New AvonLink train rolls into service for the first time
The new $12million AvonLink train made its maiden trip from Northam to the city this morning - in the process officially marking the end of service for the 'old' Prospector railcars, which have travelled the route for more than 30 years.
The new AvonLink is the final part of a $56million contract with NSW-based United Goninan, covering the delivery of nine railcars, configured into four trains - the two-car AvonLink, two two-car Prospectors and a three-car Prospector.
Apart from linking Northam and Toodyay to Midland on weekdays, the same train will also service Merredin and stops including Cunderdin, Tammin, Kellerberrin, Doodlakine and Hines Hill three days a week.
After 34 years of service, the old Prospector railcars completed their last working journey on the AvonLink service to Northam last Friday, with the final trip carrying about 50 members of the Australian Railway Historical Society.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure Adele Farina said the new AvonLink provided a new level of service to passengers.
With the Avon Descent starting this weekend from Northam, Ms Farina said the introduction of the new service was timely.
"Avon Descent Week is a great time to showcase the new service," she said.
"From today, passengers will enjoy a smoother, quieter and slightly faster ride from Northam to Midland.
"As the price of petrol rises, good public transport options become even more important for outlying communities.
"The new AvonLink delivers a new era in public transport for the Northam, Toodyay and Merredin communities and is part of our commitment to ensuring outlying communities receive their fair share of infrastructure investment."
Capable of speeds of up to 160km/hr, the new AvonLink can take up to 138 passengers.
Swan Hills MLA Jaye Radisich welcomed the new service.
"The new AvonLink is an exciting development for our rail transport network," Ms Radisich said.
Ms Radisich said she looked forward to local Swan Valley residents being able to access the AvonLink in the future as part of the Gallop Government's commitment to establish a new trial AvonLink stop at Herne Hill.
"I look forward to the completion of the design and planning work for the new trial Swan Valley train stop over the coming months, followed by the procurement of the signalling equipment and the awarding of the construction contract," she said.
The new AvonLink has undergone extensive testing and trials prior to acceptance by Transwa.