Transcript - Press conference

RITA SAFFIOTI: Thank you very much. It's a great pleasure to be here with the Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Catherine King, and also the Local Member, Hannah Beazley. As you can see, progress, there's rapid progress in relation to the level crossing removal project here through Victoria Park and Cannington. 

And over November 20th, we shut down the Armadale line, and from that date work has been progressing rapidly along the corridor. The boom gates have been removed, of course, and that was the first thing undertaken the morning after the shutdown. We've removed all the track, we've removed the overhead lines, the high voltage transmission lines that were in this corridor were removed before we shut the rail line on November 20th.

Since then, the team has been working very hard, and can I thank all the workers that have been on site, as they've been in here piling, putting the headstock on, and of course bringing those L-beams into place, and over 30 L-beams have already been installed. About 150 metres of viaduct has been constructed, and work will commence in the next few weeks here on the new Carlisle Train Station.

So as part of project, not only, of course, are we elevating the rail, removing the boom gates, but of course we're building brand new, state of the art train stations, and the new Carlisle Train Station is starting to be built in the next few days.

It is an incredible achievement so far. Can I thank all the workers who are working through this heat, through what has been a very warm time out here, delivering a magnificent project.

What you can see now, what you can actually visually see is the amount of land that is created under these viaducts; around six hectares of land being created, and of course work continues with the community in consultation with Local Government and the community and through the Local Member about the potential uses.

Of course, what it does is it frees up the land, ideas that are being contemplated, and imagine including new sports and recreational type entertainment for kids, basketball courts, pump tracks, those types of facilities, of course community gardens, places for people to be able to sit, a lot of public open space, parks and recreation for the local community.

So this is a really exciting time. Can I again thank everyone, can I thank the Federal Government who's delivering this project in partnership with us. What we're really seeing is a transformation of the Armadale line.

This is just a part of a $2 billion commitment to the Armadale line, and of course including the elevated rail of over five kilometres through Vic Park and Cannington, and the new stations. And now I'll ask Catherine King for some comments.

CATHERINE KING: Thanks very much. Look, it's fantastic to be here, literally underneath where the Carlisle Station is going to be with my good friend and colleague, Rita Saffioti, and of course the local State MP here, Hannah Beazley.

This is a great partnership. I mean METRONET, I talk about it wherever I go, and it is the envy of pretty much every other State, I'd have to say, in terms of the great work that this project has done.

Of course you're seeing here what the removal of level crossings does, not just for safety, not just for congestion, but also for community amenity.

I want to commend really METRONET, thank very much the construction workers who have been frankly working in incredible heat across the last few weeks here in Western Australia. Great to see the work that you have done.

This project obviously is a 50/50 partnership with the Federal Government investing in, not just public transport and improving public transport, but really this is about a project that is about building community. It's ensuring that we've got good transport connections where people live, but also improving amenity, reclaiming spaces where people can have recreation facilities alongside public transport and really improving that, and that's really what METRONET's been about. It's why we're very pleased to be partnering in this $4.2 billion project. We've made another billion dollars available in December for this project. It's an incredibly important project for Western Australia, and something I think the West can be extraordinarily proud of.

I'm sure Rita will take questions and I'm happy to as well.

RITA SAFFIOTI: Any questions?

JOURNALIST: Is the project sort of on track where you want it to be in terms of [indistinct]?

RITA SAFFIOTI: Yeah, absolutely. It's very much on track. As we saw, when we closed the rail line, our intention was to have activity happening as soon as possible, and what we saw, of course, was the rail line was closed on the evening of November 20th right after the Cold Play concert, a few hours later the boom gates were being removed.

Since that time they're very much tracking according to schedule, and what we've seen is a lot of work being undertaken. But this is a massive project, and as you can see, there's 572 L-beams to be put in place, so this is very much welcome progress.

