Why the west’s railway network has been slow to change

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The west’s rail network is, in the words of the West Australian government, a “bunch of bunk” which, with the exception of the Northern Territory, has no future.

“I’m not sure we have a future,” the Premier said on Friday, speaking in a room of ministers at Parliament House, where the West Australians are the government’s cabinet.

“The Government’s been a bit quiet on this.”

The West Australian Government says the Government has been very supportive of its infrastructure plan and that it will be the first state to build a new line from Darwin to Perth.

“We have an ambitious, ambitious, bold, and ambitious rail project which will create jobs and improve our local communities,” the premier said.

“It’s the right thing to do.”

But the Government’s transport minister, Andrew Hastie, said on Monday the Government would not be investing in the $1.3 billion line because it was “too costly”.

Mr Hastie said he believed “the West Australian rail network could be rebuilt”.

“We don’t have the capital,” he said.

Photo: Supplied Mr Hasties comments are not the first time the West has been the focus of criticism over the state’s railway infrastructure.

In May, the West Coast Council of Governments launched an independent review into West Australia’s transport system.

Mr Hastys comments come just weeks after the WA Government announced a $1 billion railway link would be built from Darwin via Townsville to Perth by 2023.

A report commissioned by the State Government says it would bring an estimated $3.5 billion in economic benefits and create thousands of new jobs.

However, the WA Premier, Peter Garrett, said the state could not afford the $3 billion figure.

“In terms of funding, we’ve got no idea,” he told the ABC.

“You don’t get the funding for any project unless you have an idea of how to make it happen.”

The Government has previously announced it would fund the construction of a $500 million railway line from Wollongong to Wodonga in 2020, $300 million from Wattleton to Waverley in 2021 and $300m from West Gippsland to Bendigo in 2022.

The rail project was shelved in February 2017 amid a lack of funding.

“Funding for a $3bn line from the port of Darwin to Wollangong is still pending,” the WA Opposition said in a statement on Monday.

“That line would be a critical link between the city of Perth and the surrounding community.”

West Coast Rail spokesperson Scott Haughton said the Government was not going to spend money on a project which would “destroy the West”.

“West Coast rail is a vital link in WA’s economy, delivering high-quality train services between the coast and cities across the state,” Mr Haughtons statement said.

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