Railways in Perth

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Railways in Perth
A B-series train near McIver station
OwnerPublic Transport Authority (2003–present)
LocalePerth, Mandurah and surrounds
Transit typeHeavy rail, commuter rail
Number of lines7
Number of stations75[a]
Annual ridership53,223,811 (year to June 2023)
HeadquartersPublic Transport Centre
Began operation1881
Operator(s)Department of Works and Railways (1877–1890)
WAGR (1890–2000)
WAGR Commission (2000–2003)
Public Transport Authority (2003–present)
Number of vehicles330 railcars
System length181 kilometres (112 mi)
Track gauge1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)
narrow gauge
Electrification25 kV 50 Hz AC from overhead catenary
Top speed110–130 kilometres per hour (68–81 mph)

Railways in Perth, the capital city of Western Australia, have existed since 1881, when the Eastern Railway was opened between Fremantle and Guildford. Today, Perth has seven Transperth commuter rail lines and 75 stations.

The Transperth network is owned and operated by the WA Public Transport Authority (PTA) and consists of seven lines: the Airport, Armadale, Fremantle, Joondalup, Mandurah, Midland, and Thornlie lines. Perth's trains had 53.2 million boardings in the 2022–23 financial year, giving the Transperth rail network the third highest patronage out of Australia's suburban rail networks, ahead of Brisbane.[1] Under construction is the Morley–Ellenbrook line and the Thornlie–Cockburn link.

Notable features of the Perth rail network are that a significant portion is designed to operate in the median of freeways, with dedicated bus-train interchanges and extensive Park & Ride (P&R) facilities provided at newer stations.[2][3] Passengers arrive on feeder buses or use P&R and transfer to trains at train stations. These system design features are a response to Perth's low density.[2][4][5][6][7][8]


The Eastern Railway was the first railway to be constructed in the Perth metropolitan area. It travelled from Fremantle to Guildford via Perth and opened in 1881.[9] It was first proposed in 1871 following the success of railways in Sydney and Melbourne.[10] In 1874, two possible routes were suggested: one traveling north of the Swan River via Perth and one travelling south of the river with a branch line to Perth.[9][10] The Department of Works and Railways was formed in 1877.[11] The northern route was chosen in July 1878, and the contract for the construction of the railway was awarded to John Robb at a cost of £74,591/19/5 later that year.[10] Governor Harry Ord turned the first sod on 3 June 1879, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of British settlement of Western Australia.[9][12]

The railway was operable as far east as Perth station by 9 October 1880 and on 1 March 1881, the railway was officially opened between Fremantle and Guildford by Governor William Robinson.[9] The initial timetable was five trains per day from Fremantle, two terminating at Perth and three terminating at Guildford. There was a severe shortage of rolling stock, and so the trains operated simultaneously as passenger and goods trains.[13] A contract was awarded to J. W. Wright for £53,043 for the extension of the line to Chidlow. This extension opened to traffic on 11 March 1884.[14] Suburban trains terminated at Guildford still.[15]

The railway was initially just single tracked with the only passing loop being at Perth. Another passing loop was built at Claremont in 1885,[13] and soon after, sidings were built at Guildford.[16] In 1886, a branch line opened in Bayswater to the Swan River foreshore near Ascot Racecourse (known then as Perth Racecourse).[16]

The South Western Railway between Perth and Bunbury opened on 2 May 1893.[11][17]

On 21 February 1896, a 20-kilometre (12 mi) new route for the Eastern Railway between Midland Junction and Mount Helena via Swan View opened. It had a lower gradient than the first route and upon opening, it became the main line with the old route being relegated. The maximum grade of the new route was 1:40 whereas the maximum grade of the old route was 1:29. The new route featured the Swan View Tunnel, the first rail tunnel in Western Australia.[18]

Suburban trains on the Eastern Railway were extended to Midland Junction when the Midland Railway Workshops opened in 1904/5. By 1906, suburban trains ran as far as Bellevue on the Eastern Railway and as far as Maddington on the South Western Railway.[15] Kelmscott and Armadale were considered country towns and were served by the less frequent trains to Bunbury.[19]

