FREMANTLE has been overlooked again with the popular tourist hub not even on the new Perth Airport train line, says the local Chamber of Commerce.
Due to start on October 9 the airport train service will terminate at Claremont, seven stops before Fremantle, despite the port city being in TIME magazine’s Top 50 Travel Destinations for 2022 and its reputation as one of the most popular tourist spots in WA.
Fremantle Markets alone is visited by more than 2.6 million people a year, with about 50 per cent of those from outside WA, making it the most popular attraction in Greater Perth.
But tourists and cruise-ship goers on the Perth Airport train will have to change at Claremont Station or get a bus transfer to reach Freo.
Fremantle Chamber of Commerce CEO Danicia Quinlan says it’s the latest in a long line of “near sighted” decisions that have damaged the city’s economy.
“Fremantle has now missed out on the original planned southern loop of metro net, the planned idea to end the Indian-Pacific at the closest centre to the Indian Ocean, and now the Airport to Fremantle extension,” Ms Quinlan says.
“We were named one of the Top 50 named Travel Destinations for visitors in the world this year, we are a major service hub for our marine industries up and down the coast, and we are the traditional urban centre for many of the suburbs down the southern corridor.
“Ignoring that visitors arriving from the airport are not planning to end up or stay in Fremantle never made logical sense but when you look at our current growth projections both in terms of visitation, employment and urban expansion in the region, the decision seems very near sighted”.
The airport line opens the same month large cruise ships return to Freo, with up to 2900 passengers arriving on the Coral Princess in October. At least 10,000 passengers are expected to arrive on cruise ships in WA before Christmas.
Property is also booming in Fremantle – this month figures from REIWA revealed the port city yearly growth was over 25 per cent, while the Perth average was just 2.7 per cent.
In the wake of the redeveloped Walyalup Koort, several large tourist infrastructure projects are underway including a new six-storey boutique hotel at the old Spicer site on the corner of William and Henderson Street.
The Chook asked transport minister Rita Saffioti why Fremantle wasn’t on the airport line, but her department passed us to the Public Transport Authority.
“Claremont Station was chosen for the new turnback facility, needed to enable us to turn Airport Line trains around, for operational and strategic reasons,” PTA spokesman David Hynes says.
“…Claremont allows us to de-conflict Airport and ordinary Fremantle trains; offers physical space in the rail corridor; and provides a solution that will optimise future train operations.
“The Airport to Claremont solution balances the need for a quick train turnaround with the opportunity to significantly improve the level of service to and from the more highly patronised inner-Fremantle Line stations.”
The 25.4km Airport Line goes between High Wycombe and Claremont, via Perth Airport and Bayswater.
It’s all new infrastructure between High Wycombe and Bayswater with three stations built – Redcliffe, Airport Central and High Wycombe – and 8km of twin-bored tunnel; the longest of its kind in Perth.
The rest of the service shares the existing Midland, Morley–Ellenbrook and Fremantle lines.
Fremantle mayor Hannah Fitzhardinge says changing trains won’t deter visitors.
“Fremantle will still be well served as it will be an easy transfer at Claremont to get on an airport train,” she says.
“We’ll be working with the state government to ensure that timetabling and marketing includes the option to change trains for Freo. As Freo is such a walkable city we’re excited that people will be able to get to us by train and not feel the need to hire a car.”
by STEPHEN POLLOCK