The Australasian Railway Association has supported the WA Government’s investigation into the viability, benefits and costs of a Fast Rail link connecting Perth to the regional city of Bunbury.
The trains would be able to travel up to 180km/h and could transport passengers from one end to the other in less than an hour along the Forrest Highway corridor.
The proposal would be to provide a sub-90min rail link between the two cities with the current existing rail service, the Australind, taking two hours and 30 minutes.
Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said this was “planning for the future”.
“We’re ensuring Bunbury has quality access to public transport, with six new Australind railcars to be built locally in WA and on track to be delivered in 2023,” she said.
The Government has also released a State Infrastructure Strategy to support future government decision making in relation to connectivity and land use in the South West region, and potentially other regional centres in the state.
ARA Chief Executive Officer Caroline Wilkie said greater use of rail will be an essential part of the country’s sustainable future.
“Faster rail networks will be crucial to connecting our cities with growing regional centres,” she said.
“We know that when catching the train takes the same time or less as driving, more people will choose public transport instead of getting behind the wheel.
“Immediate investment in existing networks to improve the speed, reliability and frequency of rail services is the first step in this process.”
One of the submissions to the draft plan has put forward a more all-encompassing “rapid rail network” concept, which would stretch from Geraldton to Esperance with stops in major cities and small regional towns.
This would involve thousands of kilometres of railways to link the Midwest, metropolitan Perth, South West, Great Southern, southern Wheatbelt and southern Goldfields, to be built ahead of forecast population growth in the regions.
Some local governments are already calling for the reopening of the former passenger service from Albany to Perth, which closed in 1978. Currently, the route is now solely used for freight.