Perth's passenger rail network covers 252.8 km (157.1 mi) of track with 90 stations on 8 lines across the city's greater metropolitan area. Over the last three decades the rail network has undergone rapid expansion. Between 1981 and 2016 the network tripled in route length and was electrified. The Northern Suburbs Railway was opened in 1993 and was progressively extended, while the new 72 km (45 mi) Mandurah line was opened in 2007. Rail patronage over this period grew from just 6.5 million passengers in 1981 to 60.6 million in 2017-18.
Perth's rail network is a commuter rail service that connects its suburbs with the city centre. It is notable within Australia, however, for its high frequency of services and high average speeds. Its main hub is Perth railway station, which serves all Transperth rail lines in the central business district.
In addition to the suburban network, there are a number of regional rail services provided by Transwa. There are currently several large extensions to the network either under construction or planned, including the Airport line, Ellenbrook line and Thornlie–Cockburn link, under the Metronet expansion project.
The Fremantle to Guildford line commenced operating as a steam-powered service in March 1881, followed by the Perth to Armadale line in May 1889, and the Perth to Joondalup line (now Butler) in 1993 and the Perth to Mandurah line in December 2007. The Fremantle line service ceased in September 1979 but was reinstated in July 1983. Diesel trains were used on the rail network until the three lines then in service, the Armadale, Fremantle and Midland, were electrified in the early 1990s.
The first service with the A-series train was introduced in September 1991, with regular services beginning on the Armadale line on 7 October 1991. The Midland and Fremantle lines commenced service with the then-new A-series trains in December 1991.
The conversion from diesel to electric trains was accompanied by many upgrades to the rail network, such as upgrades to stations and tracks, and the cost of the undertaking was estimated at around $109 million.
Northern Suburbs Transit SystemEdit
The Northern Suburbs Transit System was the name given to the project to provide high-speed passenger rail services to the northern corridor of metropolitan Perth. To service the expanding northern suburbs, Joondalup line was built in the median of the Mitchell Freeway in the early 1990s, after several years of planning. The line was later extended to Currambine in 1993, to Clarkson in 2004 and Butler in 2014.
Legislation for the construction of the Mandurah Line was passed in December 1999. The original proposed route branched from the Armadale line at Kenwick, and then ran alongside the freight lines until Jandakot where it would run in the middle of the Kwinana Freeway. However, a bill passed in November 2002 after a change of state government saw that the route would start at Perth, traverse the Kwinana Freeway, and then continue along its initial route after Jandakot.
Construction of the line started in February 2004 and it opened on 23 December 2007.
Because the government did not begin its review of the Mandurah Line masterplan until after construction had begun, the tunnel under the Roe Highway had already been constructed. To make use of the new tunnel, the government decided to convert this section into a small spur line to Thornlie.
It was decided that Armadale trains would alternate with Thornlie trains, with the Thornlie trains stopping at all stations and Armadale trains only stopping at Oats Street and Cannington stations. Thornlie station opened on 7 August 2005.
In 2003, the government launched the New MetroRail program as the official name of the upgrades to the rail network. This program included the following projects:
- Extension of the Joondalup line to Clarkson and the construction of a new Currambine station.
- Construction of Nowergup railway depot.
- Purchasing 93 B-series carriages to service the Clarkson and Mandurah lines. These railcars would be configured as 31 three-car sets.
- Construction of the Thornlie line and Armadale spur line.
- Rebuilding Armadale, Bassendean and Gosnells stations in 2004/05.
- New Greenwood station built in 2005 between Warwick and Whitfords to relieve the pressure on these stations.
- Upgrade of West Leederville station, including a third platform, to help serve crowds from Subiaco Oval.
Prior to the 2017 Western Australian state election, the then-opposition Labor Party promised a large expansion to Perth's rail network under the title Metronet. After the comprehensive victory by Labor, the Mark McGowan government established Metronet to oversee a number of projects to expand and improve the network. Projects in stage one include:
In August 2014, the government announced the 8.5 km (5.3 mi) Forrestfield-Airport Link would be constructed providing a service to Perth Airport and High Wycombe. Construction commenced officially in November 2016, with the line due to open in 2022.
