A proposal for underground rail to a redeveloped Bowden village has been scrapped in the South Australian Government’s 30-year transport plan.
The draft plan suggests trams should replace trains on the current Outer Harbor rail line and that they use Port Road to enter and leave the CBD.
Transport Minister Tom Koutsantonis said that would remove the need for an expensive rail junction in the parklands and the potential need for an underground link to Bowden.
“It’s about consultation. We’ll talk to local residents, we’ll talk to the local contractors and builders and see what they want,” he said.
The Federal Government already promised more than $100 million towards the Torrens rail junction in 2015.
Mr Koutsantonis said the State Government would be interested in using federal funding to upgrade a rail crossing on Torrens Road.
“The most important thing about the federal funding for that interchange is we want to grade separate the ARTC (Australian Rail Track Corporation) line from traffic as well, so we’ll have to have discussions with the Commonwealth about how we augment that plan if we do decide to go trams,” he said.
Richard Angove of the Property Council said scrapping the idea of an underground rail link to Bowden could inconvenience commuters.
He said they would have to get off at Bowden and and walk to tram services near the Entertainment Centre.
“I would think that’s something the Government would revisit at the appropriate time with a greater degree of analysis of the customer patronage of the line, that would to a large degree determine their decision which way to go,” he said.
Federal Government reneging, says Transport Minister
Proposed electrification of any part of the Gawler train line might be in doubt.
Federal Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss has withdrawn funding promised for the project by the previous Labor government.
A funding cut would leave a $76 million shortfall in the plan to electrify the line between the city and Salisbury.
The South Australian Government announced this week the line out to Salisbury would be electrified.
Mr Koutsantonis said a tender had been let for the project and the Federal Government had reneged on a guarantee.
“What they are doing today is breaking the hearts of everyone in the north,” he said.
“What they’ve done is let the Government create a project, they’ve let the Government go out and announce it, they’ve let the Government work on it and they’ve put at risk 600 jobs and 300 ancillary jobs to build this rail line,” he said.
“The Commonwealth were our partner, they need to explain to the people of South Australia and the people of the north why it is that they break their word.”
The SA Government also said the Federal Government had reneged on a $9 million commitment for the Tonsley rail project, in Adelaide’s southern suburbs.
Mr Koutsantonis said the Coalition had said before the election that it would withdraw funding but Prime Minister Tony Abbott had since recommitted after learning construction was already underway.
But federal Assistant Infrastructure Minister Jamie Briggs maintained today that the funding would be stripped and disputed Mr Koutsantonis’ version of events.
The state minister said the federal move now puts the passenger line project in doubt.
“Thanks to Jamie Briggs, it may never operate, yes,” he told reporters.
“We had an agreement. We had a deal. We had an agreement to finish this line and, today because he got a little bit upset on radio, he just said ‘No, you can’t do that either.’
“In fact he got so confused, he’s so under-briefed he thought this was a freight line.”
Opposition frontbencher Vickie Chapman said the South Australian Government needed to work better with the Federal Government to ensure the state did not miss out on key investment projects.
“This concept of we’ll announce what we want to do and another level of government will pay for what we demand doesn’t work,” she said.
“It must be a mutual arrangement and even if they don’t like their dancing partner they still have to commit to the exercise.”