What we're doing, and one of the reasons this section of the viaduct is being built now, or the elevated rail is being built now, is to make sure we can start building the stations, because as well as the viaduct we have to build the stations, and so the Carlisle Station's going to be built here. So one of the reasons we're building in these types of segments is now to allow this 150 metre section to allow the train station to be built.

JOURNALIST: Have you pencilled in a date for the ribbon cutting?

RITA SAFFIOTI: No, no date pencilled in. I've learnt, don't put actual dates on it, but our target month, of course, is May next year. All the work's been done, a lot of preparation.

As I said, with this project, because of the closure of the line, we wanted to make sure that as soon as we closed the line there was activity here, and that's what's happened. Other services like the overhead transmission towers were able to be removed in advance, and that's what's happened. But of course, as also part of these projects, what you also do is you upgrade the services underneath, and we have a very old water main that comes through this area, so we're also as part of this project upgrading the water pipes along this corridor.

JOURNALIST: What's sort of been the uptake with the replacement buses, and then we've seen the significant impact on traffic congestion?

RITA SAFFIOTI: Now the traffic congestion has been very much below what we expected in relation to amount of traffic on the roads. Importantly, because of the very good alternate buses that have been put in place, we were averaging around 90 per cent of those that would normally catch a train on to bus, so our bus replacement was carrying about 90 per cent of that population who were catching trains; it is now about 80, 85 per cent. That was above our forecast of around 70 per cent.

So our bus replacements are doing better than expected. The road congestion is less than was being forecast. So because of the preparation, and of course we also instituted all those other types of infrastructure, like the bus priority lanes, the traffic lights that give buses priority when they're running late. There's a lot of technology that's put across a network together with the infrastructure that has helped manage this closure. 

But of course a big thanks to everyone through the South East corridor, thank you for their patience, in particular those around the Armadale area where, of course, their travel times have increased, a big thank you, but of course, we've also offered the free public transport, which I know that the community has very much welcomed.

JOURNALIST: You mentioned some of the potential uses of the space underneath. What scope is there for [indistinct]?

RITA SAFFIOTI: They'll all have - so Oats Street will be a major bus interchange, so Oats Street will continue its role in the network, being the major bus interchange. There will be some park and ride, but in particular, these types of stations, which are very much embedded in the community, it's about how do we get people to ride or walk to the stations as well.

So very strong bus interchanges. We've been working with the transport unit about bike paths and how we can better connect the community with dedicated bike paths. For example, the Council has one planned along this area. They'll work in with us about making sure we get really good, and we've already had one new bike path along the rail reserve, having really good cycling and walking connections, and of course the potential for new developments along the corridor.

For example, there's been one that's been proposed for near the Oats Street Station. So this is all about getting more people to live in close proximity to world class train stations, getting people to bike and walk to the station, and also we've got very good bus connectivity.

SPEAKER: Last couple of questions, guys, and we've got to go.

JOURNALIST: There's a lot of extra buses obviously running during the works. Will there be extra [indistinct] or will they be [indistinct]?

RITA SAFFIOTI: There's actually been a dedicated new bus service for Optus Stadium as a result of the closure, so there's a new Armadale special service to Optus.

Victoria Park Station remains open, and that is another good way for people around this area to connect to Vic Park station to get to Optus, but there's a new dedicated special service for Armadale and the Albany Highway corridor to access the stadium.

JOURNALIST: Does the latest majority for the next election [indistinct]?

RITA SAFFIOTI: Look, we never take any election for granted. We continue to be out there focusing on the things that matter, and of course METRONET is not only about the infrastructure, it's about affordability and cost of living, and what we've been really proud of are things like the summer of free public transport, free public transport on every Sunday, and of course the capped fares for people travelling.

We really believe public transport helps with cost of living, and we continue to focus on priority areas like housing, as the Minister for Housing was out today with the Premier; housing, health, public transport, and of course public transport also being a way of delivering cost of living support.

SPEAKER: Thanks guys, cheers