A rail link to Ellenbrook had been originally promised by then-Premier Alan Carpenter and Opposition Leader Colin Barnett prior to the 2008 elections, however this proposal was not realised. Mark McGowan revived the project in 2017. A business case was prepared for a new 21 km (13 mi) Morley-Ellenbrook Line with stations at Morley, Noranda, Malaga, Whiteman Park and Ellenbrook, with a future station planned for Bennett Springs East. Construction work is expected to start in 2021.
Perth's first East-West rail link is planned to run between Thornlie and Cockburn Central stations, connecting the Mandurah and Armadale lines. This proposal involves 14.5 km (9.0 mi) of new railway, relocating 11 km (6.8 mi) of freight line and building two new stations. Construction started in 2020, with the line expected to open in 2023.
Yanchep Rail ExtensionEdit
The Yanchep Rail Extension is a project to extend the Joondalup line north for 14.5 km (9.0 mi) with stations at Alkimos, Eglinton and Yanchep. The Yanchep Rail Extension and the Thornlie-Cockburn Link are slated to have a combined cost of $1.1 billion. The extension started construction in 2020, with a planned completion in 2022.
Other Metronet projectsEdit
- Extending Armadale line services to Byford
- Relocating Midland station
- Building Lakelands Station and planning for Karnup station on the Mandurah line
- Removing several level crossings on the Armadale and Midland lines
- Designing and manufacturing 41 new six-car C-series trains
Perth–Bunbury fast railEdit
South Perth stationEdit
A station in South Perth on the Mandurah Line has been proposed since 2010 to serve Perth Zoo and the City of South Perth as a bus-rail interchange. In 2019, South Perth MLA John McGrath made renewed calls to plan and build the station.
The Transperth train system is generally regarded as a commuter rail system. However, it shares many similarities with rapid transit systems, including high frequency services (every 5 minutes from 2–6 pm on the Joondalup/Mandurah lines), short distances between stations (less than 2 km or 1.2 mi on Midland/Fremantle lines) and high capacity, single deck electric multiple unit (commonly known as EMUs) trains with fast acceleration.
Transperth runs five train routes along five train lines that converge at Perth railway station, with one spur line. These lines are:
- Armadale/Thornlie line – goes in a south-east direction to Armadale. The Australind continues along the same track to Bunbury. A spur line to Thornlie station opened on 8 August 2005.
- Fremantle line – goes in a westerly direction towards Fremantle. Major stations include Subiaco and Claremont. When trains arrive at Perth station they continue through to the Midland Line.
- Joondalup line – goes in a northern direction, on the Mitchell Freeway central reservation, before moving eastward near Eddystone Avenue through to Joondalup, then returning to the Mitchell Freeway reserve and continuing towards Clarkson. The line then continues currently as a two single track split up at Nowergup depot, then merge back and continues to Butler. When trains on the Joondalup line arrive at Perth station, they continue through to the Mandurah line. Future expansion plans provide for the extension of the line to Yanchep.
- Mandurah line – goes in a southward direction, on the Kwinana Freeway central reservation until Kwinana, then curving south-west towards Rockingham and then south to Mandurah. When trains on the Mandurah line arrive at Perth station, they continue through to the Joondalup line.
- Midland line – goes east towards Midland. Transwa services diverge and continue to Kalgoorlie (the Prospector) and to Merredin (the AvonLink). When trains arrive at Perth they continue through to the Fremantle Line.
All of the above services except the Prospector and AvonLink run on 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) narrow-gauge tracks. The Prospector and AvonLink run on 1,435 mm (4 ft 8+1⁄2 in) standard gauge tracks and takes the same route as the Midland line services. Consequently, the track between East Perth and Midland is dual gauge.
