will be approximately $74million in 2007-08 and reduce from each year onwards.

The operating cost of the project will be approximately $23million per year.

It is important to note that the previous Government's Kenwick Deviation would have cost approx $15million per year more to operate as a result of requiring 24 more railcars than the New MetroRail Project.

Claim - This railway is only being built for the 45,000 people who live in Mandurah.

The facts - The Southern Suburbs Railway and the Thornlie Spur are expected to carry 28,500 people each weekday, not 12,500 as claimed by Mr Packer, when services commence in 2006-07. This is almost 10,000, or 35 per cent, more people than were expected to use the previous Government's Kenwick Deviation.

The current population of Western Australia is 1.8 million with 1.5 million living in the metropolitan region.

The population of the metropolitan region is expected to grow by an additional 700,000, an increase of 50 per cent, by 2031.

The projected population increases of the areas serviced that will be serviced by the NMR Project between 2001 and 2011 are as follows:

Local Government Area

2001 population

2006 population

  2011 population 

South Perth




























The Southern Suburbs Railway will service almost 400,000 people, or a quarter of Perth's population, on commencement in 2006.

Population in the Mandurah/Peel region is growing at over twice the rate of WA as a whole - 3.2 per cent as against 1.5 per cent.

The Mandurah/Peel region has a projected population increase of 136 per cent between 2001 and 2031, compared to a range of 29-72 per cent in other regions.

Claim - Buses could do the same job cheaper.

The facts - Buses are critical to the success of public transport in WA. But rail is clearly able to attract those with a choice to public transport.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics publication 'Perth: A Social Atlas' published in October 2002 showed by far the strongest use of public transport by commuters occurs in areas serviced by rail.

An analysis of public transport patronage in Perth and Adelaide, two cities of similar size and population, supports the position that rail is more likely to attract public transport passengers.

Between 1993-94, the first full year of operation of the Northern Suburbs Railway, and 2002-03, public transport patronage has increased in Perth by 25 per cent. In the same period in Adelaide, a predominantly bus-based system with no investment in rail, public transport patronage has fallen by 8.1 per cent.

Claim - Bus users in Melville will suffer as a result of the railway.

The facts - For bus users in the southern suburbs closest to the city, it is important to note that bus priority measures will be put in place for those buses currently entering the freeway from Canning Bridge.

For all other current bus users, the railway will provide a level of integration that currently does not exist with the bus services running on the Kwinana Freeway. Bus passengers transferring to rail at the stations along the route will have the choice of travelling north to locations such as the city and the northern suburbs, or south to locations such as Rockingham and Mandurah.

Rail passengers will also have a number of stations where they can leave the train, unlike bus passengers who, once the bus is on the freeway, cannot get off until they reach the city.

Train passengers entering the city will be able to get off at the Esplanade Station with access to the Bus Port, the Convention Centre and the foreshore. This will provide convenient access to the Swan River and to events such as the Sky Show.

Train passengers can also depart at the new underground platforms in the heart of the city or transfer to the Fremantle, Midland or Armadale rail lines at Perth Station. Alternately, rail passengers can remain on the train and continue to the northern suburbs or transfer to other bus services at the Wellington Street Bus Station.

Claim - The State cannot afford to build this railway.

The facts - The State can afford this project.

Net debt is under control - net debt/revenue was only 32.3 per cent as at June 30 2003 - compared to the Gallop Government self-enforced limit of 47 per cent.

The total level of debt funding is $1.2billion. By the end of the forward estimates period (2006-07), the railway would represent approximately eight per cent of total gross debt for the State.

The impact on total net debt of the additional borrowings will add about 0.7 per cent to the net debt to revenue ratio.

This project is affordable - it has been in the forward estimates for a number of years and is spread over a manageable period.

In 2006, the Southern Suburbs Railway will carry the equivalent of 2.5 freeway lanes with capacity to grow up to four freeway lanes in decades to follow.

The cost and impact of widening the Kwinana Freeway by four lanes would be enormous.

The question that needs to be asked is can we afford to not build this railway?

Claim - The State's ability to provide proper health services will be suffer as a result of the rail project.

The facts - Health continues to be the Gallop Government's key priority. The health budget for 2003-04 is $2.6billion, or almost 25 per cent of the State's budget.

Let's put the rail project into perspective. This year's health budget is over $1billion more than the entire New MetroRail Project ($1.5billion), which is spread over five years.

While health will continue to be the Government's top priority, as is demonstrated in unprecedented funding levels, there is a need to also ensure the economic, social and environmental well-being of the State.

This project delivers on all three fronts.

Claim - Taxpayers will be subsidising each Rockingham/Mandurah commuter $138 per day.

The facts - The cost for each passenger on the Southern Suburbs Railway will be approximately $4.80 per day, not $138. This is about the same cost for passengers on the current rail network including passengers in Claremont, Cottesloe and Mosman Park.

Previous comments from Peter Bruechle

In April 2002, advertisement co-author Peter Bruechle, an engineer, put forward a proposed route for the entry of the Southern Suburbs Railway into Perth City (Report available from Minister's office).

Mr Bruechle called for the railway to leave the freeway near Richardson Park in South Perth, continue underground through South Perth under Perth Zoo, under the Swan River and tunnel under William Street through the city.

Some key quotes from his report are as follows:

'It is widely accepted that there is a requirement for a passenger rail line that will service the southern suburbs … Such a line will help relieve congestion on the heavily laden southern freeway system … Because the vehicular traffic coming from the south will be lessened it will obviously have a beneficial effect on the environment.' (Page 3)

'… there are good reasons for selecting the route up the Kwinana Freeway.' (Page 7)

'…there are many good reasons for selecting the route up William Street. These include:

  • the possibility of easy access to the Convention Centre, the southern business areas of the city and the southern bus station.
  • ready access to the northern bus station.
  • a new station at the commercial heart of the greater city with easy linkage to the existing Perth Central Station.
  • the possibility of a station well placed to service the entertainment centre of Northbridge.
  • ready connection to the Northern Line.' (Page 7)

'The cost of this option suggested here is estimated as being some $75million more than the route across the foreshore currently being considered.' (Page 5)
Mr Bruechle's proposal included an underground rail line through South Perth, under the Swan River and up William Street - a far more complex project than the State Government's and one he claimed would only have cost $75million more.

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