Eric Charlton

Eric Charlton

Former Minister for Transport

    Go ahead for new commuter train to run between Perth & Northam

    22/06/1998 12:00 AM



    Transport Minister Eric Charlton today announced the go-ahead for a new ‘super train' to replace the existing Perth-Kalgoorlie Prospector and a separate narrow-gauge fast commuter train for the AvonLink run between Perth and Northam.


    Westrail will call tenders for the high-speed trains which are scheduled to commence operations in 2001.


    The state-of-the-art trains will revolutionise passenger rail travel in regional Western Australia.


    The new Prospector will be capable of speeds in excess of 150kph, cutting up to two hours off the journey between Perth and Kalgoorlie.


    The new narrow gauge AvonLink train will be capable of speeds in excess of 120kph and offer an enhanced commuter service between Northam and Perth.


    Mr Charlton said the $30 million Prospector would consist of six power units to replace the existing five power cars and three trailer cars which had been in service since 1971.


    "This train is an exciting initiative and it will place WA at the forefront of passenger rail," he said.


    "This world-class train will revolutionise the journey to and from the Goldfields by offering safe, high-speed travel and the very latest in on-board comfort.


    "Not only will this train dramatically cut travel times, it will also include the latest technology and provide passengers with on-board facilities such as telephones, music channels, videos, and powerpoints for lap top computers.


    "The train will also cater for people with disabilities by providing special lifting equipment and easy access toilets.


    "The new Prospector will be capable of operating at speeds in the range of 150-200 kph reducing the journey between Perth and Kalgoorlie to 5-6 hours. Currently the trip on an all-stop service takes about seven hours and twenty minutes."


    Mr Charlton said a recent Government decision to upgrade the standard gauge track and signalling systems would allow the new Prospector to operate to its full capability.


    The new railcars were expected to meet passenger demand until 2020.


    The Minister said that Westrail would call tenders for two narrow gauge railcars to provide a world-class AvonLink service between Perth and Northam at an estimated cost of $10 million.


    A further $1.7 million would be spent on track upgrade and platform work at Northam.


    "The purchase of the two narrow gauge units will give Northam its own discreet service which can arrive and depart at Perth Central Station rather than East Perth terminal," Mr Charlton said.


    "The new AvonLink train will provide a major boost for the people in Northam and surrounding districts giving them a modern, safe, and reliable high-speed service to and from Perth.


    "The new railcars will be capable of operating at speeds in excess of 120kph and provide a state of the art commuter link between Northam and Perth.


    "The new dedicated AvonLink rolling stock will be based in Northam and servicing carried out in the town."


    The AvonLink service was introduced in September, 1995, utilising the standard gauge Prospector and terminated at the East Perth station. It was the first new passenger service introduced in WA in 24 years.


    "The new train will give passengers the much more convenient option of travelling into the heart of the Perth CBD, instead of having to end their journey at East Perth and we believe this will be a major attraction," Mr Charlton said.


    He said the AvonLink service would encourage major passenger growth and stimulate tourism opportunities for Northam and surrounding towns.


    "What we will have is a safe, high-speed service which will get people to and from Northam with the minimum of fuss and in the greatest possible comfort," the Minister said.


    Mr Charlton said WA was at the forefront of a national rebirth in rail and the two world-class trains underpinned the State Government's commitment to highest quality transport options to communities in the country areas.


    Media contact: Doug Cunningham 9321 7333