Councils look to light rail to connect south-west Perth

Councils in south-west Perth are pushing for a new rapid transit link between Murdoch and Fremantle.

The South West Group, made up of six councils from the region, have released a new report highlighting the need for a dedicated transport link to stimulate urban growth and improve transport connections. Read more

Fremantle Traffic Bridge

Procurement fast tracked for new rail-road bridge

A new multimodal bridge over the Swan River at Fremantle will be brought forward by six months.

The $240 million project is funded on a 50-50 basis by the Western Australia and federal governments and has had procurement brought forward by six months, with construction expected to start by late 2021, said federal Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Alan Tudge.

“Fremantle continues to be a bustling hub and we brought forward funds so construction on this project could kick off sooner.”

The bridge will carry rail and road traffic, as well as providing a pedestrian and cycle link between north and south Fremantle. The current bridge is nearing the end of its useful life.

The alliance contract is expected to be awarded in early 2021, said WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti.

“Community consultation is now underway and will inform the project’s development and design to ensure we reach the best possible outcome for this significant infrastructure in Fremantle.”

Infrastructure Australia added the project to its Infrastructre Priority List in February, 2019. The independent advisory body noted that rail connectivity in the region is limited due to the shared Fremantle Rail Bridge. Currently, passenger services are given priority, however both freight and passenger volumes on the bridge are expected to increase. Adding more connections would prevent delays and improve freight efficiency into and away from Fremantle Port.

In seeking community input for the project in early August 2020, the WA government noted that the project is highly complex and positioned in a challenging area. Issues including heritage-listing, ensuring continued connectivity while the new bridge is constructed, and ensuring ease of navigation on the river will impact upon the nature of the project.

“It has been well known for more than a decade that the Fremantle Traffic Bridge needs replacing so we’re excited to reach the stage of community consultation,” Saffioti said at the time.

container

WA endorses plan for new container port at Kwinana fed by rail

The Western Australia government has endorsed the creation of a new container port at Kwinana to relieve pressure on Fremantle Inner Harbour.

With the state’s freight task expected to overwhelm capacity at Fremantle by the mid-2030s, the independent Westport Taskforce recommended a new container terminal at Kwinana, supported by rail links and intermodal terminals.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said that the decision was about preparing the state for the future.

“It is imperative that we plan for Perth’s long-term future, beyond the capacity limits of Fremantle Port and its road and rail links,” he said.

“Fremantle Port has served our State for the last one hundred years, it’s now time to plan and build the next big piece of economic infrastructure that sets our State up for the next century.”

Moving container freight to Kwinana by 2032 would reduce pressure on inner city roads and allow for further capacity. A decision on whether to transition from Fremantle to Kwinana in one step or over a phased period is yet to be made.

The report found that the current freight rail corridor would need to be expanded for Fremantle to handle larger volumes of freight, and that works to do so, including duplicating the line, would cost an estimated $1.4 billion. A new port at Kwinana would potentially remove the need for a freight line running through Fremantle, the report noted.

An alternative option of increasing the size of the port at Bunbury was also held back by the cost of duplicating the South West main rail line.

For the two preferred options, a series of upgrades will need to be made. These include duplicating the rail line close to the Forrestfield Intermodal Terminal, the single track from Cockburn to Kwinana, and the connection between the Kwinana Triangle and the Kwinana marshalling yard. In addition, a new railway from the Anketell Triangle to the port itself would need to be constructed.

The WA government will now spend $97.2 million to progress the options for the future port, including developed a detailed design for rail connections to the port.

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said that the state was already supporting getting more freight onto rail.

“We have reached our target of 20 per cent of freight onto rail, a record number, that translates to 110,000 trucks off our roads each year.”

WA resumes free late night trains

This weekend will see late night trains running again in Perth.

The decision to reinstate the 1am and 2am services from Perth and 2.50am service from Fremantle follows the re-opening of nightlife businesses in the state. Phase 4 of the WA lifting of coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions come into effect at 11.59pm on Friday, June 26, allowing nightclubs, bars, and live music venues to re-open.

The services that will run again include 1.15am and 2.15am trains on the Joondalup/Mandurah lines from Perth Underground, 1am and 2.15am services on the Armadale/Midland lines from Perth Station, and services between Fremantle and Perth.

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said that by having these trains back in service it will support hospitality and entertainment businesses.

“As our nightclubs and live music venues begin to re-open, it’s important we head back into the CBD and support our small businesses – reintroducing our free late night train services will give patrons a safe and hassle-free way to get home.”

Staff to run these trains have been quickly mobilised.

“I also want to thank our public transport employees, who have again stepped up to support the community during the pandemic. I appreciate the transport workers accepting short notice changes to their night shifts to make it possible,” said Saffioti.

Community chooses new station name

3,500 locals have chosen High Wycombe as the name for the final station on Perth’s new Forrestfield-Airport Link line.

Once complete, the line will be known as the Airport Line and will terminate in Perth’s eastern suburbs.

Saffioti said that early work on the station had begun.

“The start of construction for the car park is another step towards completion of the station precinct and will provide a further boost for local jobs.”

The Forrestfield-Airport Link is part of the Metronet project in Perth. Trains are expected to run on the line, which travels underneath Perth airport by 20201.

Transperth reduces speed of trains due to extreme heat

The temperature reached a top of 43 degrees in Perth on Tuesday, February 4 and train speeds were reduced to prevent distortion of steel tracks.

Transperth said in a social media post on Tuesday that “due to current temperatures heat restrictions are in place across the network”. 

The Transperth train network put temporary speed restrictions across the network when track-level temperatures reach 37 degrees. 

Trains are reduced by about 20kmh on the Fremantle, Midland, and Armadale line when the temperature hits 37 degrees and on the Mandurah, Joondalup, and Thornlie lines once the temperature reaches 39 degrees.

Train speeds are reduced by a further 10kmh if track temperatures reach 41 degrees, and when temperatures drop back below 37C and 39C respectively, the restrictions are lifted.

Western Australia Public Transport Authority (PTA) said in a statement that heat speed restrictions have been imposed every summer in Perth for more than 30 years.

“The impact was greatly reduced as the Public Transport Authority progressively replaced wooden sleepers with concrete,” WA PTA said.

“Track with concrete sleepers is much less affected by the heat. All the PTA’s mainline urban track has had concrete sleepers for several years.”

The restriction is in line with national and international operating and safety standards, that recognises that extreme weather can affect  steel track.

The WA PTA said heat-related speed restrictions are imposed around the world, while some countries also impose restrictions because of other climatic or environmental factors.

“Parts of Britain have speed restrictions in autumn if tracks are covered with leaves, which can affect traction,” they said.