South Western Railway, Western Australia

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South Western Railway
Bunbury Bridge East Perth c.1930.jpg
Owner Public Transport Authority
Arc Infrastructure
Termini Perth
Type Commuter rail
Heavy rail
Operator(s) Transperth
Opened22 May 1893 (Perth-Pinjarra)
22 August 1893 (Pinjarra-Bunbury)
Line length181 km (112 mi)
Track gauge 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)
Route map


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North Dandalup
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Alcoa Refinery /
Hotham Valley Line
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Murray River
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Refinery Loop
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Harvey River
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Collie Branch
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Brunswick Junction
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Roelands Quarry Spur
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Collie River
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Picton Yard
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Bunbury Harbour Spur
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Bunbury Terminal
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Bunbury Station

The South Western Railway, also known as the South West Main Line, is the main railway route between Perth and Bunbury in Western Australia.

Harvey station in October 2006 OIC harvey station.jpg
Harvey station in October 2006



The South Western Railway was constructed for the Western Australian Government Railways (WAGR) by various private contractors from 1891. [1] Among these was the engineer and magistrate William W. L. Owen. [2]

Construction was completed in two parts. [3] The first, East Perth to Pinjarra, was undertaken by William Atkins (former mill manager of the Neil McNeil Co. at the Jarrahdale Timber Station) [4] and Robert Oswald Law (who built the Fremantle Long Jetty) from the end of 1891. [1] Work began in 1892 but was slowed by difficulties with building the bridge over the Swan River. [1] [5] This section opened on 22 May 1893. [6] [7]

The second phase of construction was also completed by Atkins and McNeil, starting at Bunbury and working north to Pinjarra opening on 22 August 1893. [1] [3] [7] [6] Bunbury station was opened by Sir John Forrest on 14 November 1894.


As operated by the WAGR, the line was 115 miles 14  chains (185.36 km) from Perth to Bunbury. [8] Since that time, the line has been shortened to 181km as some stations have closed, moved or been replaced by passing loops. [9]

The first 30 kilometres of the line from Perth form Transperth's Armadale Line. This section is double-tracked and electrified using 25 kV AC. [10]
The line south of Armadale is not electrified and predominantly single-track, with passing loops at various locations. The section from Perth to Mundijong Junction is controlled by the Public Transport Authority, with the remainder of the line controlled by Arc Infrastructure. [11]
The section controlled by Arc Infrastructure has been upgraded to accommodate 21 tonne axle loads, featuring concrete sleepers and continuous welded 50kg/m rail. [12]


The Bunbury Bridge near Perth was the most significant engineering structure on the line. It was replaced by the Goongoongup Bridge in 1996.
Other notable bridges include:

  • Jenna Bidi Bridge over the Canning River in Gosnells
  • Murray River Bridge south of Pinjarra
  • Harvey River Bridge north of Harvey
  • Collie River Bridge south of Roelands


The line connects with all Transperth commuter rail lines at Perth, with specific branches to the Midland Line at Claisebrook and the Thornlie Line at Kenwick. [11] [10]
In terms of key freight connectivity, the line branches to the Kwinana Line at Kenwick and Mundijong Junction. [9] The Jarrahdale Branch was accessed at Mundijong, but this line is now out of service. [9] A branch south of Pinjarra serves Alcoa and provides access to the Hotham Valley Branch. [9] [13] The Collie Branch connects at Brunswick Junction, providing access to Worsley Alumina and Collie. [9] At Picton the line once continued a 200km south as the Northcliffe Branch, with further branches to Flinders Bay and Katanning, however only the first few kilometres of this line remain in use. [9] A 10km spur to Bunbury Harbour provides access to the port west of Picton. [11]

Timber Tramways

Several timber mills used to operate along the railway, each with their own access to the mainline. Many of these mills operated extensive timber tramways that fed significant quantities of timber to the railway. [14]



The Transperth commuter rail Armadale Line operates a frequent passenger service at the Perth end of the route.
Beyond Armadale the only passenger service on the line is The Australind . It traverses the entire length of the line from Perth to Bunbury twice a day in each direction, taking about 2 hours and 30 minutes each way. [15] Other named trains that previously operated on the line were the Bunbury Belle and The Shopper .


