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East Perth Terminal station with the Indian Pacific preparing for departure, 11 October 2009.

Restored Western Australian Government Railways carriage No. AI258, East Perth Terminal, 11 October 2009.

East Perth Terminal Station

David Matheson

 5 September 2023

East Perth Terminal station is the city’s terminus for regional and interstate train services operating on standard gauge tracks. Administrative offices and a coach terminal can also be found at the site. A suburban station named East Perth is opposite East Perth Terminal station.


The location

East Perth Terminal station is located on the eastern edge of the Perth central business district and is close to the Swan River. The first railway in Perth opened between Fremantle and Guildford in 1881, passing through where the station is now located. A station was not built here until Perth Terminal opened in 1969.


East Perth Terminal is built on the site of the former East Perth Locomotive Depot. The locomotive depot was opened on 17 May 1919, replacing a depot at West Perth. It was the largest locomotive depot in Western Australia and featured a large brick shed with ten through roads, an 80-foot (24-metre) turntable, coal stage, ten water columns, washout plant, ash pits, and a yard consisting of over six miles (9.7 km) of sidings. The depot was able to cater for up to 50 steam engines at a time. Originally a steam locomotive depot, it began to cater for diesel locomotives when the first mainline diesels entered service in 1954. East Perth Locomotive Depot was closed in 1968 and then demolished the following year. A temporary depot was established in the southern part of the yard and was operational until the last steam locomotives were withdrawn from service in 1971. Diesel locomotive servicing moved to Forrestfield.



Following the demolition of East Perth locomotive depot, the new Perth Terminal station was built. The station was named ‘Perth Terminal’ from its opening in 1969, but was renamed ‘East Perth Terminal’ on 14 August 1989, probably to avoid confusion with Perth station in the central business district. It was to function as a terminus for standard gauge regional and interstate passenger trains. On 15 June 1969 the first standard gauge passenger express arrived at the new terminal after completing its 1515-mile (2438-km) trip from Port Pirie in South Australia. Although the standard gauge line from Perth to Kalgoorlie had been completed in November 1968, the line was only used by freight trains until the completion of the standard gauge line from Midland and the opening of the terminal at East Perth. The first standard gauge passenger train consisted of an L Class 2237 kW diesel-electric locomotive hauling 16 carriages.


The opening of the standard gauge railway between Perth and Kalgoorlie in 1968 was one part of the standardisation of the railway across Australia between Sydney and Perth. A ceremony to mark the completion of this project was held at Broken Hill in New South Wales on 29 November 1969 and the first standard gauge freight train ran from Sydney to Perth in January 1970.


The first run of The Indian-Pacific passenger train departed Sydney for Perth on 23 February 1970. It conveyed the Governor-General of Australia, Sir Paul Hasluck, Lady Hasluck, political leaders, senior railway officials and other dignitaries. After a journey of two and a half days it arrived at Perth Terminal on time at 11.20 am on 26 February. L Class locomotives L260 and L261 hauled the train, which consisted of 26 carriages and had a total length of over 2300 feet (701 metres), with a trailing load of 1290 tons (1311 tonnes). This made it the longest and heaviest passenger train to ever operate in Australia until that time. It was greeted by an estimated crowd of 12,000 people. A vintage train ran from Bunbury to Perth for the event. Following arrival in Perth, Sir Paul Hasluck unveiled a plaque to mark the beginning of standard gauge passenger train services across Australia. The first revenue services of The Indian-Pacific departed from Perth on 1 March and from Sydney on 2 March. Initially two services of The Indian-Pacific operated in each direction each week. On 21 July 1973 a third weekly service was introduced, and then on 23 July 1975 a fourth service was added. Services were later reduced and today one train runs in each direction weekly.


Later in 1970 Perth Terminal witnessed the first steam train to cross Australia from Sydney to Perth. A special train named the Western Endeavour arrived in Perth on 29 August behind New South Wales steam locomotive 3801. Thousands of people gathered at the terminus to see the train’s arrival, which was followed by speeches. Following some local excursions, the train departed Perth for the return journey to Sydney on 6 September.



When it opened in 1969, Perth Terminal platform had a length of 1250 feet (381 metres). It was later extended to 2500 feet (762 metres), which is the longest railway station platform in Australia. The station has one through standard gauge platform, and one terminal standard gauge platform at the northern end of the station. A parallel standard gauge track runs beside the through platform road. The platforms are covered for most of their length. A coach terminal is also located at East Perth Terminal.


East Perth has also been home to railway administrative staff since 1976. A five-storey building was constructed, which became the home for over 800 staff previously based at various offices in Perth. The building was named the ‘Westrail Centre’ and was officially opened by Sir Charles Court, Premier of Western Australia, on 12 November 1976. It was designed by architectural company Forbes & Fitzhardinge, who were given an award for the building’s interior architecture. The building is an example of late twentieth century Brutalist architectural style. It is constructed in dark brown brickwork, off form concrete and glass. The ground floor of the building features open space, is articulated by columns, and incorporates booking offices, waiting areas, retail outlets and historical displays. The building remains the railways administrative headquarters but is now known as the Public Transport Centre.


On display inside the East Perth Terminal station building is carriage AI258, a four-wheel composite carriage built for the Western Australian Government Railways in 1876. S Class 4-8-2 steam locomotive S542 Bakewell has been on display outside the building since 1976. It entered service on 26 June 1943 and was withdrawn on 17 June 1971. Ten members of the S Class were designed and built at Perth’s Midland Workshops, and they were used on both passenger and freight trains.


Train services

East Perth Terminal remains the western terminus of the Indian Pacific passenger train. The Indian Pacific runs on the east-west transcontinental route between Sydney, Adelaide and Perth once a week in each direction. It commenced operating in 1970 following the completion of the standard gauge line across Australia. Journey Beyond Rail are the current operators of the train. The number of carriages in the Indian Pacific’s consist varies, but typically averages 30 carriages, which includes passenger carriages, crew quarters, restaurant and lounge cars, and power vans. Its average length is 774 metres and the average weight is 1400 tonnes. The Indian Pacific is named after the Indian and Pacific oceans, which bound the west and east coastlines of Australia. Journey Beyond Rail Expeditions uses a wedge-tailed eagle as its symbol for the Indian Pacific, its large wingspan representing the journey across the continent. Journey Beyond Rail Expeditions’ train services cater for the rail tourism market, and advertising for the Indian Pacific promotes onboard facilities and off-train excursions as part of holiday experiences.


Transwa regional train services the Prospector and the MerredinLink commence their journeys from East Perth Terminal. Prospector runs between East Perth Terminal and Kalgoorlie and MerredinLink runs between East Perth Terminal and Merredin. Both of these trains are formed by Diesel Multiple Unit railcars. The narrow gauge Australind train runs between Perth station in the central business district and Bunbury.


East Perth suburban station

Opposite East Perth Terminal is the East Perth suburban station. It is located on Transperth’s Midland line and features an island platform. Services operate between Perth and Midland every 15 minutes for most of the day on weekdays and on weekends, with ten-minute frequencies during peak times. A footbridge links East Perth Terminal with East Perth station. At the northern (Midland) end of this platform is the 0 km point, from which railway distances in Western Australia are now measured. A different station named East Perth was opened in 1883 and was renamed Claisebrook in 1969 when the current East Perth station was opened. It is located to the south-west of the current East Perth station.



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S Class 4-8-2 steam locomotive S542 Bakewell on display outside Perth Terminal, 11 October 2009.


The Prospector, East Perth Terminal, Western Australia, 11 October 2009

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