Thursday, July 20, 2006

Threat to Australind Rail Services 

A friend is coming up on the Australind tomorrow from Bunbury. She'll arrive at the Perth railway station at 8.30am, spend the day here, and catch the 5.30pm Australind service home.

My friend, with much anger, told me that Minister for Planning and Infrastructure Alannah McTiernan has proposed dropping one of the two daily Australind services. Instead, passengers will travel on extra coach services to Mandurah, once the Perth-Mandurah rail line is complete, where they will then catch trains into the city. The proposal, and an invitation to comment, can be read at the TransWA Web site.

According to the media release 'Bunbury to be linked to the Perth-to-Mandurah railway' (20 June 2006), "The Minister said the Australind would still make one trip a day, from Perth at 9am and from Bunbury on the return trip at 2.45pm."

People who wish to take the train to and from the city will now be forced to stay overnight, an expense people travelling to attend medical appointments may not be able to afford.

My friend has a physical disability and prefers the extra leg room on the train. She's not the only one. Dennis Wordsworth, a Margaret River resident, believes the changes will disadvantage seniors. The Augusta Margaret River Mail reports:

Mr Wordsworth said the Australind train service is valued by the local community, particularly the elderly, who are able to book a seat, carry on luggage, access toilet facilities, as well as enjoy a more comfortable standard of transport.

"The plan to replace one of the return trips of this train service with coach transport will result in a significant loss of service to residents of the South West," he said.

"The train gives me a better chance to meet new people, stretch my legs and protect my two new knees and stretch my back.

"I don't travel much at present, however my wife and I are both approaching 75, and when we are unable to drive we will both have to use it for medical appointments or to see relatives."

'Train service petition' (Augusta Margaret River Mail, 2006)

In Collie, Henny Earnshaw is concerned about losing a piece of South West history if the Australind is scrapped completely. Her local member of parliament, Collie-Wellington MLA Mick Murray is for the changes. From the Collie Mail:

Collie-Wellington MLA Mick Murray said he supported the proposal to have extra coach services from Bunbury to Mandurah replace some Australind train services.

"I think its a great idea because there will be an extra six services out of Bunbury," he said.

"The service will allow more flexibility for travellers."

Mr Murray said he would campaign for Collie travellers to have a coach service which would allow them to not have to go to Bunbury.

"I certainly will be grizzling to get a service for Collie where you can hook up with a coach at the bottom of Rowlands or dropped off at Brunswick," he said.

'Fight to save history' (Collie Mail, 29 June 2006)

Coaches currently connect with the Australind from Collie and, according to McTiernan's media release, there will be coach replacements for the Australind services. The coaches won't go all the way into East Perth and instead will connect with suburban trains at Armadale. If this goes ahead, it will be impossible to travel between Bunbury and Perth on government services without making a transfer. Private operator South West Coach Lines currently runs services from Bunbury to Perth via Mandurah without transfers.

The Collie Mail article is also posted at Railway Page, where user The Vinelander has commented,

People prefer trains..END OF STORY!

And this from Labor Government.

From the Opposition comes 'Castrilli backs South West call to save the Australind' (, 5 July 2006). According to the Augusta Margaret River Mail, next month both South West Region MLC Barry House and Bunbury MLA John Castrilli will present petitions on the issue to parliament.

Barry House is quoted as saying, "Clearly this proposal suits the people of Perth at the expense of inconveniencing the elderly and the people of the regional areas who clearly need this service the most."

I don't know how this is convenient to Perth people. I live in Perth and I need to get down south on public transport. Catching the train into the city, then catching a train to Mandurah, then a bus to Bunbury and possibly transferring to a different bus to Busselton doesn't sound convenient to me.

A community group has formed to oppose the changes:

A group called Save the Australind is passing two petitions against the proposal around the region that will be presented to the Upper and Lower Houses of State Parliament next month.

Spokeswoman Catherine Hardcastle says the group is also organising a public rally to coincide with the tabling of the petitions.

Ms Hardcastle says community feeling against the proposal is strong.

'Rally planned against rail changes plan' (ABC Online, 17 July 2006).

If you have more information, a comment, an idea or an opposing view, please post a comment or let me know.

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