AUSTRALIA’S most famous railway interchange station will remain closed until 2019 as the government prepares to move forward with a plan to build a train line to the Gold Coast from Perth to Adelaide.
The interchange is the country’s busiest station with passengers crossing from all parts of the country for a daily commute.
But it will remain a key transit hub for rail, road and port projects, with an annual population of 10.6 million people.
The rail link will be built by South Australia-based FirstLink, a joint venture between state and federal governments that is working to upgrade and modernise the station to serve more than 1 million people a year.
The $12 billion project will cost about $1.3 billion, but will be financed by the federal government and the state’s share of a $4.2 billion loan.
It will include upgrades to the station’s rail corridors, as well as a high-speed rail link to Sydney.
Interchange Station is the most visited station in Australia, but there is no reason to assume it will be reopened until 2019, Transport Minister David Johnston told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday.
He said the government would be taking a holistic approach to improving the station and that there were no immediate plans to reopen the interchange for passenger traffic, or to reopen a rail link.
“It is our duty to look at what works and what doesn’t work in the future and the fact that it is now on hold is not a reason to re-open it,” Johnston told the inquiry.
“The fact is that we need to look to the future.”
The Federal Government has promised to invest $400 million to build the railway link.
But Johnston said it was not yet clear whether it would be built or not, and the plan was being reviewed by state governments.
“We are working with the state and territory governments on the details of how to do it,” he said.
The Interchange was the first interchange built in the country and was the only one that opened in the 1960s.
It was the subject of a public inquiry into the station in the 1970s, when a former employee, David McCrindle, led a campaign to open the interchange.
The Gold Coast was chosen as the venue because it was a railway hub and because the railway line was considered the best route to travel to the coastal town of Port Augusta.
“Interchange was an amazing success story.
It is a great success story and it is also a great symbol of the promise of Australia’s prosperity,” Johnston said.