Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said local governments are being offered formal briefings, confirming they were only notified of the 18-month shutdown of the Armadale line on Sunday morning – just hours before the announcement was made public.
The announcement on Sunday that the Armadale line would close for 18-months, while a raft of upgrades were completed, raised questions over the timeline of the works, if replacement bus services would be adequate to cater to 20,000 displaced commuters, and if the completion of level crossings would impact those who regularly drive to work.
Examiner Newspapers asked the following questions to the Minister, which went largely unanswered, instead a statement was issued by the Minister’s office.
Is there intent to complete the seven level crossing eliminations at the same time during the 18-month shutdown of the Armadale Line?
If so, what will these mean for commuters who regularly use these level crossings to get to work?
Do you accept it is inevitable that an 18-month shutdown will lead to more commuters using their cars to get to work, and to increased congestion on roads such as Shepperton and Orrong?
Why is no level crossing being removed in Gosnells? The plans for upgrades to stations and level crossings seem to skip Gosnells in its entirety, why?
Why were local governments not consulted on this 18-month shutdown?
How confident are you that works will be completed within 18 months – is there the possibility this shutdown could be extended if construction is delayed for any reason?
How do you expect a replacement bus service, in any form, to compensate the 20,000 passengers this line services per day?
How much consideration was given to undertaking, at the least, the level crossings in stages?
Minister Saffioti said this is the start of a process of consultation, with local government being offered formal briefings.
“Having grown up in Roleystone, and having family throughout the area, I am well aware of the importance of quality local public transport options,” she said.
“A number of alternative options to accommodate the works were investigated.
“These options would have meant disruptions over a longer period – including closures on all school holidays, weekends, nights and other times – for a number of years. These options wouldn’t have allowed us to provide consistent and alternative bus routes, and would have meant a less safe work environment along the line.
“In relation to passenger disruption, 20,000 people use the entire line – with about 7000 using the line from Beckenham to Armadale.
“We will ensure these 7000 train users have a number of alternative transport options, including providing Armadale residents with access to the Cockburn station along Armadale Road.”
There was no mention of how the other 13,000 train users would be supported in the wholesale closure of the line.
“We will also be working with Main Roads to see what other measures we can implement in relation to bus movements along the Albany Highway to provide the best possible alternative routes.
“The State Government continues to explore options to improve transport networks in and around Gosnells.”