MIDLAND’S past became its present on Tuesday with a history-making move to bring back rail manufacturing to WA.
Just 1km from the old Midland Railway Workshops, a site in Bellevue will become home to a new railcar manufacturing facility after a State Government announcement this week.
From 1901 until they closed in 1994, the workshops remained at Midland’s heart, essential not only for WA’s railway system development and the State’s economy but for local employment and training opportunities.
Premier Mark McGowan, Transport Minister Rita Saffioti and Midland MLA Michelle Roberts visited the heritage site on Tuesday.
“It’s fantastic to be back here at the old Midland Workshops,” Mr McGowan said.
“For about 100 years this was the place rail manufacturing took place in WA and it has a marvellous history of working people, making a living and manufacturing infrastructure and rolling stock for the WA agriculture, passenger and mining industries.”
Three companies will submit a tender for the supply of 246 new trains, with the winning applicant’s success weighing heavy on their commitment to manufacture or assemble 50 per cent of the rail cars from WA sources.
“This is a $1.6 billion arrangement to build these railcars over ten years and ongoing maintenance for many years to come,” Mr McGowan said.
“This is a huge job creator for the eastern suburbs of Perth, for Midland and surrounds and it means rail manufacturing is coming back to our state.”
The development has the potential to create hundreds of jobs but specific figures will not be available until the tender applicants submit their final proposals.
It is expected 102 new railcars (17 six-car sets) will service Metronet projects and 144 railcars (24 six-car sets) will replace 30-year-old A-series railcars.
All to be delivered between 2023 and 2028.
The Metronet project is expected to deliver a new Morley-Ellenbrook line, extension of the Midland line to Bellevue and relocation of Midland station to Cale Street as well as the Forrestfield-Airport link.
Ms Saffioti said the State Government offered companies long-term guaranteed work to set up shop in WA.
“The only way you can get industry to want to participate in local manufacturing is if you can give them some certainty over a long term period of time,” she said.
“Not only did we look at the Metronet expansion but the A-series replacement, we felt by having a larger contract we could get them to participate in WA.”
She said she did not expect any objection from residents to the Bellevue site, on the corner of Elgee and Robinson roads, as it had a previous industrial use.
The proposed manufacturing facility will share the site with a new Public Transport Authority railcar maintenance depot, both currently with the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority for approval.
The City of Swan welcomed the announcement.
“It is exciting to see such a significant investment in our local community and a new connection to one of the biggest infrastructure projects in WA history,” Mayor David Lucas said.
“This facility will bring jobs and opportunities for our local community, and help enhance Midland as a key strategic metropolitan centre for WA.”