War of words, AvonLink future | UPDATE

A photo from the AvonLink trial opening in 2014.
A photo from the AvonLink trial opening in 2014.

A war of words has broken out between local State MPs on the future of the Avonlink train services that runs daily between Northam and Perth.

This week the Advocate published a story about the uncertain future of the service and since then it has been revealed there is no money allocated to the service for the 2017-18 financial year.

With funding ending on June 30, Labor MP for the Agricultural Region Darren West said he would be meeting with Treasurer Ben Wyatt, Transport Minister Rita Saffioti and Regional Development Minister next week to discuss the train’s future.

The newly-elected MP, who is also a local farmer, declared he used the service and had an interest in seeing it continue.

“I want to know why they aren’t catching it and what can we do instead?

Darren West

“I wish people would get on the train,” he said.

“The majority of the public do not seem to be in favour of keeping the service, because they are not using it.

“I want to know why they aren’t catching it and what can we do instead?

“I am looking forward to working with the community to find a solution.

Mr West also wants to meet with Central Wheatbelt MP and leader of The Nationals WA, Mia Davies.

“I am going to ask her what she would do if she was me right now,” he said. 

“The Liberal government had eight years to address the issue but the funding for the AvonLink ends on June 30."

“A personal attack on me isn't going to help the situation.

“Mr West is now in government, he’s a parliamentary secretary, and it is his responsibility to deliver for his constituents.

Mia Davies

“I would rather she thought of a solution to the issue – how we are going to offer sustainable public transport services to the Wheatbelt?”

Ms Davies responded by saying the Nationals in government did the heavy lifting to secure funds to trial changes to the AvonLink service.

“If we were now in government I’d have sat down with the PTA (Public Transport Authority) straight after the election and talked about options for continuing the service using the data from the trial,” Ms Davies said.

“Public transport is heavily subsidised in the metropolitan area and we know that it’s expensive in regional areas, but that doesn’t mean the people of the Avon Valley don’t deserve a service.

“The Labor Party made $5 billion worth of election commitments prior to the election, $2.6b of those were to fund new Perth rail projects.

“Mr West is now in government, he’s a parliamentary secretary, and it is his responsibility to deliver for his constituents.

“The Minister for Transport refused to answer questions in Parliament this week on the AvonLink and seemed unaware that Mr West had made comments that the AvonLink was not economically sustainable and that the three year trial was a failure.”