18 WAGR ADG class railcars were added to the network in 1954, marking the first time that diesel trains were used for suburban services.[11][20] As they had a higher acceleration, more closely spaced stations were able to be built,[21] and so on 28 November 1954, seven new stations opened: Ashfield station on the Midland line; Grant Street, Loch Street and Victoria Street stations on the Fremantle line; and Beckenham (known then as Higham), Oats Street and Stokely stations on the Armadale line.[22][23][24] Headways at this time were 20 minutes on the Fremantle and Midland lines and 40 minutes on the Armadale line.[19] The introduction of diesel railcars reduced the time to get to Perth from Fremantle, Bellevue or Armadale, and resulted in an increase in patronage. In 1953–54, there were 7.8 million boardings, which increased to 13.8 million five years later. This increase was only temporary though, with patronage dropping below 10 million per year in 1964 due to the widespread adoption of cars.[22] By 5 October 1968, suburban services were fully operated by diesel railcars for the first time.[11]


Until the 1950s, the urban development of Perth closely followed the train and tram lines, but following the advent of car-based planning, urban development began to stretch north and south where there were no railways or tramways. The 1955 Plan for the Metropolitan Region, Perth and Fremantle, also known as the Stephenson-Hepburn Report, reinforced this. The report proposed the construction of freeways throughout the Perth metropolitan area and for railways to Morley and Whitfords. When the Metropolitan Region Scheme was adopted in 1963, reserves were set for the freeways but not the railways. Over the following decades, rail patronage declined and the system fell into disrepair.[25][26]

In 1970, the Perth Regional Transport Study recommended that the rail system be replaced with busways, but the subsequent Tonkin government decided against this after looking at public opinion on this.[27] In 1978, the Rail and Bus Policies for the Fremantle Corridor report recommended that the Fremantle line close and be replaced with buses. On 2 September 1979, the Fremantle line was controversially closed to passenger services by the Charles Court Liberal government. A group named the "Friends of the Railways" was formed to advocate against the closure. Following the closure, the Fremantle corridor saw a 30 percent drop in patronage and a petition with over 100,000 was presented to parliament.[28] The Liberal government was defeated in the 1983 state election and several months later, the Fremantle line reopened on 29 July 1983.[29]


Soon after the Fremantle line reopened, the state government decided to investigate electrifying the network. It confirmed plans to electrify the network in 1985 and also announced it was investigating building a new transit line to the northern suburbs, what would later become the Joondalup line.[30] New engineering standards were developed to permit trains to fit into and safely run within freeway medians.[4][5] Electrification commenced in 1989 and the new electric trains, now known as the Transperth A-series trains, commenced operations in September 1991.[31]

Island platform in a trench surrounded by retaining walls. There are large curved white shelters covering the platform.
Joondalup station, which opened on 20 December 1992

The Northern Suburbs Rapid Transit Study investigated whether the northern suburbs should get bus rapid transit, light rail or heavy rail, among other options. The choice eventually settled on was for heavy rail, like the rest of the rail network.[31] Construction on the Joondalup line began in 1990. The line mostly ran though the median of the Mitchell Freeway, deviating east at Joondalup. It had significantly wider station spacing than the original three lines and several stations were designed as bus-train interchanges. The line opened to partial service on 21 December 1992 with three stations operational (Leederville, Edgewater and Joondalup). All the stations along the line from Perth to Joondalup opened in March 1993, along with reforms to the bus network in the northern suburbs so that buses fed into interchanges along the railway.[32] Later that year, the Joondalup line was extended to Currambine.[33][34]

New MetroRail[edit]

Planning for the Mandurah line commenced soon after the Joondalup line opened. The first Transperth B-series trains arrived in June 2004 and the new Nowergup rail depot on the Joondalup line opened.[35] The Joondalup line was extended to Clarkson station, opening on 4 October 2004.[36] The Thornlie line, a spur off the Armadale line, opened on 7 August 2005.[11] The Mandurah line opened on 23 December 2007.[37] The Joondalup line was extended again to Butler, opening on 21 September 2014.[38][39][40][41]


