Two METRONET projects added to Infrastructure Priority List

Two projects in the Western Australian Government's METRONET rail program have been added to the Infrastructure Priority List after the business cases were assessed by Infrastructure Australia, the nation's independent infrastructure advisor.

The Infrastructure Priority List is the authoritative list of nationally significant investments Australia needs over the next 15 years. Developed using a rigorous assessment process, the Priority List identifies the Yanchep Rail Extension as a High Priority Project and the Thornlie-Cockburn Link as a Priority Project.

Infrastructure Australia Acting Chief Executive Anna Chau said the METRONET program of rail projects is designed to address the problem of capacity constraints on Perth's metropolitan rail network, which was previously highlighted on the Infrastructure Priority List as a Priority Initiative requiring action in the short term.

“Growing urban congestion in Greater Perth has been identified by Infrastructure Australia as a nationally significant problem, driven in part by the city's limited public transport options and a tendency towards low-density development which has led to high car use compared to other Australian capital cities,” said Ms Chau.

“METRONET aims to increase the capacity and reach of Perth's metropolitan rail network. As part of the overall program, the Yanchep Rail Extension and Thornlie-Cockburn Link will enable more people to use public transport and reduce pressure on the road network – something which will become increasingly critical as the city's population grows.

“Perth's population has grown strongly over the past 20 years, and is expected to increase from 2 million people in 2017 to 2.9 million people by 2031, and 3.5 million people by 2050. Creating more integrated transport networks will be essential to guard against congestion and overcrowding, and maintain Perth's world-renowned liveability.

“Without action to increase public transport use, additional demand for travel will be absorbed by Perth's road networks, which are already constrained in peak periods. Congestion on the Mitchell Freeway means that journeys on this road can take twice as long as they should, with cars travelling at an average of 50km/h in the morning peak when the speed limit is 100km/h.

“Part of the WA Government's METRONET program, the Yanchep Rail Extension involves extending the Joondalup Line from Butler Station to Yanchep, with new stations planned for Alkimos, Eglinton and Yanchep to support population growth in the city's north-west. With a stated benefit-cost ratio of 2.6 from the WA Government, Infrastructure Australia is confident that extending the Joondalup Rail Line to this growth area will provide more transport choices for residents and reduce demand on the roads,” Ms Chau said.

Also delivered as part of the METRONET rail program, the proposed Thornlie-Cockburn Link involves the construction of two new train stations, Nicholson Road Station and Ranford Road Station, and construction of a new passenger rail corridor which follows the Midland to Kwinana freight line.

“The WA Government's proposal to link Thornlie Station on the Armadale Line to Cockburn Central Station on the Mandurah Line will improve network connectivity and relieve pressure on existing interchanges, such as at Murdoch. The WA Government has stated a benefit-cost ratio of 1.2 for the project, with Infrastructure Australia's assessment finding that the benefits of the Thornlie-Cockburn Link would marginally exceed its costs,” Ms Chau said.

Infrastructure Australia considers a range factors in classifying a project as Priority or High Priority, including the scale of national productivity benefits the project will deliver, its strategic significance within the broader network, and potential social impacts such as better integration of land use development and transport networks.

Infrastructure Australia's process for assessing business cases is described in detail in the Infrastructure Australia Assessment Framework.

The revised Infrastructure Priority List is available at www.infrastructureaustralia.gov.au.