Balingup Community Web

An initiative of the Balingup Progress Association

Tourist Rail

"Leschenault Lady" Vintage Train on Capel bridge (c. 1970) Photo: J Joyce; Rail Heritage,P 18216

Tourism is a vital element of the South West, State and Commonwealth economies and, as is already evident, domestic tourism has taken on enhanced importance to the State since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tourist rail excursions are in demand throughout the world, and commonly incorporated in tour packages offered to tourists by tourism operators.
Undoubtedly operation of a Bunbury-Bridgetown tourist rail service would be a very attractive addition to tourism options in the South West region stretching from Albany to Margaret River.

In determining that a feasibility study should be commenced in respect of this proposal BRG obtained the business case prepared for the Wheatbelt Heritage Rail proposal sponsored by the Shire of Dowerin with funds provided by Government. BRG also contacted and conferred with Linqage International, the company that produced the feasibility study for that project.

BRG has obtained detailed information on the operation of two tourist rail services that may be considered to be comparable in length and scenic value to the proposed Bunbury-Bridgetown rail service, namely, West Coast Wilderness Railway in north-west Tasmania ( Queenstown-Strahan), and Dunedin Railways at the southern end of New Zealand's South Island. [See: West Coast Wilderness Railway and Dunedin Railways]

Furthermore, BRG has conferred with an experienced rail consultant (former manager of Regional Passenger Rail Services for Westrail and recently Manager of the Toronto Metrolink passenger rail service reorganisation) who was part of a consortium that prepared a business case for a tourist rail service from Perth to Bridgetown, shortly before the line south of Bunbury was closed.
[See: Leisure Rail WA-Project Information Jan 2001]

1. 2.
1. 'Apple Festival' Tour Train at Donnybrook Station(c.1960-1970) (J.Joyce); Rail Heritage WA, T04507
2. Tourist Train in lower South West(c.1960-1970) (J.Joyce); Rail Heritage WA, T04499

3. 4.
3."Leschenault Lady" Vintage Train at Dardanup station (c.1970) Photo: J Joyce; Rail Heritage,T04513
4. Tourist Train Departing Perth en route to Bridgetown(c.1990-2000) (L.Purcell); Rail Heritage WA,P02616

It is to be noted that further weight has now been given to the Bunbury-Bridgetown tourist rail proposal by the Government announcement that a new train is under construction for the "Australind" service with the intention that it meet the requirements of tourism as well as providing a service for commuter passengers. Such a re-positioned "Australind" service will provide a natural connection for the Perth tourist market to a scenic South West rail experience between Bunbury and Bridgetown.

And, of course, the business case for such a service could be further assisted if the replaced "Australind" rolling stock remained serviceable and available.

Some examples of public discussion on Tourist Rail in the South West.