The next phase of Perth’s 22-kilometre Metro Area Express (MAX) light rail network will see a business case developed for the $1.9 billion transport project, which is designed to change the face of the city’s transportation network.

The Department of Transport WA (DoT) has selected a joint venture between Parsons Brinckerhoff and AECOM to form an Integrated Services Team to work on the project.

The department’s MAX project director David Thomas said the visionary project will introduce a new era of public transport to Perth.

“MAX will support the city’s transformation by providing a frequent, high-capacity service in the inner-north and central west and eastern suburbs of Perth,” he said.

In 2012, the Government of Western Australia committed $11.8 million to the planning phase of the project, while the Australian Government committed a further $4 million. As part of the State Government’s 2013-14 budget, the project was allocated $432 million over four years.

Suburban Station Concept

Essentially a modern tram system using electric rail cars, the new light rail system is quiet and efficient and will be built on existing streets but largely separated from general traffic. The project is a catalyst for city change, being coordinated with land-use planning with the intention of stimulating revitalisation and new developments along the proposed alignment.

The WA government sees MAX as a better transport option for the environment. Not only will light rail reduce reliance on cars and improve metropolitan air quality, it will also support higher population densities near stations , thus offering more lifestyle and housing choices in Perth and reducing urban sprawl.

Light rail is ideal for developed areas as it can be built within existing streets. It is far more cost effective than heavy rail, requires less land and integrates better into the community. Compared to buses, light rail is quieter and has superior carrying capacity – one light rail vehicle carries the equivalent of three articulated buses.

Unlike much of the current Perth bus network, MAX vehicles will not get stuck in traffic, as the system will be separated from general traffic along most of its route and will have a higher priority at traffic lights. This means the MAX system will have more reliable journey times even as traffic congestion increases in the future.

The joint venture team already knows the project well; Parsons Brinckerhoff was the lead consultant on the previous project stage, successfully delivering all aspects of the concept design for the east-west alignment.

“Parsons Brinckerhoff and AECOM are working in close collaboration with the DoT to deliver a strong business case for the MAX project,” said Parsons Brinckerhoff regional director for Western Australia Paul Reed.

Proposed Light Rail

AECOM has previously provided stakeholder and community engagement services for the MAX project, as well as rapid bus transit options for the DoT.

AECOM transport director Graham Holden explained how stakeholder engagement is a key focus for the development of a sustainable, world-class yet affordable light rail solution.

“A strong business case will depend on the support and endorsement of stakeholders and the community,” he said. “The JV team is committed to working collaboratively with the community to mitigate risks and foster support for the project.”

MAX is a priority project for the State Government with construction scheduled to commence in 2016 and the first stages of the network slated for operation by the end of 2019.