There are currently 31 passenger stations on the line, of which 20 form the Armadale Line.
Beyond the Armadale Line section, all stations meet Disability Discrimination Act standards. [16] [17] The stations at Brunswick Junction and Bunbury provide connections to Transwa coach services. [15]
A planned extension of the Armadale Line as part of Metronet would see a new station built at Byford. [18]


Freight services on the line are operated by Aurizon and are primarily focused on bauxite and alumina mining and refining. [19] Bulk bauxite is carried from Alcoa Pinjarra to Kwinana for export and bulk alumina is transported from Alcoa Wagerup as well as from Worsley Alumina to Bunbury port. [19] Caustic soda is transported from Bunbury Port to Wagerup and Worsley for use in alumina refining and some coal from the Collie Branch is also carried on the line. [20] [19] Potential exists for the line to carry mineral sands, agricultural produce, lithium ore and containerised freight on the line in the future. [19]

Related Research Articles

The Armadale railway line is a suburban railway line in Western Australia that runs from Perth to Armadale, and continues as the South Western Railway to Bunbury. The line crosses the Swan River at East Perth via the Goongoongup Bridge, and formerly had crossed it via the Bunbury Bridge.

The Fremantle railway line is a suburban railway line in Western Australia that connects the state capital of Perth with the port city of Fremantle.

Perth railway station Railway station in Perth, Western Australia

Perth Railway Station is the largest station on the Transperth network, serving the central business district of Perth, Western Australia. It serves as an interchange between the Armadale, Fremantle, Joondalup, Mandurah and Midland lines as well as Transwa's Australind service.

Armadale railway station, Perth Railway station in Perth, Western Australia

Armadale railway station is a railway station on the South Western Railway, 30 kilometres from Perth station serving the suburb of Armadale, Brookdale and Haynes. It is the terminating point for Transperth Armadale line services and a calling point for Transwa Australind services.

Eastern Railway (Western Australia)

The Eastern Railway is the main railway route between Fremantle and Northam in Western Australia. It opened in stages between 1881 and 1893. The line continues east to Kalgoorlie as the Eastern Goldfields Railway.


Westrail was the trading name of the Western Australian Government Railways (WAGR) from September 1975 until December 2000, when the WAGR's freight division and the Westrail name and logo were privatised.

<i>Australind</i> (train)

The Australind is a rural passenger train service in Western Australia operated by Transwa on the South Western Railway between Perth and Bunbury.

Australian Railroad Group Former railway operator in western Australia

Australian Railroad Group (ARG) was an Australian rail freight operator. It began operations in Western Australia on 17 December 2000 following its purchase of the Westrail freight business. It was purchased by QR National in June 2006. The main commodities hauled by ARG included grain, mineral sands, alumina, bauxite, coal, woodchips, quartz, nickel and iron ore around Western Australia. In June 2011 it ceased trading as a separate brand, and became part of QR National.

Pinjarra, Western Australia Town in Western Australia

Pinjarra is a town in the Peel region of Western Australia along the South Western Highway, 82 kilometres (51 mi) from the state capital, Perth and 21 kilometres (13 mi) south-east of the coastal city of Mandurah. Its local government area is the Shire of Murray. At the 2016 census, Pinjarra had a population of 4910.

Western Australian Government Railways (WAGR) was the operator of railway services in the state of Western Australia between October 1890 and June 2003. Owned by the state government, it was renamed a number of times to reflect extra responsibility for tram and ferry operations that it assumed and later relinquished. Its freight operations were privatised in December 2000 with the remaining passenger operations transferred to the Public Transport Authority in July 2003.

Flinders Bay Branch Railway Former Busselton to Flinders Bay railway line

The Flinders Bay Branch Railway, also known as the Boyanup to Flinders Bay Section ran between Boyanup and Flinders Bay, in South Western Western Australia.

Rockingham railway station, Perth Railway station in Perth, Western Australia

Rockingham station is a railway station on the Transperth network. It is located on the Mandurah line, 43.2 kilometres from Perth station serving the suburb of Cooloongup.

Rail transport in Western Australia

Railways in Western Australia were developed in the 19th century both by the Government of Western Australia and a number of private companies. Today passenger rail services are controlled by the Public Transport Authority through Transperth, which operates public transport in Perth, and Transwa, which operates country passenger services. Great Southern Rail operates the Indian Pacific.

