A story on Page 13 of this month’s Toodyay Herald reported Toodyay Shire Councillor Paula Greenway as saying at last month’s shire Annual Electors’ Meeting that the weekday AvonLink commuter rail service could be replaced by a coach service through Morangup.
The Herald accepts that Cr Greenway was not talking about the existing weekday service but was in fact referring to a coach service that could replace a former expanded AvonLink service, which was scrapped in June last year due to a lack of sufficient passenger numbers after an unsuccessful three-year trial.Read more
The trial was implemented after former Liberal Government State Treasurer Troy Buswell announced in 2013 that the under-used AvonLink passenger rail service through Toodyay was costing WA taxpayers too much money and would be replaced by buses, causing a public outcry and political backlash by local WA National Party members in government.
Labor State Government funding for the current weekday AvonLink service – which generally operates at no more than half capacity – is currently budgeted to end on June 30.
Cr Di Granger, who was not present at last month’s annual electors’ meeting and chairs Toodyay’s AvonLink Supporters’ Group, said there were no indications from the group’s regular discussions with rail service operator Transwa that the AvonLink would not continue to be funded in the next State Budget, which is due to be announced later this year.
Below is a full shire transcript of Cr Greenway’s remarks in response to a ratepayers’ questions at last month’s annual electors meeting:
Summary of Question Three: “Has any thought been given to making use of the Avon Link line using the Merredin link? Does anyone have figures on how well the Merredin link is used, in terms that if it is not being used, whether or not we can “grab the train” on one of those days and have it come to Toodyay and then go back to Northam again?”
“We cannot really do anything further in respect to the Avon Link line. We are all on hold at present. Nothing more can be said other than that.
“Since the Avon Link service stopped its extra services/trips, the Merredin Link numbers have increased quite a lot. Are you asking whether we can increase the Avon Link services? If so, we’ve gone down this road before. We cannot get the numbers.
“We had a trial but could not get the patronage. I can find out what is happening in respect to future planning.”
Summary of Question Four: “So if we don’t use it we lose it?”
Cr Greenway: “We are waiting on the results of a TRANSWA survey. The results could mean a reallocation of their coach services. TRANSWA are doing the survey themselves.
“Other transport alternatives may be provided, depending on the results of this survey. The results that come in from the survey will provide other options. Not enough people used the Avon Link train service but if a coach service is put in place as an alternative, Morangup could benefit from a coach service, should they it be put into place by TRANSWA.”
Shire President Brian Rayner asked Cr Greenway to ensure the information was available prior to the February 2018 Council Meeting.
This advice is as follows: “The Draft Transwa Route Rationalisation Report prioritised possible service improvements which are targeted to assist as many people as possible at little expense considering a constrained operational budget. “Unfortunately, the suggested service of a road coach servicing Morangup and Gidgegannup did not make the priority list.
“The Transwa network is continuously reviewed to maximise the benefit that can be derived from the finite resources available to provide these services. Transwa have committed to monitor the growth of this area and will reconsider this option in future service reviews.”