Railway electrification knocked back again

PUSH AHEAD: Light MP Tony Piccolo said works for the electrification of the Gawler railway line will continue.
PUSH AHEAD: Light MP Tony Piccolo said works for the electrification of the Gawler railway line will continue.

Crowned as the state’s best commuter serviced line, Gawler railway will not receive any federal funding to progress it to stage two of its multi-million dollar electrification upgrade.

The oversight was made clear during the hand down of the federal budget last week. The state government was seeking 50 per cent in back up support after being promised funds as far back as 2008.

The funds would have completed the electrification of the line from Adelaide to Gawler, rather than stop at Salisbury under stage one.

Of the $75 billion in federal funds committed to Australia’s infrastructure, the budget revealed little funds had been contributed to improving any of SA’s roads or railway lines.

On Monday, Light MP Tony Piccolo stood by the Gawler Central Station expressing his concerns over the empty promises made by the federal government.

“The Liberal government has clearly turned a blind eye to SA in its budget,” Mr Piccolo said.

“This is the best serviced commuter line in SA and it will mean better road safety with less people on the roads, improved travel time and reduced fumes emitted into the environment.”

The electrification of the line was first mooted by the state government in 2008.

“Sadly, that funding was withdrawn by the federal liberal government on April 4, 2013,” Mr Piccolo said.

As a regular commuter, Mr Piccolo made reference to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull regularly having his photo taken while on trains, including the Gawler train.

“Yet he has no interest in improving public transport in SA.”

Despite the setback, the state government will move forward with the first construction phase to cost $152.2 million. The tender process began earlier this month with registrations of interest opened to companies seeking to support the project. Work was expected to support up to 135 jobs per year during the construction period and would mean sourcing steel from Australian fabricators and mills.

Mr Piccolo said state Transport and Infrastructure Minister Stephan Mulligan would continue to lobby the federal government to recommit to the project.