The State Government has announced the name for WA's proposed light rail system.

The 22km stretch of rail initially linking Mirrabooka to the city, with spurs out to Crawley and Bentley to follow, will be called the Metro Area Express - or MAX for short.

Transport Minister Troy Buswell this morning confirmed the route of the northern link, first revealed by The West Australian in June.

The northern link will start in Mirrabooka, at Polytechnic West, and run along Dianella Drive, Alexander Drive and Fitzgerald Street into the CBD.

Premier Colin Barnett said the rail infrastructure would take tens of thousands of cars off the road.

"This is a major step forward, probably the major advance since the electrification of the Perth rail network and the Mandurah line," he said.

"MAX will power Perth commuters into the future, helping to reduce congestion into the city from our inner north and manage population growth as the city expands to as many as 2.7 million people by 2031."

The State Government has already committed $11.8 million towards the planning phase of the project - with the Commonwealth Government chipping in $4 million.

It expects to begin construction by 2016 and have the northern corridor, as well as east-west links to the causeway and QEII medical centre, operational by 2018.

Mr Buswell admitted the pricetag of "well north of $1 billion" was a significant undertaking given recent estimates a 30 per cent drop in the iron ore price had wiped $1.5 billion of the State's finances.

But he said the State Government could not afford to not undertake it.

"Funding (will be) from, I suspect, an amalgam of State money in the lead, Commonwealth money supporting us and potentially private sector investment as well," he said.

Federal Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese said Labor was a big supporter of new public transport infrastructure.

But he would not commit to a Commonwealth contribution until after the feasibility work had been carried out.

"Once this work is done, Infrastructure Australia will then be in a position to assess the overall merits of the proposal," he said.

"Their advice will ultimately guide our future investment decisions."

Shadow Treasurer Ben Wyatt said he was "flabbergasted" the Government had announced a project of such magnitude based only on the Treasurer's "suspicions" of what it would cost, and without firm commitments on Federal funding or private sector partnerships.

"Mr Buswell said looking at what happened at the Gold Coast project 'I suspect that the cost will be northwards of $1 billion'," he said.

"And that's based on a project in the Gold Coast that was 13 km long that cost $1 billion now, as opposed to a project that's 22 km long six years from now."

The West Australian

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