For a Better Brisbane

Perth’s Rail Revolution: Perth to Mandurah (NewMetroRail)

Credits: ‘NewMetroRail’ Public Transport Authority of WA/TransPerth

In 1979, the WA state government closed down the Fremantle railway line as a first step to closing
down Perth’s rail system. The BrisUrbane Blog continues its Perth series looking at an overview of Perth’s NewMetroRail project- a project which involved building the 70 km Perth-Mandurah line (the same distance as from Brisbane to the Gold Coast).

One can only guess why TransPerth called the project “NewMetroRail”. It certainly resulted in infrastructure that allows trains with good frequency on it. While Perth does not technically have a metro system (yet), the main ingredient of a metro is a very high frequency train service, and Perth’s trains would only be an upgrade or two away from one.

The video was produced by continuum resources and is divided into three sections.

The first section introduces the NewMetroRail project and various rail upgrades. At 0:42 minutes, the interior
of the trains is shown. That’s right- Perth’s new trains are the same as the new trains in Brisbane!

A number of new stations were constructed, including in the Perth CBD, including underground stations
in the CBD, so in some ways it is similar to Brisbane’s Cross River Rail project.

In the second section, the route from Mandurah is outlined. The stations on the Mandurah line are
spaced well apart to allow the train to reach very high speed, an average of 90km/hour, compared to
other Australian cities where the average speed is about ~30 km/hour. It is important to note that not all Perth railway lines are like this.

The line runs through standard, sprawling suburbia. Feeder bus interchanges and park and ride integration are used to bring people to the railway because, being in the middle of a freeway, it is a bit hard to get walk up patronage.

The Mt Henry Bridge has been strengthened to allow trains to travel down the middle.

This is very interesting for Brisbane. If Perth can strengthen an existing bridge to allow massive, heavy trains to run on them, then this leaves wide open the very tantalising possibility that Brisbane’s Victoria bridge could be strengthened to allow Light Rail to cross it. The Lord Mayor’s Mass Transit Report 2007 (page 60), included in the financial evaluation a $94 million Adelaide Street Bridge to allow surface Light Rail into the CBD from West End for the LRT option. This blog will look further into this possibility.

Closer to the Perth CBD, a previous freeway busway existed, and this also required conversion.

Canning Bridge bus station will be converted to a train station. From here the railway will run
in the existing busway lanes.

In the third section, the rail line’s entry into the Perth CBD is detailed. Tunnel boring machines
(TBMs) were used to bore twin tunnels underneath the Perth CBD and underground stations were installed.
That’s what Brisbane should be doing with its Tunnel Boring Machines- building rail tunnels!

In summary, there was a lot of work that went into this project, and the engineering tasks alone
must have been huge. The good news is that freeway corridors now seem to be fair game for ‘sprawl repair’
through conversion to public transport corridors and that it is quite possible to get good patronage enough to support heavy rail operation despite low density, if you integrate the system with buses, cycling and park & rides.


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January 22, 2011 at 11:25 pm

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