Airport Central station, which opened with the Airport line on 9 October 2022

Construction on the Forrestfield–Airport Link (FAL) began in November 2016. The FAL involved the construction of 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) of twin-bored tunnels to connect Perth Airport and Perth's eastern suburbs to the rail network. The FAL opened as the Airport line on 9 October 2022.[11][42] The last Transperth B-series train entered service in mid-2019 as set 126.[43]

The Joondalup line is being extended from Butler to Yanchep. Construction for that began in mid-2020.[44] The Yanchep rail extension was originally meant to open in late 2021.[45] This was first delayed to 2022. After the September 2021 state budget, the extension was delayed to late-2023.[46][47][48] After the May 2023 state budget, the government said that the Yanchep extension "is due for completion at the end of 2023, with services commencing in the new year".[49]

Construction on the Morley–Ellenbrook line commenced in 2019.[11] This line is planned to open in late-2024.[50] Construction on the Thornlie–Cockburn link to extend the Thornlie line to Cockburn Central on the Mandurah line commenced in 2019.[11] This project is planned to open in 2025.[42] The Victoria Park-Canning Level Crossing Removal Project commenced in November 2023. This project will elevate the Armadale line between Victoria Park and Beckenham stations, removing six level crossings and rebuilding five stations (Welshpool Station will be demolished). This project will necessitate the closure of the Armadale and Thornlie lines for eighteen months, which started on 20 November 2023.[51] The Armadale line will also be extended to Byford, with that extension planned to open in mid-2025.[52]

The first Transperth C-series train entered service on 8 April 2024 on the Mandurah and Joondalup lines.[53][54]

Management, operation and branding[edit]

Western Australian Government Railways (WAGR) was established in 1890 as the owner and operator of the railways, superseding the Department of Works and Railways.[11][55][56]

The Tonkin government decided to restructure the operations of suburban transport, and so in 1974, the management of suburban rail services was placed with the Metropolitan (Perth) Passenger Transport Trust (MTT), the operator of bus services in Perth since 1958.[11][27][57] The MTT contracted out the operation of rail services to WAGR,[27][57] which was rebranded Westrail in September 1975.[11] The MTT adopted Transperth as its trading name in August 1986.[11][58]

In November 1992, the rail system was rebranded as Fastrak,[59] but this rebranding was reverted around 1995.[60] In 1993, management of the Transperth system was transferred to the Department of Transport with the aim of privatising the operation of the Transperth system.[11][57]

WAGR underwent a restructuring in 2000. The WAGR Commission was created in December 2000 which operated the network under its Urban Passenger Division as part of an alliance agreement with the Transperth division of the Department of Transport.[61][62] The Department of Transport merged with the Department of Planning in July 2001 to form the Department for Planning and Infrastructure. The Transperth division continued under the Department of Planning and Infrastructure.[63][56]

On 1 July 2003, the WAGR Commission, Transperth, school bus services and regional bus services were merged to form the Public Transport Authority (PTA), which oversaw all public transport in Western Australia as one organisation for the first time.[56][64] Services have since been managed by the PTA's Transperth division and operated by the PTA's Transperth Train Operations division under an internal service-level agreement.[65][66]

Routes and services[edit]

Transperth rail map

The Transperth rail network consists of six lines plus one spur line. All lines meet at Perth station or Perth Underground station. As of December 2021, the Transperth rail network is 181 kilometres (112 mi) long.[67]

The Fremantle and Midland lines run as through services with each other. The Fremantle line runs from Fremantle to Perth and has 17 stations, including the two termini. The Midland line runs runs from Perth to Midland and has 15 stations, including the two termini. The maximum speed of the Midland line is 100 kilometres per hour (62 mph) and the maximum speed of the Fremantle line is 90 kilometres per hour (56 mph).[68] The frequency of the Fremantle and Midland lines is five trains per hour during peak and four trains per hour outside peak and on weekends.[69][70]

