Link figures questioned: Perth Freight Link commercial travel time

Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development’s Roland Pittar and John Benac.
Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development’s Roland Pittar and John Benac.

SENATORS have questioned how State and Federal governments can claim the proposed $1.6 billion truck Perth Freight Link saves $2.4 billion in commercial travel time over 30 years, when 90 per cent of the calculation involves private cars.

“If people are getting to work quicker, then it’s contributing to efficiency and profitability,” Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development Roads general manager Roland Pittar said.

Mr Pittar was left to answer questions after the State Government refused to attend the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee hearing in Fremantle last week.

Greens Senator Scott Ludlum asked if the department and Infrastructure Australia’s business case and cost benefit analysis for the link had considered if the route, running 13km from South Lake to 1km south of Stirling Bridge, strengthened the State Government’s proposed sale of Fremantle Port.

The business case’s summary claims the link has a cost benefit ratio of about $2.80 for each dollar spent, compared to a $8.76 CBR claimed for a new container port at Kwinana planned by all governments for about 25 years.

Mr Pittar said analysing the link’s effect on the port’s sale had not been undertaken using an initial plan that had the link on the surface, and the department now understood a trenched version of the route could be used.

He said interest in investment and infrastructure inland would need to be demonstrated before any new port could be analysed but Fremantle Port had capacity to expand to nearly 1.4 million containers annually by 2022, when a new port could operate also using the link.

Container trucks on Curtin Avenue comprise 11 per cent of Fremantle Port’s container movements and Mr Pittar said GPS devices in the vehicles would enforce trucks using the link, and regulate drivers avoiding the link’s proposed 30c/km toll by taking other routes.

Senator Chris Back said truck companies would want to see benefits and improvements before any toll on Curtin Avenue.