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Monday, 13 July 2015
Chalk and Cheese Comparison to Ditch MAX Light Rail
If the report on the West website today (Nalder finds light rail 'unviable' - https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/wa/a/28774077/nalder-finds-light-rail-unviable - also at right) is correct, one is forced to ask whether our Transport Minister understands anything about light rail.
On the basis of a single visit to Singapore, he finds that light rail is 'unviable' - in contrast to the views of his predecessor and the findings of the Government's own draft (never-to-be-finalised) public transport plan.
One is forced to wonder if the Minister actually had a look at the Singapore system, as distinct from just talking with people in an office, as the proposed Perth MAX and the Singapore system are as unlike as chalk and cheese.
And did he talk only with the operators? If so, this would have omitted many of the key stakeholders, as light rail is as much about land use and development as it is about operating public transport.
In terms of technology, the MAX light rail proposed for Perth is a conventional steel-wheel-on-steel-rail system entirely at ground level. This is a tried and true technology, construction of which is 'standard practice' and low-risk.
The Singapore system, however, is an automated people mover system similar to that at Singapore Airport, not a traditional light rail system. The lines are fully automated and elevated, and run largely on viaducts in order to save scarce land space.
The cost of an automated, elevated system will be much higher than a conventional on-ground system.
And Singapore is not Perth. While Singapore does have very high density, conventionally regarded as supportive of rail-based public transport, the Singapore light rail serves a primarily residential area on the north-eastern edge of Singapore Island. It does not serve the city centre. Instead, it relies on interchange with the MRT (heavy rail) system for journeys to the downtown core of Singapore, which is some 15km away as the crow flies.
If taxpayer's money is to be used to find reasons not to build the MAX LRT in Perth, the Government should, at the very least, not insult our intelligence by basing its decisions on irrelevant so-called evidence from a situation that bears no similarity to Perth.
Written and Posted by Ian Ker, Convenor, STCWA