Avonlink at Northam in October 2005
|Service type||Passenger train|
|First service||24 September 1995|
|Current operator(s)||Transwa (since 2003)|
|Former operator(s)||Westrail (1995-2000)
WAGR Commission (2000-2003)
|Start||East Perth / Midland|
|End||Northam / Merredin|
|Distance travelled||97 km (Northam)
261 km (Merredin)
|Average journey time||1 hour 20 minutes (Northam)
3 hours 15 minutes (Merredin)
|Line used||Eastern Railway|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in)|
The AvonLink is a standard gauge passenger train operated by Transwa between Perth and the Avon Valley. It provides one service in each direction on weekdays, to and from the regional town of Northam, and since 2004, has provided three extended services a week (MerredinLink) to the town of Merredin.
The first AvonLink service departed Northam on 24 September 1995, and was significant, as it was the first new country passenger rail service in Western Australia for 47 years.
In June 2004 the AvonLink service was extended to Merredin three days a week. In spring 2006 Transwa trialed a day trip Sunday service to Toodyay and Northam. The six-week trial proved popular with each service being fully booked out weeks in advance. However due to overall lack of passengers at other times the service was discontinued.
On 20 August 2013, Transwa announced that the AvonLink service would cease on 30 December 2013 due to poor patronage and be replaced by a road coach. However, this announcement generated signicant criticism. On 19 November 2013, two Wheatbelt region MLAs, Mia Davies and Shane Love, presented petitions to the WA State Parliament calling for the retention of the AvonLink. The petitions bore a total of more than 3,000 signatures of Avon Valley residents.
On 3 December 2013, the WA Minister for Transport, Troy Buswell, announced that the AvonLink service will be retained, initially for a period of six months, while Transwa and the Wheatbelt Development Commission worked through the funding solution required to keep the service running beyond that initial period. The MerredinLink service will also be retained, on a similar basis.
The service initially operated with 1971 Comeng built Prospector railcars. These were replaced by a dedicated two-carriage set built by Goninan, Broadmeadow as part of an order for nine carriages, the other seven being for the Prospector.
- East Perth (Merredin services depart from here)
- Midland (Northam only services depart from here)
- Hines Hill
- AvonLink and MerredinLink Transwa
- Ducey, Liam (20 August 2013). "Transwa cancels AvonLink train service". WA Today. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
- "Keep AvonLink: residents petition Parliament". Central Midlands & Coastal Advocate. 20 November 2013. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
- Predovnik, Rashelle (21 November 2013). "Petitioning to keep the AvonLink". Echo News. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
- Strutt, Jessica; Bembridge, Courtney (3 December 2013). "The State Government has backflipped on its decision to scrap the AvonLink train service". ABC News. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
- Robertson, Katie (3 December 2013). "AvonLink train service will stay open until mid-2014 after community outrage". perthnow. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
- "Westrail Commences 'Avonlink' Service" Railway Digest December 1995 page 22