The Armadale line runs between Perth and Armadale and has 20 stations. This line has a spur line: the Thornlie line, which runs from Perth to Thornlie, branching off south of Beckenham. This line has 12 stations; Thornlie line trains typically do not stop at Beckenham station. The maximum speed of these lines is 100 kilometres per hour (62 mph), except for the Thornlie spur, which has a maximum speed of 130 kilometres per hour (81 mph).[68] The frequency of the Armadale line is seven trains per hour during peak and four trains per hour outside peak and on weekends. The frequency of the Thornlie line is four trains per hour on weekdays and Saturdays, and two trains per hour on Sundays.[71]

The Armadale, Fremantle and Midland lines are collectively known as the "heritage lines" because they were constructed long before the other lines were built. The heritage lines have smaller station spacing, worse facilities,[72] fewer bus transfers and lower patronage than the newer lines. These lines predominantly use A-series trains but will be transitioned to using only B-series trains as the A-series trains are retired.[73]

The Joondalup and Mandurah lines run as through services with each other. The Joondalup line runs from Perth to Butler via Joondalup. It has 13 stations: two stations in the Perth CBD, seven suburban stations with bus interchanges, and three suburban stations without bus interchanges. The Mandurah line runs between Perth and Mandurah and has 13 stations. Two of those stations are in the Perth CBD and the rest are suburban and have bus interchanges. The maximum speed of the Joondalup and Mandurah lines is 130 kilometres per hour (81 mph).[68] The frequency of these lines during peak is twelve trains per hour between Cockburn and Whitfords and six trains per hour on the outer sections of these lines. The frequency outside peak and on weekends is four trains per hour.[74][75]

The Airport line runs between High Wycombe and Claremont via Perth Airport and the Perth CBD. Between Bayswater and Perth, the Airport line shares track with the Midland line, and between Perth and Claremont, the Airport line shares track with the Fremantle line. The maximum speed of this line is 130 kilometres per hour (81 mph) within the section between Bayswater and High Wycombe.[68] The frequency of this line is five trains per hour during peak and four trains per hour outside peak and on weekends.[76]

Most of the Transperth network is segregated from non-Transperth trains. The exceptions are the Armadale line, which is used by Transwa's Australind train, the Midland line between East Perth and Midland, which is dual standard and narrow gauge on that section and used by Transwa's AvonLink, MerredinLink, The Prospector, and Indian Pacific, and the Fremantle line bridge across the Swan River, which is used by freight trains to access Fremantle Port.[77]

Perth rail lines
Line First service Image Length Stations Rolling stock
Fremantle line 1881 (electrified 1991) 19.0 km (11.8 mi) 17
Midland line 1881 (electrified 1991) 16.1 km (10.0 mi) 15
  • Transperth A-series
  • Transperth B-series
Armadale line 1893 (electrified 1991) 30.4 km (18.9 mi) 19 (20 future)
  • Transperth A-series
  • Transperth B-series
Joondalup line 20 December 1992 40.7 km (25.3 mi) 13 (16 future)
Thornlie line 7 August 2005 View from bridge of two railway tracks merging into one as they leave the station Branch: 2.9 km (1.8 mi)
Total: 25.2 km (15.7 mi)
Branch: 1
Total: 11
  • Transperth A-series
  • Transperth B-series
Mandurah line 23 December 2007 70.1 km (43.6 mi) 12
  • Transperth B-series
  • Transperth C-series
Airport line 9 October 2022 Branch: 8.6 km (5.3 mi)
Total: 25.2 km (15.7 mi)
Branch: 3
Total: 11
  • Transperth B-series
Morley–Ellenbrook line
(under construction)


Branch: 21 km (13 mi) Branch: 5
Total: 13
Transperth B-series



Perth's suburban railways use 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) narrow gauge track, except for the Midland line between East Perth and Midland, which uses dual gauge track as regional train services use standard gauge.[78] The Airport line branch, the Joondalup line, and the Mandurah line have a maximum speed of 130 kilometres per hour (81 mph); the Armadale, Thornlie and Midland lines have a maximum speed of 100 kilometres per hour (62 mph); and the Fremantle line has a maximum speed of 90 kilometres per hour (56 mph).[68] Trains are powered by 25 kV 50 Hz AC overhead line equipment. In the Airport line and Perth City Link tunnels, where space is limited, a rigid overhead conductor rail is used.[79]

