How to get around the WA rail crisis
A rail crisis is brewing across the WA.
The state’s rail network is teetering on the brink of collapse, with only 24% of freight trains operating on the system in 2016, according to new figures.
The figures, released by the Department of Transport, are the latest in a series of statistics released since the state government began to roll out a new rail network last September.
Transport Minister Paul Fletcher told a press conference in Perth on Thursday that only 24.4% of rail services operated by WA State Rail were operating as of July this year.
That was down from the 26.6% average since 2014.
“It is clear that WA’s rail infrastructure is not performing as expected and that there are growing pressures on the rail network,” Fletcher said.
Fletcher said he had directed Transport Minister Mike Gallacher to take action, including ordering all trains to be rerouted to the north.
He said a plan to reduce train congestion across the state had been put into action.
‘We’ve got to get it right’ The WA State Railway Authority (WSARA), which is the state’s railway operator, said it had taken a series in-depth measures to reduce overcrowding.
It said the statewide network of trains operating as normal was down by 14% since the beginning of this year, as of May 1.
But the numbers are skewed, as there are fewer trains operating than there are people, with just 8,200 passengers per train, compared with 30,000 per train in 2016.
Rail service to and from the state capital of Perth was suspended for three days after a train caught fire at the station in September, but this was not followed by a full shutdown of rail service.
WSAra said the problem was compounded by a lack of training for railway staff and the “failure of some operators to implement the plan to upgrade and improve their infrastructure”.
The WA Government is investing $7 billion to upgrade rail infrastructure.
As the number of trains in WA’s network continues to fall, more people are expected to die as a result of the rail crisis, which is expected to grow by 15% in the next three years.
In a statement on Thursday, Fletcher said the WA Government was “well-placed” to help alleviate the pressure on WA’s railway infrastructure.
“The rail network has been operating in a difficult environment for many years and I believe the WA State Government will be able to help the state achieve the highest quality of service,” he said.
“Rail is the lifeline for our people and the future of our state depends on our ability to deliver it safely and effectively.”
The Federal Government announced in November that it was investing $300 million to upgrade WA’s railways and train network, but has yet to announce its final investment.
Last week, the WA Premier Mark McGowan said the State Government was still waiting for details of the federal Government’s plan to improve rail safety and reliability.
A WA Government spokesman said the Government had not yet released any figures but the number was “largely on target”.
“The WA State Treasurer has already indicated that the $300m package will be delivered as soon as the state has the information and resources it needs,” he added.
However, the Government has also made no announcements on the $1.9 billion rail plan.