Tunnel vision slammed


Opposition Leader Mark McGowan and transport spokeswoman Rita Saffioti.
Opposition Leader Mark McGowan and transport spokeswoman Rita Saffioti.

Mr Nalder revealed last week his preference for a tunnel from Perth to Morley, extending to Ellenbrook, in favour of the proposed MAX light rail service.

Opposition leader Mark McGowan labelled the comments “crazy” and “chaotic”.

“You can’t believe anything the government says,” Mr McGowan said.

“The Premier says he doesn’t even support railway and it isn’t deserved, but back in 2008 they promised a rail line to Ellenbrook.”

But Mr Nalder said the government did not actually release any plans for an underground tunnel.

“The information came out through a freedom of information request. Nevertheless, a tunnel warrants serious consideration when determining the most appropriate public transport solution for the northern suburbs,” Mr Nalder said.

The State Government promised a $2 billion MAX light rail service in 2013.

“The MAX Light Rail project, as is well known, was deferred,” Mr Nalder said.

“This has given the government time to further investigate the best public transport solution for the northern suburbs.”

Opposition transport spokeswoman and West Swan MLA Rita Saffioti accused the government of lying to Ellenbrook residents twice.

“This government has had eight years to develop a plan and they haven’t,” she said.

“They lied to residents in the 2008 election and again in 2013.

“The only thing we’ve seen is thought bubble after thought bubble.”

Ms Saffioti also said many people bought in Ellenbrook on the promise of a train line.

“To finish the town centre, you need a rail line,” she said.

“It’s a no brainer. The population is here, it’s doable and achievable, and it’s something that’s warranted not only for Ellenbrook but the fast growing corridor leading to Ellenbrook.”

Mr Nalder slammed the Opposition’s comments, reassuring residents they had not been forgotten.

“The Opposition’s suggestion that an underground tunnel plan is a thought bubble is simply a juvenile comment,” he said.

“While the Government is still committed to a metro area express, with the benefit of time, innovation and our experience in planning the Forrestfield Airport Link and other projects, it is clear we should be looking at every available option to make sure that when we go ahead with this project, we deliver the best possible solution for West Australians, with the biggest bang for our buck, and an absolutely first class public transport experience.”

THE ADVOCATE ASKED RESIDENTS WHAT THEY THOUGHT OF THE STATE GOVERNMENT’S COMMENTS LAST WEEK ON AN UNDERGROUND RAIL LINE TO ELLENBROOK

“It’s all talk,” long-time Ellenbrook resident Steve Kerr said.

“The government just want to be seen to be doing things so they’ll get the votes.”

Mr Kerr said he used to commute the 70km from Mandurah to Perth by train.

“That would take me about 50 minutes,” he said.

But to travel the 29km from Ellenbrook to Perth city, commuters’ only option is to catch the bus to Bassendean, and then connect with the train.

According to the TransPerth’s journey planner, that route would take 53 minutes, three minutes longer than the Mandurah train to cover less than half of the distance.

If you want to go by motor vehicle, however, the journey is even longer, according to Mr Kerr.

“If you get stuck on Gnangara Road and Lord Street, it can take three hours to get to Perth,” he said.

“I don’t know why there isn’t a train line here already. You can see the city from Ellenbrook. It’s a joke.”

Mr Kerr suggested an express bus service that ran directly from Ellenbrook and connected with the northern suburbs train line.

The Vines resident Bob Buttress said people were frustrated by “the badly-serviced transport system”.

“A rail line would be a great idea, but I think it’s just more political flim-flam,” he said.

Ellenbrook residents Betty Sutherland, Zandra McIntosh and Amelia Young are also fed up.

“It’s disgusting,” they said.

“We were promised a train line 14 years ago.

“Ellenbrook is expanding so quickly and it’s just horrendous that they haven’t done something already. It’s a load of porky pies, used just to get people to vote.”