Perth's suburban railways use fixed block signalling. As part of Metronet's High Capacity Signalling Project, the network will be upgraded to moving block signalling using communications-based train control (CBTC).[80][81] As of 2021, the CBTC system is planned to be implemented on the Airport, Midland and Fremantle lines by June 2027, the Joondalup and Mandurah lines by 2029, and the Armadale and Thornlie lines by 2031. This will allow for up to 30 trains per hour on some sections of the network.[77]


View from platform of two paved side platforms with large shelters and an overpass linking the two
Lakelands station, the newest Transperth station
Bitumen island platform with a small metal shelter on it
North Fremantle station, a typical heritage line station

There are 76 railway stations on the Transperth network.[a] 39 of those stations have bus transfers.[82] Five of those stations are underground: Airport Central, Elizabeth Quay, Perth Underground, Redcliffe, and Subiaco stations. Two of those stations only operate during certain times: Perth Stadium station only operates during events at Perth Stadium or on weekends, and Showgrounds station only operates during events at the Claremont Showground.

Disabled accessibility is best on the newer lines, with the heritage lines all having over half their stations non-compliant. All stations along the Airport line branch and the Mandurah line are accessible and all stations along the Joondalup line except Edgewater, Leederville, and Stirling stations are accessible. Perth station is accessible with the exception of platform four, which is used by the Thornlie line. 16 stations along the Armadale and Thornlie lines are not accessible. The exceptions are Claisebrook, Perth Stadium, Thornlie, Cannington, and Victoria Park stations. 13 stations along the Fremantle line are not accessible. The exceptions are Fremantle, Subiaco, and West Leederville stations. Eight stations along the Midland line are not accessible. The exceptions are Bassendean, Bayswater, Claisebrook, East Perth, Maylands, and Midland stations. All stations have step-free access. Factors limiting accessibility include non-compliant ramps, a lack of tactile paving, large platform gaps, and pedestrian level crossings.[83]

All stations along the Airport line branch, the Joondalup line, and the Mandurah line have 150-metre (490 ft) long platforms, which are long enough for six car trains, the longest trains used on the network. Most stations along the heritage lines have platforms which are only 100 metres (330 ft) long, limiting the length of trains that can be used on those lines. The exceptions are Bayswater, East Perth, Perth, and West Leederville. The other stations are planned to be lengthened eventually.[84]

Depots and maintenance[edit]

Long shot of train depot from a skyscraper
Claisebrook railcar depot

The Public Transport Authority has three depots plus one under construction:

Rolling stock[edit]

Current rolling stock
Name Image Top speed Total number of railcars Railcars per train Manufacturer Entered service Lines
A-series Transperth 3'6" gauge 2-car emu No.209 between Bassendean and Ashfield on a Midland - Perth service 110 km/h (68 mph)[93][94] 96 (48 sets currently in service) 2[93] ABB/Adtranz and Walkers
Maryborough, Queensland[94]
B-series Transperth B-series train at McIver station 130 km/h (81 mph)[93][96] 234 (78 sets currently in service) 3[93][96] Downer Rail and Bombardier
Maryborough, Queensland[96]
C-series Transperth C-series train on the Armadale line 130 km/h (81 mph)[97] 246 (1 set currently in service) 6[98] Alstom
Bellevue, Western Australia[98]
Previous rolling stock
Name Image Top speed Total number of railcars Manufacturer Entered service Left service
WAGR ASA class 1 SentinelCammell[99] 1931[99] 1954
WAGR ADG class 75 km/h (47 mph)[99] 18 Cravens[99]
Sheffield, England
1954[99] 1992[100]
WAGR ADX class 75 km/h (47 mph)[99] 10 Midland Railway Workshops[99]
Midland, Western Australia
1959[99] 1988[101]
WAGR ADK class
WAGR ADB class
75 km/h (47 mph)[99] 10 ADK
10 ABD
Commonwealth Engineering[99]
Granville, New South Wales (ADK)
Midland Railway Workshops
Midland, Western Australia (ADB)
1968[99] 1992[100]
WAGR ADL class
WAGR ADC class
75 km/h (47 mph)[99] 10 ADL
10 ADC
A. Goninan & Co[99]
Newcastle, New South Wales
1981[99] 1992[100]