Transperth serves the following railway stations:
|Armadale/Thornlie Line||Fremantle Line||Joondalup Line||Mandurah Line||Midland Line||Airport Line
|Ellenbrook Line |
|20 stations||17 stations||16 stations||13 stations||15 stations||3 stations||5 stations|
|Source: The Public Transport Authority of Western Australia|
Below is the annual patronage of each railway line as of the 2019–20 financial year. Figures are provided as total boardings, which includes all fare-paying boardings and free travel on stations within the free transit zones as well as transfers between stations. The figures for rail replacement and special events services are included in the total but not allocated to any railway line.
|Rail replacement/special services||1,624,960||3%|
|Total annual patronage||49,734,197||100%|
- 43 two-car first-generation A-series EMU's/86 carriages
- 5 two-car second-generation A-series EMU's/10 carriages
- 31 three-car first-generation B-series EMU's/93 carriages
- 15 three-car second-generation B-series EMU's/45 carriages
- 22 three-car third-generation B-series EMU's/66 carriages
- 10 three-car fourth-generation B-series EMU's/30 carriages
- One GE U20C diesel-electric locomotive, classed U and numbered 201
Note: All first and second generation B-series have been upgraded and renumbered to resemble the third generation. The fourth generation is practically the same as the third.
The A-series railcars are two-car electric multiple-unit's with a driver's cab at each end. They were built by Walkers/ABB (Sets 01 to 43) and Walkers/ADtranz (Sets 44 to 48) in Maryborough, Queensland.
Classified AEA-AEB (A for passenger, E for electric and the final letter being the car type) under the old WAGR classification system, these units were simply known as EMU's. It was not until the ordering of the first B-series, that they were given the name A series.
The A-series railcars were built for the electrification of Perth's suburban railway system in the early 1990s and the Joondalup line, which was being constructed in the same period. The first was delivered on 1 September 1990. The original order for 43 first-generation railcars were followed by an additional order for 5 second-generation railcars due to the Joondalup line exceeding passenger estimates. Delivered in 1998, the second-generation railcars differ in having LED screens and other upgrades to security and accessibility, as well being the first suburban trains to feature longitudinal seating throughout. A-series railcars can be coupled to form four or six carriage trains.
Introduced in October 2004, the B-series are the newest electric railcars to operate in Perth. They were built by EDI/Bombardier Transportation in Maryborough, Queensland, and operate predominantly on the Joondalup and Mandurah lines, but can be regularly seen on the Armadale/Thornlie line for Perth Stadium event trains.
Each set consists of three carriages. The powered 'A' and 'B' cars each have a driver's cab, while the central 'T' car is entirely devoted to passengers, and supplies power from overhead lines to the powered cars. The B-series railcars operate as three and six carriage trains, with the potential for nine car trains in the future. They have a top speed of 130 km/h (81 mph).
On 19 September 2006 Premier Alan Carpenter, announced that the Public Transport Authority would purchase another 15 new 3-car sets from the EDI-Bombardier Transportation joint venture. The first of the second generation B-series railcars were introduced on 28 June 2009 and have allowed some of the A-series railcars to be transferred to the Midland-Fremantle line.
As more B-series railcars became available with the ordering of a third generation, they allowed the remaining A-series railcars operating on the Joondalup and Mandurah lines to be redistributed to the Armadale/Thornlie, Midland and Fremantle lines, increasing total capacity for these lines.
41 new six-car sets are planned to enter service between 2020 and 2028 (17 for passenger growth and 24 allowing for the removal of the A-series railcars), the purchase and maintain contract for which has been won by Alstom. These railcars will be designated as C-series railcars.
Transperth operated diesel multiple units prior to the introduction of electric trains in 1992.
- 10 ADX class, introduced starting 1959, withdrawn between 1982 and 1988
- 18 ADG class, introduced in 1954, withdrawn in 1992
- 4 ADH class, built for regional service in 1955/1956, transferred to metropolitan service in 1962/3, withdrawn in 1992
- 10 ADK/ADB class, withdrawn in 1993 and sold to New Zealand Rail
- 10 ADL/ADC class, withdrawn in 1993 and sold to New Zealand Rail
Transperth trains run from two main depots and one minor depot:
- Nowergup Depot, between the Clarkson and Butler stations. The depot sits between the up and down tracks of the Joondalup line. This is the home depot for B-series trains.
- Claisebrook Depot, which is next to Claisebrook. This is the home depot for A-series trains.
- A smaller depot at Mandurah has been constructed to stable B-series trains.
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