The one you didn’t read about

IT is not widely known, but three years ago a passenger train came dangerously close to toppling into Fremantle Harbour after a pilot boat crashed into the rail bridge.

At 6.15am on May 3, 2011 the Parmelia was towing a barge when it hit the bridge, at the same time a train was traversing it. The boat—which is taller than you might think—and the train only narrowly missed each other.

The incident is little known because the public transport authority made no mention of it afterwards, only telling media outlets the line had been damaged and services would be disrupted.

The Herald, the Subiaco Post, the West Australian, Perth Now and WA Today all covered the damaged line story, but despite questions about the incident none was informed about the train.

PTA spokesperson David Hynes denied this week there’d been a cover-up, saying it had been raised with him by talkback host Paul Murray who’d been tipped off by a passenger.

But he acknowledges not one PTA media releases after the crash mentions a train on the bridge. That’s a mere “coincidence”, he says.

The incident came to light again this week in a Fremantle council report on a briefing by the PTA. The report says: “This could have resulted in a major incident involving injuries and possible deaths.”

It notes the bridge is used for public transport and freight to the port.

“As such, if the rail bridge is damaged and cannot be used, there will be significant repercussion for the whole of Western Australia.”

The PTA is now constructing buffers around pylons of both the rail and the old traffic bridges to prevent similar incidents. An early warning system will also be installed that will automatically halt train services on the line if the bridges are damaged.


Leave a Reply