Perth train patronage
FYPatronage±% p.a.
1900 5,000,000—    
1910 11,200,000+8.40%
1920 15,600,000+3.37%
1930 12,300,000−2.35%
1940 9,600,000−2.45%
1945 15,600,000+10.20%
1950 9,600,000−9.25%
1960 13,200,000+3.24%
1970 10,200,000−2.55%
1980 7,200,000−3.42%
1981 6,500,000−9.72%
1982 6,100,000−6.15%
1983 6,800,000+11.48%
1984 8,700,000+27.94%
1985 8,700,000+0.00%
1986 9,800,000+12.64%
1987 9,700,000−1.02%
1988 9,400,000−3.09%
1989 8,800,000−6.38%
1990 8,400,000−4.55%
1991 7,600,000−9.52%
1992 9,600,000+26.32%
1993 13,600,000+41.67%
1994 22,900,000+68.38%
1995 23,400,000+2.18%
1996 25,900,000+10.68%
1997 29,000,000+11.97%
FYPatronage±% p.a.
1998 29,200,000+0.69%
1999 28,900,000−1.03%
2000 29,500,000+2.08%
2001 31,200,000+5.76%
2002 31,000,000−0.64%
2003 31,400,000+1.29%
2004 31,114,975−0.91%
2005 32,652,117+4.94%
2006 34,132,593+4.53%
2007 35,757,833+4.76%
2008 42,636,075+19.24%
2009 54,749,770+28.41%
2010 56,408,742+3.03%
2011 58,867,780+4.36%
2012 63,029,878+7.07%
2013 65,689,337+4.22%
2014 63,491,683−3.35%
2015 64,224,895+1.15%
2016 62,644,806−2.46%
2017 60,092,097−4.07%
2018 60,600,052+0.85%
2019 61,539,510+1.55%
2020 49,734,197−19.18%
2021 42,998,449−13.54%
2022 42,779,726−0.51%
2023 53,223,811+24.41%
Source: Bureau of Infrastructure & Transport Research Economics[102] PTA[103]

Train patronage in Perth from July 2022 to June 2023 was 53,223,811.[103] Perth's rail network is the third busiest in Australia, behind Sydney Trains and Metro Trains Melbourne.[102]

The most used stations as of October 2017 are Perth and Perth Underground, with 38,159 boardings per weekday, Elizabeth Quay, with 11,860, Murdoch, with 7,969, Warwick, with 5,125, and Joondalup, with 4,791. The least used stations as of October 2017 are Seaforth, with 136 boardings per weekday, Success Hill, with 139, Challis, with 259, Karrakatta, with 260, and Woodbridge, with 266.[104]

Transperth trains yearly ridership per line[103]
Line Patronage
2011–12 2016–17 2021–22
Mandurah 20,293,223 32.2% 20,343,828 33.9% 14,357,888 33.6%
Joondalup 16,700,234 26.5% 16,658,559 27.7% 11,752,572 27.5%
Armadale and Thornlie 9,227,813 14.6% 7,385,888 12.3% 5,629,910 13.2%
Fremantle 8,679,139 13.8% 7,940,853 13.2% 5,217,162 12.2%
Midland 6,626,464 10.5% 6,143,986 10.2% 4,243,760 9.9%
Replacement buses 1,503,005 2.4% 1,618,983 2.7% 1,578,434 3.7%
Total 63,029,878 100% 60,092,097 100% 42,779,726 100%


  1. ^ a b 75 stations if Perth station and Perth Underground station are counted as the same station.


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