The 33-year-old ageing Australind train will be taken out of service for repairs after an issue with the railcar’s axle boxes was identified.
In recent years the ageing train, which was first introduced in 1987 and was designed to have a 30-year working life, has been increasingly beset by mechanical problems.
The train should have been replaced prior to 2017, once it reached the end of its 30-year working life – however the previous Liberal Government refused to plan for or fund a replacement.
While replacement axle boxes always have a long lead time, especially for a train as old as the Australind, normal supply chain arrangements have been disrupted because of COVID-19.
The Australind will be replaced by two accessible Transwa road coaches, one of which will run express between Bunbury and Perth with a stop at Kwinana Station. The other road coach will service the communities along the Australind route.
The train is expected to be back in service in early 2021.
A range of initiatives will be offered to passengers to compensate for the inconvenience including:
- fares will be discounted by 75 per cent for all passengers whilst repairs are undertaken;
- frequent passengers who have travelled on the Australind three or more times between July and November 2020 will receive 10 free trips;
- one daily return coach will stop at Kwinana Station to allow passengers to transfer to the Transperth rail network if they choose to;
- free newspapers and refreshments for morning Bunbury to Perth passengers.
The McGowan Government is committed to delivering its election commitment to replace the Australind train.
No planning or development work had been undertaken by the previous Liberal Government, meaning all work had to start from scratch in 2017 after the train had already met the end of its working life and should have been replaced.
Six new railcars have been ordered as part of a 10-year, $1.25 billion contract announced by the McGowan Government late last year.
The new Australind railcars are expected to be delivered in 2023.
As stated by Transport Minister Rita Saffioti:
“The Australind railcars are the oldest operational trains on our rail network and were designed to have a 30-year working life.
“We have worked hard to maintain the current Australind despite the fact it should have been replaced prior to 2017.
“The Liberal Party turned their backs on the people of Bunbury and Murray-Wellington when they refused to plan or fund the replacement of the Australind when it was needed most.
“As a result of this neglect, the McGowan Government had to start the process from scratch and ensured the project was funded in our first budget.
“We are working hard to bring the Australind back as soon as possible, but in the meantime we want to do the right thing by our passengers.
“We have negotiated a deal for six new diesel Australind railcars which will be built locally in Bellevue and delivered in 2023.
“We will run rail replacement coaches between Bunbury and Perth while the Australind is being fixed and apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.”
As stated by Murray-Wellington MLA Robyn Clarke:
“I want my community to know that they will still have access to transport between Perth, Bunbury and our local towns.
“I know how important connectivity is, which is why I worked hard to make sure a replacement Australind train was put on the agenda as a key 2017 election commitment.
“I know how disappointed a lot of community members will be to see the Australind out of service again and want to assure passengers that ensuring our towns remain connected is a priority for the McGowan Government.”
As stated by Bunbury MLA Don Punch:
“The Australind is a popular method of transport between Bunbury and Perth and I know a lot of people will be disappointed that it will be temporarily out of service but we will not compromise safety.
“It is frustrating to know we are in this position because the previous government did not live up to its responsibilities and replace the Australind when it should have, but the McGowan Government is doing everything it can to minimise the impacts on passengers.
“We know just how valued this service is by the people of the South-West so we are running high quality coaches twice a day, with a number of incentives to be offered to help compensate for this inconvenience.
“The McGowan Government has worked hard to maintain the Australind, and while we wait for the repairs to take place, we want to ensure we offer passengers the best experience possible.
“Our Government has a plan to deliver six new railcars for the Australind, which are due in 2023.”