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Commuters are getting back on trains, buses, and ferries in Western Australia, with patronage back up to almost 80 per cent of pre COVID-19 levels.
With the state COVID-19 free apart from overseas arrivals, life in Western Australia is beginning to return to pre-COVID norms.
WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said that the state had one of the best returns to public transport of any jurisdiction around the world.
“Western Australians’ return to public transport is back to almost 80 per cent of pre-COVID levels – one of the most successful returns to public transport across the world.”
In the latest publicly available figures, there were 3.755 million train boardings on the Transperth system in August. This is five times the number of boardings in April, which saw the lowest number of boardings with 718,519, and almost 70 per cent of 2019 figures. Patronage levels in September and October have been higher.
Driving the strong growth in patronage is the return of school students, with almost 100 per cent of pre-COVID-19 patronage, and pensioners, who had 90 per cent of pre-COVID levels. Tertiary students, however, remained low, at 60 per cent, due to the possibility and uptake of studying online.
The Western Australian government hopes that these numbers can lead to a return to growth in overall patronage numbers. In 2018-2019 the system saw the first growth in total boardings since 2012-2013. With further connections coming online with the completion of Metronet projects, these numbers are likely to increase.
Perth in particular compares well to other state and international capitals. According to the International Association of Public Transport Sydney is only at 50 per cent of pre-COVID levels, while Brisbane is at 60 per cent and Auckland is at 70 per cent. The ongoing lockdown in Melbourne is leading to patronage figures at 5 to 10 per cent of 2019 levels.
The contract for the construction of the Morley-Ellenbrook line has been signed, with the project coming in at $700 million, with contingency, escalation and ancillary costs taking the total project budget to $1.1bn.
The winning MELconnx Consortium, led by Laing O’Rouke, will deliver the project which involves 21km of new track and is the largest expansion of the Perth rail network since the Mandurah Line.
In addition to the new rail line, the project includes five new stations at Morley, Noranda, Malaga, Whiteman Park, and Ellenbrook, a future station will be developed at Bennett Springs East.
WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the project was already making progress.
“Now the contract has been signed, the funding secured and early works are underway.”
These early works include the New Bayswater Station, where the line will begin from the Midland Line, and the Tonkin Gap Project which allows the line to access in and out of the Tonkin Highway and preparing the corridor for tracklaying.
WA Premier Mark McGowan said the project would boost the local economy.
“Now more than ever, big infrastructure projects like METRONET’s Morley-Ellenbrook Line are imperative to WA’s COVID-19 economic recovery as they create a pipeline of work and support thousands of jobs.”
The project is expected to be completed in 2023-24 and Federal Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Alan Tudge said the benefits would be immediate and longlasting.
“Metronet will re-shape Perth and that transformation is underway all across the metropolitan area,” Tudge said.
“It means jobs right now and critical, targeted infrastructure for generations to come.”
The jointly state-federal funded project would cut public transport times in half for residents in the north-eastern suburbs of Perth, with direct trains from Ellenbrook Station arriving in the Perth CBD in 30 minutes.
MELconnx beat a CPB Contractors and Downer EDI joint venture to win the contract.
The Western Australia government has unveiled a series of works for Perth’s Armadale Line to improve safety and increase access along the line through Perth’s south-eastern suburbs.
The WA government and federal government will jointly fund the removal of up to six level crossings.
The $415 million plan to remove three level crossings at Oats Street, Mint Street, and Welshpool Road, along with assessment of three level crossings at William, Wharf, and Hamilton streets has been submitted to Infrastructure Australia.
Procurement will begin on the Metronet project before the end of 2020, said WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti.
“Submitting the business case to Infrastructure Australia is the next step forward to removing these boom gates,” she said.
The rail line will be raised over the road at the level crossings for up to 2.8 kilometres. The elevated rail option will enable better connections between adjoining communities, safer roads, and less noise.
As part of the WA Recovery Plan, train stations on the Armadale line will be upgraded to improve disability access.
$8 million will be spent on Cannington, Gosnells, and Kelmscott stations to bring them up to the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport 2002 (DSAPT).
These improvements will include better pedestrian access, the relocation of passenger information and ticket vending machines, and better lighting, signage, and CCTV coverage.
At Gosnells station, upgrades to the parking area will be part of the works, while at Kelmscott Station the bus stand infrastructure will also be improved.
“Public transport is for everyone, and we have a responsibility to ensure that anybody using our stations can do so as safely as possible, regardless of their mobility levels,” said Saffioti.
“These upgrades will mean all patrons using Cannington, Gosnells and Kelmscott stations will be able to use Transperth train services with dignity and independence.”
The project is part of the WA Recovery Plan, which has identified projects that can begin immediately and inject activity into the WA economy.
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.
The Western Australian government has announced the successful tenderer for the $36 million contract for tracklaying at Claremont station.
John Holland is the successful contractor and will complete the works at the station, part of the Metronet project.
Scheduled for completion in late 2021, with rail infrastructure operational by mid 2021, the work involves installing turnbacks west of Claremont Station on the Fremantle line.
The turnbacks will allow trains to travel back towards the city after stopping at Claremont. This will allow greater frequency services on the Fremantle and Forrestfield-Airport Link lines. Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said that local and city-wide works required the new infrastructure.
“We know significant development is taking place around Claremont Station – which is currently the third-busiest on the Fremantle Line – and we expect patronage of this station to increase significantly, which is why this upgrade is so important,” she said.
“Claremont Station is located halfway along the Fremantle Line, so is ideally positioned to host turnbacks – it’s a vital part of ensuring our rail network is well-placed to deal with future demand particularly when the Forrestfield- Airport Link comes online in late 2021.”
During normal peak periods turnback one will be used every ten minutes. Turnback two will be used during peak periods and special events as required, or when there are planned or unplanned service disruptions.
In addition to the new track, Claremont station will be upgraded to meet accessibility standards and a new underpass will be constructed. Bus facilities and pedestrian connections are also part of the project.
Saffioti said that works would support the local economy.
“This $36 million contract will help support 300 local jobs in the community, an excellent outcome for the project.”
With tunnelling complete on the Metronet Forrestfield-Airport Link project, tracklaying has now begun along the 8-kilometre-long tunnels.
Martinus Rail will install the 40 kilometres of rail needed to form the track in each tunnel, along with tie-ins at Bayswater and stowage at High Wycombe.
The first kilometre of track has already been laid, and Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan said that this was a significant milestone on the project.
“Tracklaying is one of the final major events on the construction of a rail line – it’s an exciting milestone for this $1.86 billion project, with more than 2,400 tonnes of Australian-made steel being prepared.”
WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said that the project was coming together.
“We’re at an exciting time for this major infrastructure project – the tunnel-boring machines have finished creating our tunnels, our three new stations are taking shape and tracklaying is now underway.”
The 27.5m long pieces of steel are flash-butt welded into 220 metre strings. The Martinus teams have been working simultaneously to weld the rail, transport it and lay it along with the sleepers to form the skeleton track, before concrete is poured to complete the slab track.
Other work is also underway to install the overhead line equipment and the communications and signalling systems.
Roughly 100 jobs are supported by the tracklaying and rail infrastructure stages of the project.
Once complete, the Airport Line will link the Perth CBD with the airport and the eastern suburbs, including Redcliffe and High Wycombe. Thousands of commuters expected to use the rail link each day when trains begin running in late 2021.
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.