Yanchep rail extension clears milestones with green bridges for EPA approval

An artist's impression of Eglinton train station.
An artist's impression of Eglinton train station.

TRAIN services on the Yanchep rail extension are expected to start in 2022, but the Environmental Protection Authority is calling for the $531.7 million project to include at least three green bridges for wildlife to cross the tracks.

The EPA announced its conditional approval of the second part of the project, from Eglinton to Yanchep on Monday, a day after ground was broken to mark the start of early clearing works.

Having received environmental approval for the 7.3km Butler to Eglinton section in May, the Public Transport Authority has also been seeking approval for the 7.2km section to Yanchep, which will cut through the Ningana Bushland.

EPA chairman Tom Hatton said after a thorough environmental impact assessment, which included a six-week public review period, the EPA had found the proposal could be environmentally acceptable if certain conditions were met.

A concept design for a green bridge over rail tracks.

“As the proposed train line will divide parts of the WA bush on its planned route which has the potential to cause fragmentation for native wildlife and vegetation, we have recommended the PTA build at least three ‘green’ bridges over the rail line to maintain the ecological connection,” Dr Hatton said.

“The EPA has also recommended offsets to counterbalance the significant residual impacts to threatened and priority ecological communities, including black cockatoo habitat, and a Bush Forever site, and if these conditions are met then the proposal would be environmentally acceptable.”

The green bridges would be built from rail tunnels, with vegetation growing on the top so animals such as kangaroos, lizards, snakes and birds could cross the tracks safely.

The NorthLink fauna bridge. Picture: Main Roads

According to PTA, the green bridge would be “one of the first known to be installed over a passenger railway in Australia” although Main Roads recently built a narrower fauna bridge on the NorthLink project.

The EPA report to the Environment Minister, who will make the final decision, is open for a two-week public appeal period until December 9 through www.appealsconvenor.wa.gov.au.

The Federal Government is contributing $350 million for the Metronet project to extend the line from Butler to Yanchep, with stations in Alkimos and Eglinton.

The State Government has identified NEWest Alliance, involving CPB Contractors and Downer, as the preferred proponent to build the 14.5km rail extension and is expected to sign the contract in December.

Federal and State politicians attended a Welcome to Country with Noongar representatives Doreen Nelson, Roger Pickett and Richard Walley, and turned the first sods to mark the start of works on Sunday.

Wanneroo MLA Sabine Winton, Butler MLA John Quigley, Transport Minister Rita Saffioti, Premier Mark McGowan, Pearce MHR Christian Porter, Burns Beach MLA Mark Folkard and Wanneroo Mayor Tracey Roberts. Picture supplied

Premier Mark McGowan said the rail project and road upgrades in the northern suburbs would help reduce the time residents spent in traffic.

“Travelling up from Rockingham today, and seeing the amount of residential development in Alkimos and surrounds demonstrates just how popular the northern coastal lifestyle is,” he said.

“Metronet will provide another transport option for the rapidly growing northern suburbs and along with the freeway widening works, help bust congestion and provide better links to the CBD and other suburbs.”

Infrastructure Minister Alan Tudge said the rail extension would cater for growth in the region and Pearce MHR Christian Porter said the project would have many benefits for the local community.

“This rail line will provide more accessible and cost-effective public transport for communities in our northern suburbs, reducing congestion on the roads and connecting them to the city,” Mr Porter said.

“This project will create a 49-minute train journey between Yanchep and Perth CBD, providing residents in my electorate with easy access to infrastructure such as Perth airport and stadium.

“In addition to the local jobs created by this project, the new stations and improved transport accessibility will provide new opportunities for businesses and help to stimulate the local economy.”

An artist’s impression of Yanchep train station.

The extension will be built as part of a single contract with the Thornlie-Cockburn link and both projects are expected to create more than 3000 jobs.

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said it was the start of “a transformational era of rail construction across Perth” with six Metronet projects planned to be underway next year.

“Along with our record investment in roads, the impact of the McGowan Government’s Metronet investment will be felt in the economy in the short-medium term and will set the foundation for Perth to grow sustainably in the long term,” she said.

Visit www.metronet.wa.gov.au for more information.

An artist’s impression of Alkimos train station.