Western Australian Government Railways

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Western Australian Government Railways
DB1588 Forrestfield, 1986.JPG S2106 Full Westrail Yellow.jpg
  • DB1588 in the orange & blue livery and
  • S2106 in the yellow & blue livery
Agency overview
Formed1 October 1890
Preceding
  • Department of Works & Railways
Dissolved30 June 2003
Superseding agency
Jurisdiction Western Australia
Headquarters Public Transport Centre
Key document

The Western Australian Government Railways (WAGR), trading as Westrail from 1975 to 2000, was the state government-owned operator of railway services in the state of Western Australia between October 1890 and June 2003. Its freight operations were privatised and sold to Australian Railroad Group in December 2000 with the remaining passenger operations transferred to the Public Transport Authority in July 2003.

Contents

History of operations

Preserved S542 at the Public Transport Centre in April 2006 WAGR 542 (5361066016).jpg
Preserved S542 at the Public Transport Centre in April 2006
Preserved C1702 at the Hotham Valley Railway in September 2011 in the original diesel livery Locomotive C1702.jpg
Preserved C1702 at the Hotham Valley Railway in September 2011 in the original diesel livery
J104 at Forrestfield in March 1986 in Westrail livery J104 Forrestfield, 1986.JPG
J104 at Forrestfield in March 1986 in Westrail livery
The Prospector crossing the Swan River at Guildford in April 1986 Prospector Guildford, 1986.JPG
The Prospector crossing the Swan River at Guildford in April 1986

The WAGR had its origins in 1879 when the Department of Works & Railways was established; [1] in 1890, the Department was separated into the WAGR and the Department of Works & Buildings (later the Public Works Department). [1] [2]

The first government-owned railway line opened on 26 July 1879 between Geraldton and Northampton, followed by the Eastern Railway from Fremantle to Guildford via Perth on 1 March 1881. [3] [4] The WAGR adopted the narrow gauge of 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) in order to reduce construction costs. Over the following decades, an extensive network of main lines and branches throughout Western Australia would be built, primarily to service the wheatbelt. [5] Prior to the expanded use of road transport, the network was of vital importance in the state, particularly for the moving of agricultural, forestry and mining products.

The WAGR network was joined to that of the rest of mainland Australia, albeit to 4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge , a different gauge, in October 1917 with the opening of the Commonwealth Railways' Trans-Australian Railway to Kalgoorlie.

Legislative restrictions were implemented to limit competition from road transport, most notably from the 1930s through to the 1950s, when the Transport Co-ordination Board kept strict control over commercial road traffic through powers vested by the State Transport Co-ordination Act 1933. [6] As road transportation expanded and losses escalated, many lines closed from 1949. [5]

The network peaked in 1937 at 6,600 kilometres. Unusually for such a large network, only one tunnel was required, the Swan View Tunnel. [7] A few isolated lines were operated, such as the Marble Bar line in the Pilbara and the Hopetoun-Ravensthorpe line on the South Coast. With many lines in need of heavy maintenance, rolling stock in need of replacement and heavy losses being incurred, during the 1950s many branches closed with 1,320 kilometres of the network so treated in 1956/57, although 275 kilometres were subsequently reopened on a seasonal basis. [3] [4] [5]

In the late 1960s, the Eastern and Eastern Goldfields lines between Perth and Kalgoorlie was gauge converted to allow through operation of trains from the eastern states along with the Esperance & Menzies lines, with sections through the Avon River and east of Southern Cross built on new alignments. A concerted program of dieselisation saw diesel locomotives replace the last steam locomotives in March 1972. [5]

In September 1975, the WAGR adopted the trading name Westrail and an associated logo as part of a complete program to improve the WAGR's public image. [8] [9] [10] Every visible feature of the organisation was to be associated with the new Westrail identity; the transition from WAGR to Westrail quickly began, with the new name rapidly and almost universally replacing the old one in the vocabulary of staff and the public. [11] However, the official name of the WAGR was not changed. [12] Westrail also relocated its office headquarters to a new passenger facility at East Perth Terminal (then known as Perth Terminal). The new building, named the Westrail Centre (today the Public Transport Centre), was opened by the Premier of Western Australia, Sir Charles Court, on 12 November 1976. [13]

