Bunbury election focus on fast train

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times

Bunbury City Council candidates have reignited calls for a fast rail line into the city.

A number of candidates have included a Perth to Bunbury fast train in their list of priorities with several saying the time to push State and Federal governments to make the project happen is now.

In her bid to be endorsed to the top spot, mayoral candidate Michelle Steck said the council needed to take advantage of the Federal Government’s $10 billion National Rail Program.

The program is set to provide regional areas with a “fair share” of cash to connect regional cities with capitals through faster and more reliable rail connections.

A Faster Rail initiative in the 2017-18 Budget includes $20 million for the development of three business cases with submissions expected to be taken this year.

“If I am elected Mayor I will lobby very strongly to have the service, as it has been on the list of key projects that the community has wanted for years,” Cr Steck said.

“Now is the time to finally get the community’s pipe dream to reality because there is funding available.”

Fellow mayoral candidates Jason Shaw and Zyggi Uchwal have also pledged their support for a fast train along with councillor candidates James Hayward, Joanna Hughes-Dit-Ciles and Todd Brown while Mayor Gary Brennan has previously stated the fast train was “inevitable”.

A vocal advocate for the rail line during his State Election campaign, Cr Hayward said the State Government’s plans to upgrade the Australind rail line were a “bandaid” solution.

Cr Hayward said he would continue to push for a fast train as he believed it was still in the community’s top priorities following a survey last year by the council.

“The State Government needs to get on with the job to find an ultimate solution which is a Perth to Bunbury fast rail,” Cr Hayward said.

“I really hope the State Government can work quickly to get a business plan together ... the time to start planning and start working to get those outcomes is now.”

Bunbury MLA Don Punch said upgrading the Australind line provided a “short to medium” term improvement and did not prevent long term plans for a faster train.

“Fixing the Australind now does not prevent long term planning for faster train linkages between Bunbury and Perth, but it does mean people won’t have to wait a decade or more before enjoying any improvement to train travel, which would certainly be the case if the Government focussed solely on the development of a fast train service,” Mr Punch said.

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