“Take a break” and “work from home” are among the WA public transport authority’s helpful suggestions for commuters as it temporarily shuts down train lines so it can sink them below ground.
The entire Fremantle line will shut from July 12–17 and again July 31 to August 4. Bits of Midland, Joondalup, Armadale and Thornlie will also be down for days.
The shutdown includes the July 14 derby weekend where 43,500 people will pack Subi Oval for the Eagles v Dockers game.
The PTA’s shutdown FAQ says “the scheduling is very tight” and it was “the only time the work could be completed”. Punters will be shuttled around on replacement buses.
Dockers fan and Keep Freo in Freo convenor Chris Lewis says shutting down train lines during big events is bad practice.
“In London last week we had Wimbledon tennis and Glastonbury Rock Festival on, and without suburban trains those events just couldn’t happen,” he texted from Amsterdam.
“While the rest of the world makes user-convenience the top priority, Transperth continues its long-standing approach of doing what it wants when it wants.
“It comes across as not giving a damn about what its customers want and treating local councils where their train and bus lines run with absolute disdain.”
He warns that more than 30 years ago transport professor Peter Newman organised a 120,000 signature petition from the Friends of the Railways when the Sir Charles Court-led government closed the Fremantle rail line in 1979. He says it “brought down the government” and “it can happen again”.
The line was re-opened by Brian Burke in 1983.
This year, annual patronage on Perth’s trains is set to reach 150 million—a record that far surpasses anything envisaged by anti-rail “transport experts” who’d cautioned the Burke and Gallop governments against extending rail to the northern suburbs and to Mandurah.
Fremantle deputy mayor and Dockers fan Josh Wilson says, “too often we see the train service to Fremantle interrupted without much warning or thought given to the social and economic impact.
“Surely it’s not that hard to consult better on the timing of these interruptions. Or is it a cunning Eagles conspiracy?”
Along with holidays and working from home the PTA suggests workers try to stagger starting times, cycle, walk or car-pool.
Replacement buses will run alongside the railway lines, but commuters are warned to add 45 minutes to planned journey times.
by DAVID BELL and BRENDAN FOSTER