It’s 20 years today that the Perth to Fremantle passenger rail line was re-opened.
Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the line, which first opened in 1881, was closed in 1979 with the Government of the day claiming the reasons for closure were declining patronage and no potential for growth on the line.
“Before the line closed in the late 1970s, an estimated 2.13 million passengers used the line each year, but since it re-opened in July 1983, there has been an almost 400 per cent increase, with annual passenger boardings growing to 8.13 million in the past financial year," Ms MacTiernan said.
“The Government of the day said there was little or no scope for urban growth around the line, but just look at Subi Centro and West Perth. Development in Claremont and North Fremantle are also in the planning phase.
“To celebrate this significant anniversary, and to promote our rail network, the State Government will waive fares on all metropolitan lines this coming Sunday, August 3.
“You will be able to travel free between 9am and 9pm and there will be spot prizes on trains and station platforms on the Perth - Fremantle line.”
Ms MacTiernan said Labor had always recognised the important role public transport played in developing and strengthening local communities.
“In this case, Labor re-opened the line at a time when Fremantle was exploding with change and expansion, with preparation for the America’s Cup defence,” she said.
The Minister said the line closure brought strong protests from the public, the formation of a civil society group called 'The Friends of the Railways' and the-then Labor opposition.
“When Labor came to power in 1983, one of its first actions was to fulfil an election commitment to re-open the railway,” she said.
The re-opening of the Fremantle line was just part of a $452million commitment of the previous Labor Government to upgrade the metropolitan train system - including the electrification of the entire system and 86 rail cars.
“On the day the line re-opened, Labor said the passenger service would give the people of the region a choice of transport systems, boost trading and tourist attractions for Fremantle and reduce traffic congestion between Perth and Fremantle,” Ms MacTiernan said.
“It also said it was the clearly expressed will of the people of Perth and Fremantle that the Government should enhance, rather than contract the rail system.
“These sentiments have not changed in 20 years.
“While buses will always have an important role in our public transport system, trains have proved to be the most successful mode for converting Western Australian commuters to public transport.
“Labor is still committed to enhancing and upgrading our public transport system to meet the needs of all commuters and developing WA as a liveable dynamic and vibrant State.
“This is especially so with our plans to upgrade existing stations, as well as doubling our urban network with extensions to the Northern Suburbs Railway, the spur line to Thornlie and the Perth-to-Mandurah railway which becomes fully operational by the end of 2007.”
Minister's office: 9213 6400