Rail transport in Western Australia
The Railways in Western Australia were developed in the 19th century both by the Government of Western Australia and a number of private companies. Today passenger rail services are controlled by the Public Transport Authority (a department of the Government of Western Australia) through Transperth, which operates public transport in Perth, and Transwa, which operates country passenger services. Great Southern Rail operates the Indian Pacific.
Freight rail was privatised in 2000. General intrastate freight is mainly operated by Aurizon, while grain traffic is operated by Watco under contract to the CBH Group. Interstate traffic is operated by Aurizon, Pacific National and SCT Logistics. A number of private iron ore haulage railways also operate in the Pilbara region of the state.
- 1 History
- 2 Operations
- 3 See also
- 4 References
- 5 Further reading
- 6 External links
The Western Australian lines developed in narrow 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) gauge from Fremantle (the port of Perth), Geraldton, Bunbury, Albany and Esperance, mainly for carrying grain and minerals, with the private Midland Railway Company and Great Southern Railway adding 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) gauge lines in the Wheatbelt with the support of land grants.
In 1907 the standard-gauge Trans-Australian Railway from Port Augusta, South Australia to Kalgoorlie was authorised. Construction started in 1912, and it was completed in 1917. It was run by the Commonwealth Railways. In the 1960s standard (1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in)) gauge lines penetrated to Perth and Esperance and long distance heavy-haul railways were built in the Pilbara region by major iron mining companies, particularly BHP and Hamersley Iron. The Perth suburban lines were electrified and extended.
Government railways were controlled by the Department of Works and Railways from 1877.
The department became Western Australian Government Railways (WAGR) in 1890. WAGR became Westrail in 1975 and continued to manage both passenger and freight rail services in Western Australia until 2000, when the freight business was sold to the Australian Railroad Group who operated it under the Australian Western Railroad brand. This business was purchased by Queensland Rail in 2006 and rebranded Aurizon in 2013. Westrail’s freight rail lines were leased to WestNet Rail, another subsidiary of the Australian Railroad Group. This business was acquired by Babcock & Brown in 2006 and sold again in 2010 to Brookfield Asset Management and rebranded Brookfield Rail. In July 2017 it was again rebranded as Arc Infrastructure.
The WAGR's remaining functions, including owning the rail network and operating regional passenger services were transferred to the Western Australian Government Railways Commission. On 1 January 2003, the commission's functions were absorbed by the Public Transport Authority with passenger services operated under the Transwa brand.
- 1871 - Private Ballaarat Tramline opens from Lockville to Yoganup, south of Perth
- 1879 - WAGR railway 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) gauge line opens between Geraldton and Northampton
- 1881 - Eastern line opens from Fremantle to Perth and Guildford
- 1893 - South Western line opens from Perth to Bunbury
- 1894 - Midland Railway Company opens the Midland line from Midland Junction to Walkaway, connecting with the WAGR line to Geraldton
- 1896 - Eastern Goldfields line reaches Kalgoorlie
- 1917 - Standard gauge Trans-Australian Railway connects eastern Australia with Western Australia, with a break-of-gauge at Kalgoorlie
- 1968 - Kalgoorlie to Perth standard gauge line opens. (Lines east of Merredin converted to standard gauge, including Kalgoorlie-Esperance & Kalgoorlie-Leonora. North and south of Merredin remains narrow gauge only. West of Northam becomes dual gauge.)
- 1986 - Electrification of Perth suburban lines from with a 25 kV AC overhead power supply commences
- 1993 - Northern Suburbs Transit System commences operation with a new line opened from Joondalup to Perth
- 2007 - The Mandurah line opens as part of the New MetroRail project, which also included construction of the Thornlie spur and Greenwood station
The WAGR opened the Eastern line from Fremantle to Perth and Guildford in 1881. It was extended to Chidlow in 1884, York in 1885 and Beverley in 1886. Branch lines were built to Belmont, Northam and Toodyay by 1888.
The Beverley line was extended to Albany in 1889 by the Great Southern Railway, which was taken over by WAGR in 1896. A line was built from Perth to Bunbury in 1893, with branches to Collie, Busselton and Bridgetown.