Old Bunbury railway station

The Old Bunbury railway station was the main railway station for Bunbury from 1894 until 1996. It was the terminus for the Australind passenger railway service from Perth. It was replaced in May 1985 by the current Bunbury Terminal in East Bunbury.

Transperth Trains

Transperth Trains is a division of the Public Transport Authority of Western Australia. It is responsible for operating Perth’s urban passenger rail system, as part of the Transperth network.

Western Australian Government Railway lines and operations centres

Western Australian Government Railways railway system during its peak operational time in the 1930s to 1950s was a large system of over 6,400 kilometres (4,000 mi) of railway line.

WAGR Q class (1895)

The WAGR Q class was a six-member class of 4-6-2T tank engine steam locomotives operated by the Western Australian Government Railways (WAGR) between 1896 and 1925.

Public Transport Centre Public transport terminal in Perth, Western Australia

The Public Transport Centre is a terminal and administration building for public transport in Perth Western Australia. It is the centerpiece of East Perth Terminal, a standard gauge railway station and coach terminal adjacent to East Perth station on the Transperth narrow gauge suburban rail network.

Kwinana freight railway

The Kwinana freight railway lines are a network of railways predominantly servicing the heavy industrial areas at Kwinana Beach south of Perth and to provide for the transport of freight servicing Fremantle Harbour, Kewdale Intermodal Facility and other freight destinations Perth. While some lines were constructed in the 1900s, most of the network was constructed in the 1950s and 1960s.

Northcliffe Branch railway

The Northcliffe Branch, also known as the Northcliffe Section or Picton to Northcliffe Line, is the railway route between Picton and Northcliffe in Western Australia.


  1. 1 2 3 4 Gunzburg, Adrian; Austin, Geff (2008). "Table Construction of the W.A Government Railways network, 1879-1931". Rails through the Bush: Timber and Firewood Tramways and Railway Contractors of Western Australia. Perth, Western Australia: Rail Heritage WA. pp. 208–210. ISBN   978-0-9803922-2-7. OL   12330925W.
  2. Owen, William Lambden (1933). Cossack Gold. Angus and Robertson. OL   16795671W.
  3. 1 2 "Perth—Bunbury Railway". The Inquirer & Commercial News . Perth, WA: National Library of Australia. 6 April 1892. p. 4. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  4. Thomas, W. C. (1938). "Mills and Men". Australian Timber Journal.
  5. "The South-Western Railway: Mr Neil McNeil's Picnic". The West Australian . Perth, Western Australia. 19 December 1892. p. 2. Retrieved 14 October 2012.
  6. 1 2 Arnold, John (1993). Rails to Pinjarra 100. Pinjarra: 100 Planning Committee. p. 4. ISBN   0 646 14228 3.
  7. 1 2 Newland, Andrew; Quinlan, Howard (2000). Australian Railway Routes 1854 - 2000. Redfern: Australian Railway Historical Society. p. 64. ISBN   0-909650-49-7.
  8. Western Australian Government Railways (1946). Time Table for passenger, mixed, and goods trains over all lines. Perth: Western Australian Government Railways.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Arc Infrastructure Network Map Arc Infrastructure
  10. 1 2 Kreitling, John (1991). Perth Electric - A new era. Perth: The Western Australian Government Railways Commission (Westrail). ISBN   0 7309 4619 3.
  11. 1 2 3 Public Transport Authority Network Map Public Transport Authority
  12. Arc Infrastructure Network Specifications Arc Infrastructure
  13. "Dwellingup Branch". Hotham Valley Tourist Railway. Retrieved 24 August 2020.
  14. Gunzburg, Adrian; Austin, Jeff (2008). Rails through the Bush: Timber and Firewood Tramways and Railway Contractors of Western Australia. Perth: Rail Heritage WA.
  15. 1 2 Australind Timetable Transwa
  16. Transwa Stopping Place Locations Transwa
  17. Cookernup Station Upgrade Public Transport Authority
  18. Byford Rail Extension Public Transport Authority
  19. 1 2 3 4 Draft South West Supply Chain Strategy Department of Transportation
  20. "Coal Processing & Delivery". Premier Coal. Retrieved 24 August 2020.

Further reading