In October 1987, it was announced by Premier Brian Burke and Federal Minister for Land Transport & Infrastructure Support, Peter Duncan, that a merger of Westrail with Australian National was being investigated. [14] However, no merger resulted. [15]

In the late 20th century, the end of restrictions on competing road transport resulted in the WAGR and its successors moving from being a small customer-oriented system to a predominantly main line bulk carrier operation. This resulted in many smaller communities losing their facilities. However, in the wheatbelt, bulk handling of grain continued despite the changes.

On 17 December 2000, the WAGR's freight division along with the Westrail name and logo were privatised and sold to Australia Western Railroad, a subsidiary of the Australian Railroad Group (ARG). [16] The sale also included a 49-year lease on the WAGR's freight lines to ARG (and its successors). [17] [18] The WAGR, now operating as the Western Australian Government Railways Commission, retained ownership of the rail network and regional passenger services, The Australind , AvonLink and The Prospector as well as regional coach services. [18] . [16] [19]

WAGR ceased on 30 June 2003 and its functions transferred to the Public Transport Authority. [20] [16]

Names

The WAGR was renamed a number of times to reflect extra responsibility for tram and ferry operations that it assumed and later relinquished.

Inquiries and Commissions

A range of committees of inquiry as well as Royal Commissions were conducted on aspects of the railways between 1893 and 1959, [33] however to appreciate the number of commissions that had relevance to railway operations, the coal and wheat industries were linked with the railway operations as well. [34] The following are only a selected group of commissions:

Acquisitions

The WAGR purchased the Great Southern Railway in December 1896 and the Midland Railway of Western Australia in August 1964. [45]

Services

The WAGR operated a wide variety of services throughout its history, including the more standard country and suburban passenger and freight workings as well as a limited electrified service, early country railcar services, road bus services and overnight sleeper services to distant destinations.

Named services

U657 hauling The Australind in 1950 U657 + The Australind, 1950.jpg
U657 hauling The Australind in 1950

Although some passenger trains were bestowed nicknames, it wasn't until The Westland was launched in 1938, that a service was officially named. Further trains were named in the 1960s in an effort to increase the prestige of rail travel. [4]

NameOriginDestinationCommencedCeased
Albany Progress Perth Albany 19611978
Albany Weekender PerthAlbany19641975
The Australind Perth Bunbury 1947present
Bunbury Belle PerthBunbury19641975
The Shopper PerthBunbury19641975
The Midlander Perth Geraldton 19641975
The Westland Perth Kalgoorlie 19381969
The Kalgoorlie PerthKalgoorlie19621971
The Prospector East Perth Kalgoorlie1971present
The Mullewa Perth Mullewa 19611974

Unnamed services

The WAGR operated services from Perth to many destinations throughout the state. In 1935, it operated 63 sleeper services a week. It also operated local passenger, many operating as mixed trains. The last of these ceased in 1973. [4]

Electrified services

While the current Perth urban passenger network operated by Transperth is entirely electrified, between May 1924 and March 1969 the State Electricity Commission operated the only electrified line in Western Australia as part of the WAGR network. The line was 800 metres in length and operated within the confines of the East Perth Power Station. [46] The electric locomotive used on the railway is preserved at the Western Australian Rail Transport Museum in Bassendean, though is currently not on display. [47]

Country diesel railcar services

Governor class railcars at Midland Junction in 1939 ADE 451 + ADT 7, Midland, 1939.jpg
Governor class railcars at Midland Junction in 1939
Road coaches outside Bunbury station Bunbury Railway Station with buses in 1970s.jpg
Road coaches outside Bunbury station

In December 1937, the Governor class diesel railcars were introduced on daylight regional services from Perth. [4] The longer distance services remained locomotive hauled. [48]

Road bus service

Where lines were closed in the 1940s and 1950s, or passenger services discontinued, road bus services were introduced. Most of the services and the same routes continue to the present.

