Byford Rail Extension brought forward as station location confirmed

The location of a new station for the community of Byford has been selected as preparatory works kick off before the end of 2020.

The new Byford station will be the terminus of an extended Armadale Line, bringing electric trains to the south-eastern Perth outer suburb for the first time. Byford is currently served by the Australind service between Perth and Bunbury.

To prepare for the new rail line, the Thomas Road level crossing will be replaced with a road-over-rail bridge. The removal of this level crossing has been added to the Armadale Road to North Lake Road Bridge project, enabling works to begin sooner.

The Western Australia government has also submitted the Byford Rail Extension project’s business case to Infrastructure Australia for consideration and potential federal funding.

The new Byford Station and extended Armadale Line will serve the area as it grows to 35,000 people by 2036, double the area’s current population, said WA Premier Mark McGowan.

“Once complete, the project will make it easier for Byford residents to catch public transport in to Armadale, and other centres on the route to the Perth CBD, opening up new opportunities for employment, education, and entertainment.”

Byford Station would be built next to the Byford Town Centre, 8km south of Armadale Station. The project also includes a new car park, a bus interchange, and a pedestrian crossing over the railway line.

“The Byford Rail Extension will also act as a catalyst for further development in the future town centre, maximising the growth potential of the town.”

Armadale Station will also be upgraded to accommodate longer, six-car trains, a new Australind platform and an extended pedestrian overpass. The bus interchange will also be improved.

Additional level crossing removals are being considered and will form part of main construction works.

Once the current concept design phase is complete a main construction contract is expected to be awarded in mid-2021.

Construction begins on Bellevue railcar manufacturing site

Work has begun on the Bellevue manufacturing site, where Western Australia’s fleet of railcars will be built, tested, and maintained.

Part of the Metronet project, the $46 million facility will be where manufacturer Alstom will construct and maintain 246 C-series railcars, as well the replacement railcars for the Australind service.

Subiaco-based company, Firm Construction, will build the assembly and maintenance facility, as well as a high-voltage testing building. The 180m long building will include a railcar assembly area, offices, workshops and storage areas, two overhead cranes lifting 25t each, and a heavy maintenance railroad with a 10t capable crane.

“Today marks the start of the return of the railcar manufacturing industry to the Midland area,” said WA Premier Mark McGowan.

Under the terms of the agreement, 50 per cent of the total $1.25 billion contract will be delivered locally. The WA government estimates that 100 jobs will result from construction of the facility, with more jobs once production and maintenance begins.

“In a year from now, local workers will be standing in this very spot assembling Western Australia’s new Metronet railcars,” said McGowan.

The effects of the contract will also be felt more widely across the workforce.

“At the North Metropolitan TAFE campus, just down the road, our specialist Metronet Trade Training Centre will ensure local apprentices and trainees learn the skills for this important work,” said McGowan.

Once complete, the first of the C-series railcars are expected to run on the Perth network in 2022. Previously, railcars were manufactured in Midland up until 1994, when the Midland Railway Workshops closed down.

Australind railcar design and action plan revealed

Designs for new Western Australian made Australind railcar have been revealed.

WA Premier Mark McGowan and Transport Minister Rita Saffioti visited Bunbury Station on Thursday to unveil the designs of the brand new $54 million Australind railcar sets, which will be built by Alstom.

The two new Australind trains are apart of the McGowan Government’s $1.25 billion railcar program.

The state government also announced an Australind Action Plan, promising to deliver additional public transport for South-West commuters ahead of completion of new railcars.

The existing Australind train was originally planned to have an operational life of up to 30 years, however factors such as corrosion that built up over time has been a leading cause of cancelled services.

The McGowan Government in a statement said while extensive maintenance has been undertaken to keep the rolling stock operating, “ageing and obsolescence resulting from this neglect has led to a number of delays and cancelled services”.

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said, “as we transition from the old Australind to the new Australind railcars, we are committed to ensuring that the current train continues to provide a reliable service”.

“We have also introduced a raft of measures to provide more certainty for passengers as we await the delivery of the new train.”

As part of this, the McGowan Government is introducing a trial non-stop road coach service departing from Bunbury Station at 6am every weekday and returning to Bunbury in the evening, enabling passengers who need to commute the opportunity to travel on a fast-tracked, non-stop luxury road coach service.

The road coach will drop passengers at Mandurah Station, where they can continue their journey free of charge on the metropolitan rail system by presenting their Transwa ticket.

The McGowan Government has also introduced a credit program for Australind rail passengers so if their train journey is delayed by more than an hour due to maintenance issues or failure of rolling stock, they will be given a credit to take their next journey free of charge.

The new Australind trains will be a three-car set, and will have a modernised interior, with USB connection points, Wi-Fi, an improved kiosk, upright storage for 16 bicycles, and three toilets.

The railcar sets, being built by Western Australian workers in Bellevue, are expected to be delivered in 2022-23.

Mark McGowan expects Australind replacement in ‘coming years’

The Western Australian Government says that replacing the ageing Bunbury-to-Perth train Australind will take a few more years. 

State premier Mark McGowan explained that while the train was a priority for the government, its plans to build a successor locally was a factor in the slow delivery of the project, stating that a new Australind would be delivered “over coming years”. 

“The work is ongoing, but clearly if you want to get a West Australian-built train we have to go through the processes of making sure that it’s done here and done properly,” he said.

The Westrail ADP/ADQ railcars used on the Bunbury-to-Perth line have been active since 1987. The train received $700,000 of maintenance work as part of the WA Government’s $1.6 billion Railcar Program this year, returning to service on May 15 after being out of commission for much of 2019.

However, the train’s performance has remained inconsistent, and it was pulled from the tracks again five days later.

McGowan explained that assessment of the train had uncovered a lot of rust and that the government wanted to ensure the trains were secure enough for public use.

“It’s 32 years old and we did a proper assessment of it and uncovered a lot of rust, so we’ve got to make sure that it’s safe and fit-for-purpose whilst we build a new train and that’s what we’re doing,” he said.

“Obviously we need to maintain that and get it fixed whilst we build a new train.

“We want to make sure it’s a good service, a safe service and in the future an outstanding service with a West Australian-built train.”