The West

Premier Colin Barnett has scorned what is shaping to be the focus of the State opposition’s election campaign, its ambitious rail network plan.

Opposition Leader Mark McGowan today gave details of the proposed $616 million North Circle part of the $3.8 billion Metronet rail project, which is designed to serve Perth’s growing suburban fringe while easing congestion in the city.

It was the third rail announcement from WA Labor in three days, following its unveiling of the $863.5 million Ellenbrook line plan yesterday and the proposed $731.5 million Perth Airport rail line on Tuesday.

Mr Barnett scoffed when he was asked about Metronet today.

“I think a bit of realism needs to come in here,” he said.

But Mr McGowan said the project was well thought-out and a realistic priority for the city.

He said construction of the North Circle line would start in 2013/14 and would service stations at Perth Central, Claisebrook, Maylands, Bayswater and Stirling, while adding four new stations to Malaga, Mirrabooka, Hamersley and Balcatta.

Mr McGowan described Metronet as a much-needed “revolution” and “game changer” for public transport in Perth.

“An east-west route in the northern suburbs is an important piece of the puzzle to make sure that we make our city liveable, to make sure that we fix the congestion crisis,” he said.

“An east-west route has been talked about since 1955.”

Mr McGowan rejected the suggestion his campaign would run out of steam before the March 9 election, saying that some of the party’s commitments would not require financing.

The North Circle, Perth Airport and Ellenbrook rail line project cost estimates do not include the cost of rail carriages, although the total Metronet project cost of $3.8 billion does, the party says.

The Liberals say the opposition is underestimating Metronet’s cost, and believes it would need $6.4 billion.

The West Australian

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