The rail-road services commenced on 24 November 1941 with one vehicle operating a service from Perth to Kojonup via Boddington. [32] [49] By 1949, there were 28 buses. [50] and by 1959, more than fifty. [5] Dual-purpose buses that also carried freight were introduced in 1949. Buses operated included Fodens, articulated trailer buses, AECs, Leyland Lions, Hino RC320Ps and Mercedes-Benz O303s. [51]

In the late 1960s, long distance coaches operated from Perth to Meekatharra, Esperance, Geraldton and Albany. [52]

In the early 1970s the WAGR Bus service included seasonal six-day Wildflower Study Tours from Perth and along roads to and from Geraldton through the northern wheatbelt. [53] These had first been operated in 1948 by the Midland Railway of Western Australia. Also in the early 1970s, the King Karri Scenicruiser buses ran from Bunbury through Manjimup, Pemberton, Northcliffe and Walpole to Albany at the same time the Albany Progress overnight train was still operating, making it possible to do a round trip by rail from Perth to Albany and bus from Albany to Perth via Bunbury. [54]

In the mid-1970s some services reflected where rail services had either closed or had ceased providing facilities for passengers, the following selection is not the total service at the time. [55]

Railway road truck services

There were also road-freight services, while the restrictions on non-government trucking were still in force, with suburban truck services from Perth to Midland, Fremantle, Kewdale and Gosnells. The country services were extensive having Perth and country rail stations as terminal locations. [56]

Liveries

AA1517 in Westrail livery with carriages in WAGR larch green and cream livery near Kelmscott in December 1986 AA1517 Kelmscott-Challis, 1986.JPG
AA1517 in Westrail livery with carriages in WAGR larch green and cream livery near Kelmscott in December 1986

Until 1951, most steam locomotives were painted black. From that date, locomotives used on passenger services were painted green. The early diesel locomotives were painted green, with a red stripe later added. In the late 1960s, a grey and light blue livery was introduced. [3] The latter was resurrected by South Spur Rail Services in the early 2000s. [57]

Carriages were painted Indian red, before a larch green and cream livery was introduced in October 1951. When launched in 1964, The Midlander stock was painted in a maroon and ivory livery. [4] When the Westrail brand was introduced in 1975, an orange with blue stripe livery was applied to its locomotives and passenger vehicles. Freight rolling stock and road trucks were painted yellow, and blue was used on all signs, buildings and printed material. The Westrail logo incorporated a stylised "W" surmounted by a solid bar representing a railway track. Between the bar and the "W" was the word "Westrail". [11] In July 1997, a yellow with blue livery was unveiled when the first Q class diesel-electric locomotive was delivered. [58]


Rolling stock

The WAGR operated a large number of unique steam, diesel and electric locomotive classes. Most of the steam locomotives were built in the United Kingdom, with the WAGR's Midland Railway Workshops building some from 1915. The early diesels were mainly built by Beyer, Peacock and Company in England, Clyde Engineering in Sydney, and English Electric in Brisbane. Later diesels were assembled in Perth.

The WAGR built much of its carriage and wagon stock at the Midland Railway Workshops. From the late 1930s, the WAGR operated diesel railcars such as the Governor and Wildflower classes.

Chief Mechanical Engineer

Chief Mechanical Engineer was the highest posting at the Midland Railway Workshops, which in turn managed (through construction, repair and design) all aspects of railway maintenance and equipment. The post was established in 1900 and abandoned in 1989. [59]

Lines and operational centres

See Western Australian Government Railway lines and operations centres

Legacy and preservation

A number of former WAGR locomotives and rolling stock types, as well as many examples of WAGR architecture and railway infrastructure have been preserved, with the Hotham Valley Railway and Rail Heritage WA holding extensive collections. [60] [61] Some items are preserved interstate, notably by the Pichi Richi Railway. [62] With the deregulation of the Australian rail market in the 1990s, former WAGR rolling stock has operated in other states, with L class locomotives having operated in the eastern states for ATN Access, Aurizon and Pacific National.

