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Marshall Govt derails Port Dock railway line

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UPDATED | Plans to rebuild the Port Dock railway line and station to service a revitalised Port Adelaide waterfront have been put on ice by the State Government.

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The project to return rail to the heart of the once-neglected Port after 30 years was announced by the former Labor State Government in October 2017.

Budget funding of $16.4 million was set aside to build a one-kilometre spur line and station to connect the Port Adelaide centre to the CBD, but the Marshall Government has now received advice the project will cost much more.

The original Port Dock train service was axed in 1981 and the station later demolished to make way for a police station and Port Adelaide Magistrates Court, moving the nearest railway access to a station well south of the centre, near Grand Junction Rd on the Outer Harbor line.

The new spur line was to be built from a point before the Outer Harbor line crossed Port Rd, and head into Port Adelaide to end at Baker St.

Then-Transport Minister Stephen Mullighan said it would provide “frequent rail services for those who already call the area home and the many more set to live, work in and visit Port Adelaide, which is undergoing a major redevelopment”.

But Transport Minister Stephan Knoll today revealed the project – which also included a bus interchange – would be put “on hold” as it would cost much more than the $16 million first announced.

Knoll said Labor committed the funding without a full technical site assessment and concept design.

“Now that the detailed technical design has been completed …we know the Port Dock project will actually cost taxpayers $40 million,” Knoll said.

“A responsible State Government needs to assess if this significant increase in expenditure will deliver the best public transport solution for the people of Port Adelaide and surrounding areas.”

Planning for major Port Dock line works has now “paused”, pending the development of a study to be undertaken by the Public Transport Projects Alliance.

“The North Western Planning Study will consider public transport needs in the Port Adelaide area as well the considering the current and potential scope for enhanced land use in the surrounds,” Knoll said.

“This will include the Dock One residential development and the Port Adelaide commercial precinct.

“We have identified potential opportunities to further improve public transport services and connectivity for Port Adelaide and more broadly, the north western suburbs.

“That’s why we will undertake a comprehensive study for the north western area, so we get this right.”

Deputy Labor leader and local MP Susan Close said the decision was “devastating for the Port – for every business that invested on the understanding that the train was coming, for the museums, and for the residents”.
“This government has taken every opportunity to betray Port Adelaide whether it’s tearing down our heritage, wrecking our public transport or letting down businesses by promising one thing and doing another,” she said in a statement.
“This is also the latest example of the Marshall Liberal Government’s war on public transport. First they cut services, then they jacked up fares and now they’re scrapping infrastructure projects.”

The Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure in 2017 released images and a fly-through to show how returning rail to the Port would look.

“State Government initiatives – including buying back nearly 23 hectares of waterfront land and making it available to developers, moving 500 public servants to work in the Port and activating its streets – are already transforming the historic precinct into a thriving residential, commercial and tourist destination,” a DPTI release said.

“The new station will be located on the doorstep of the Dock One waterfront redevelopment, which will soon include more than 750 new townhouses and apartments, a refurbished Marine and Harbours building, and waterfront boardwalk.

“A bus interchange will also be constructed as part of the overall Port Dock Project. Bus services, routes and layover locations will be reviewed as part of the design process to ensure future integration of bus and rail services.

“This project forms part of the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure’s (DPTI) Public Transport Program. This is a program of key public transport capital initiatives announced in the 2017-18 State Budget.”

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