WA Labor Party promises A$400m for rail manufacturing

Credit: ABC News Andrew O'Connor

The Western Australia (WA) Labor Party has promised more A$400 million to build railcars in the state if it is elected next month, according to the ABC.

 The policy proposal is that WA suppliers would manufacture 50 per cent of all railcars for the Metronet project. The total cost of Metronet will be $410 million over 15 years.

The building of the cars would be funded out of redirected money from the Perth Freight Link and sales of WA government land.

WA opposition leader Mark McGowan said that as part of the promise there would be renewal of existing lines by local workers. 

“We’re going to make sure that there are more train manufacturing jobs here in WA, as there once was,” Mark McGowan said. 

“Other states have done it, it’s time for WA to do it.”

However, WA transport minister Bill Marmion said that the pledge is a “pipedream”.

“There is not critical mass, sufficient timeframes or the financial capacity for the state to build a rolling stock industry in WA,” Marmion said.

“Building a facility for the production of a limited number of railcars per year cannot be justified — our production costs will be substantially higher due to a lack of economies of scale.”

WA urgently needs to diversify its economy away from mining. The labour force participation rate dropped from 69 per cent in November 2015 to 67 per cent in December 2016. The WA unemployment rate was 6.6 per cent in December 2016 so the state needs new business investment and infrastructure projects.