Publications

In September 1970, WAGR News Letter was launched as a staff newsletter. The last edition was published in December 1973, with Movement superseding it. [63] [64] [65] [66] Movement later became the Westrail News Letter which was published 1975 to 1981. [67]


See also

Related Research Articles

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.

<i>AvonLink</i>

The AvonLink is a rural passenger train service in Western Australia operated by Transwa between Midland and Northam.

<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.

Midland Railway of Western Australia

The Midland Railway of Western Australia (MRWA) was a railway company that built and operated the Midland line in Western Australia. It was listed on the London Stock Exchange. Although having its headquarters in London, it had no association with the English Midland Railway.

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.

Marble Bar Railway Port Hedland to Marble Bar railway line in Western Australia

The Port Hedland–Marble Bar railway was a railway in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, running into the hinterland from the north-west coast.

The Northern Railway has had a number of meanings in Western Australian railway history.

South Western Railway, Western Australia

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

WAGR X class

The X Class were a class of diesel locomotive built by Beyer, Peacock & Company and Metropolitan-Vickers, Bowesfield Works, Stockton-on-Tees for the Western Australian Government Railways between 1954 and 1956.

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.

WAGR Y class

The Y class was a class of diesel locomotives built by Clayton Equipment Company, Hatton for the Western Australian Government Railways between 1953 and 1955.

WAGR Dd class

The WAGR Dd class was a class of 4-6-4T tank locomotive operated by the Western Australian Government Railways (WAGR) between 1946 and 1972.

WAGR W class

The WAGR W class was a class of 4-8-2 steam locomotives operated by the Western Australian Government Railways (WAGR) between 1951 and 1972.

WAGR S class

The WAGR S class was a class of 4-8-2 steam locomotives built by the Midland Railway Workshops between 1943 and 1947 and operated by the Western Australian Government Railways (WAGR).

WAGR K class

The K-class was a class of 2-8-4T steam locomotives of the Western Australian Government Railways


The Esperance Branch Railway is a railway from Kalgoorlie to the port of Esperance in Western Australia.

Wheatbelt railway lines of Western Australia

The wheatbelt railway lines of Western Australia were, in most cases, a network of railway lines in Western Australia that primarily served the Wheatbelt region.

WAGR U class

The WAGR U class was a class of 4-6-2 steam locomotives operated by the Western Australian Government Railways (WAGR) between 1946 and the late 1960s. One was rebuilt as a 4-6-4 tank locomotive.

WAGR Pm and Pmr classes

The WAGR Pm and Pmr classes were two classes of 4-6-2 tender engine steam locomotives operated by the Western Australian Government Railways (WAGR) between 1950 and the early 1970s.

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.