The Northam line was extended to Southern Cross in 1894 and Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie in 1896. This line connected with the standard gauge Trans-Australian Railway to eastern Australia in 1917 at a break-of-gauge. The replacement standard gauge line opened in 1968.
Wheatbelt Branch Lines
Isolated Branch Lines
The Western Australian Government Railways had two isolated branches:
The Hopetoun to Ravensthorpe railway was an isolated branch opened on 3 June 1909, and closed on 23 February 1935. The Hopetoun jetty line was handed over to the Harbour and Light Department on 1 January 1936. It was officially closed on 13 January 1946.
Perth suburban network
- From 1993 Perth electrified its existing railway lines, utilising electric multiple units and a 25 kV AC overhead power supply system.
- In 1993, the Northern Suburbs Transit System commenced operations.
- 2007 saw the completion of the New MetroRail project.
Transwa controls public transport services outside of Perth, including passenger services from Perth to Kalgoorlie, Northam and Bunbury. These trains are named the Prospector, AvonLink, and Australind.
Pilbara iron ore lines
Four isolated heavy duty railways for the cartage of iron ore in the Pilbara region have always been private concerns operated as part of the production line between mine and port. These lines have pushed the limit of the wheel to rail interface which has led to much useful research of value to railways worldwide.
Another iron ore line has been proposed to the port of Oakajee, this will have open access to any iron ore mine wishing to use it. A dual gauge network based on the new Oakajee Port north of Geraldton has been proposed by the Department of Transport.
In 2010, Rio Tinto announced plans to expand capacity on the railway line linking its iron ore mines to Dampier; this would increase capacity to 230 million tonnes per year, to meet increasing demand for iron ore.
The railway lines are:
- Hamersley & Robe River railway (Rio Tinto)
- Mount Newman railway (BHP)
- Goldsworthy railway (BHP)
- Fortescue railway (FMG)
- Railway accidents in Western Australia
- Western Australian Government Railways
- History of rail transport in Australia
- List of Western Australian locomotive classes
- Closed railway stations in Western Australia
- "Background - Organisation of Australia's Railways". Department of Transport and Regional Services. Retrieved 2008-02-21.
- "Railways in Western Australia". www.pta.wa.gov.au. Archived from the original on 2008-05-21. Retrieved 2008-06-22.
- QR closes national rail freight deal QR National 2 June 2006
- "Australian Railroad Group buys Westrail freight" Railway Digest December 2000 page 23
- "G&W wins Westrail Freight" Railway Gazette International volume 156 issue 12 December 2000 page 788
- Sale of Australian Railroad Group Wesfarmers 14 February 2006
- "Intelligence" Railway Gazette International volume 162 issue 7 July 2006 page 380
- Westnet Rail to become Brookfield Rail Brookfield Australia 17 August 2011
- "News in Brief" Railway Gazette International volume 167 issue 9 September 2011 page 11
- We are now Arc Infrastructure Arc Infrastructure 11 July 2017
- Brookfield Rail to become Arc Infrastructure Railway Gazette International 17 July 2017
- Annual Report June 2002 Western Australian Government Railways Commission
- "After Westrail Sell-Off, It's Back to the Future with WAGR" Railway Digest February 2001
- Public Transport Authority Agency Detail State Records Office of Western Australia
- About us Transwa
- The Indian Pacific Great Southern Rail
- Fortescue opens the world's heaviest haul railway Railway Gazette International 14 July 2008
- Rail Roy Hill
- Pilbara's heavryweight champion flexes its muscles International Railway Journal 3 November 2015
- Oakjee Port and Rail Project Department of Transport
- "Rio Tinto to boost Pilbara capacity - International Railway Journal". 2010-09-28. Retrieved 2010-09-28.
- Affleck, Fred N. On track : the making of Westrail, 1950 to 1976 . Perth : Westrail, 1978. ISBN 0-7244-7560-5
- Joyce, John; Tilley, Allan (1980). Railways in the Pilbara (2nd ed.). Wembley, WA: J & A Publications. ISBN 0959969926. OCLC 222691305.
- May, Andrew and Gray, Bill. A History of WAGR Passenger Carriages. Perth:The Author, 2006. ISBN 0-646-45902-3
- Quinlan, Howard & Newland, John R. Australian Railway Routes 1854-2000 2000. ISBN 0-909650-49-7
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