McGowan Government delays Yanchep rail extension

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The McGowan Government says the Yanchep rail extension will not be operational next year. Picture: Anita McInnes

THE Yanchep rail extension has been delayed by one year with the McGowan Government today saying it will now be operational in late 2023.

Yesterday Yanchep News Online reported Opposition Transport spokesman Shane Love had called for the McGowan Government to answer legitimate questions about whether the Yanchep rail extension was on budget and on time.

Today in his first Budget as Treasurer the Premier Mark McGowan said as well as the Yanchep rail extension being deferred one year the Joondalup Light Auto Workshop had also been deferred one year with completion now expected in mid‑2024.

They are just two out of 16 projects that have had their completion dates extended.

Mr Love said it was clear that works on the Yanchep rail extension were not running to schedule.

He said the Budget showed that actual expenditure last year was nearly $100 million less than expected indicating a dramatic slowdown.

“The project appears to be at least a year behind,’’ he said.

“I really don’t understand why the (Transport) Minister didn’t just admit this when she was questioned about it by me this week.

“Lengthy delays usually lead to increased costs so it is easy to see why the government is seeking to cut costs by dropping the Butler to Yanchep principal shared path.’’

Concerns about the Yanchep rail extension project surfaced after the City of Wanneroo’s August 31 agenda included an item, which flagged that deleting the 13.8km principal shared path along the rail line was just one measure the Yanchep rail extension contractor had been asked to investigate to reduce the cost of the overall project.

Yesterday in Parliament when Mr Love asked Transport Minister Rita Saffioti if the money saved by deleting the principal shared path alongside the Yanchep rail line would go back into consolidated revenue or be used to cover funding gaps in the project she did not answer the question directly but said The Nationals had always been opposed to Metronet.

In a Budget statement this afternoon Mr McGowan the 2021-22 State Budget had delivered a $30.7 billion infrastructure program over the next four years, designed to continue a pipeline of infrastructure work beyond the current boom.

But Mr McGowan said with record low unemployment and supply and equipment pressures, WA was experiencing an incredible demand across its construction and infrastructure sectors.

“To help ease pressure and extend WA’s economic boom, we’ve reviewed our infrastructure program in consultation with industry so it’s better tailored to our new economic conditions,’’ he said.

“Before Covid hit, we invested in a pipeline of work to create jobs and get our economy growing, and during the pandemic we’ve invested a further $9b through our jobs and recovery plan and Covid response to avoid economic devastation in WA.

“Back then, no-one thought we would be in the position we now find ourselves in.

“It makes sense that our infrastructure program complements, rather than competes with private sector activity – and that is what we have tried to achieve.

“Understandably project timeline adjustments will impact some people, but overall, it’s important we continue a strong pipeline of work over the longer term.’’

In April 2020 Ms Saffioti said due to Covid-19 there could be some specific delays for some Metronet projects, depending on the individual contract and where it was at in the stage of its delivery.

But in November last year Premier Mark McGowan said the Yanchep rail extension would be finished in 2021 and ready to transport passengers in 2022.

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