References

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  2. "AU WA A33 - Western Australian Government Railways [1]". State Records Office of Western Australia . Retrieved 4 June 2018.
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  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Higham, Geoffrey (2007). Marble Bar to Mandurah: A history of passenger rail services in Western Australia. Bassendean: Rail Heritage WA. pp. 10, 35, 44, 46, 57, 58, 111, 118, 119. ISBN   978-0-9803922-0-3.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 Affleck, Fred (1978). On Track: The making of Westrail 1950 - 1976. Perth: Western Australian Railways Commission. pp. 8, 9, 37, 144. ISBN   0-7244-7560-5.
  6. State Transport Co-ordination Act 1933 Government of Western Australia
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  13. Affleck 1978 , pp. 213–214
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  15. AN-Westrail Integration: An Assessment of Options Bureau of Transport Economics May 1988
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  28. Our History 1951 to 1975 Public Transport Authority
  29. Our History Brookfield Rail
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  32. 1 2 Annual Report for year ended 30 June 2003 Western Australian Government Railways Commission
  33. Zalums, E. (Elmar); Stafford, H. (Helen) (1980), A bibliography of Western Australian royal commissions, select committees of parliament and boards of inquiry, 1870-1979, E. Zalums & H. Stafford, ISBN   978-0-9594506-0-6
  34. http://www.parliament.wa.gov.au/intranet/libpages.nsf/589198976847966848256e5a0008666d/576f693668722e924825774300287922?OpenDocument List of Royal Commissions
  35. Appointed:17/05/1893. Report:05/10/1893 in Western Australian Government Gazette No. 25, 18 May 1893, p.540
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  38. 15/09/1906 04/10/1906 WAGG No. 63, 28 September 1906, p. 2935 Tabled Paper A6/1906 6th/2nd 1906 - Vol II
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  41. Royal Commission Appointed to Enquire into (Inter Alia) the Supply of Local Coal to the Western Australian Government Railways; Gibson, Alexander J (1948), Second interim report of the Royal Commission Appointed to Enquire into (Inter Alia) the Supply of Local Coal to the Western Australian Government Railways, Govt. Pr, retrieved 7 October 2016
  42. Western Australia. Royal Commission Appointed to Inquire into the Midland Junction Railway Workshops; Gibson, Alex J (1947), First interim report of the Royal Commission Appointed to Inquire into the Midland Junction Workshops of the Western Australian Government Railways, Govt. Printer], retrieved 7 October 2016
  43. Royal Commission Appointed to Inquire into the Management, workings and control of the Western Australian Government Railways; Gibson, Alexander J; Du Plessis, D. H. C (1947), Report of the Royal Commission appointed to inquire into the Western Australian Government Railways, Govt. Pr, retrieved 7 October 2016
  44. Royal Commission on the Western Australian Government Railways; Smith, A. G (1959), Interim report no. 9 of the Royal Commission on the Western Australian Government Railways , retrieved 8 October 2016 - there were 10 separate reports over two years
  45. Gunzburg, Adrian (1989). The Midland Railway Company Locomotives of Western Australia. Surrey Hills: Light Railway Research Society of Australia. p. 7. ISBN   0-9093402-77.
  46. Don Finlayson (Ed.) (1986), "Steam Around Perth", Australian Railway Historical Society W.A. Division (Inc), Lamb Print, West Perth., ISBN   0-9599690-4-7 p14
  47. State Electricity Commission Electric Locomotive Rail Heritage WA
  48. Gray, Bill; May, Andrew (2006). A History of WAGR Passenger Carriages. Perth: Bill Gray. pp. 171–177. ISBN   0-646-45902-3.
  49. Royal Commission into the Management, Workings & Control of the Western Australian Government Railways Government of Western Australia December 1947 page 92
  50. WAGR buses shift 360,000 in a year The Sunday Times 28 August 1949 page 3
  51. Fleet Summary Perth Bus Info
  52. WAGR Timetable booklet 1969, p.81
  53. Rail and Road in Western Australia 1971–1972 p.27
  54. Rail and Road in Western Australia, edition 1971–1972, p.38 - timetable on p.39
  55. WAGR 1976 Rail Timetable booklet
  56. WAGR Timetable booklet 1969, p.59 - with at least 19 separate services at that date
  57. Media South Spur Rail Services
  58. "First of Westrail Locos Breaks Cover" Railway Digest August 1997 page 7
  59. Bertola, P.; Oliver, B. [Eds.] (2006). The Workshops: A History of the Midland Government Railway Workshops. Perth: University of Western Australia Press.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  60. Equipment / Trains Hotham Valley Railway
  61. Bassendean Museum Exhibits Rail Heritage WA
  62. Western Australian Government Railways W class locomotives Pichi Richi Railway
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  64. "Why Movement?". Movement: 1. February 1974.
  65. "Catalogue entry". WAGR News Letter via National Library of Australia.
  66. "Catalogue entry". Movement via National Library of Australia.
  67. Westrail News Letter National Library of Australia catalogue entry

Bibliography

  • WAGR Publicity Section, Perth. Pamphlets and information sheets produced in the early 1960s.