Grand plans for top quality rail tourism

A NEW boutique rail tourism project has the potential to generate up to $6 million a year in business for WA’s southern regions.

Leisure Rail WA has put forward a $7.75 million proposal to link more than 2300 businesses and tourism operations in the Heartlands, South West and Great Southern regions via a new tourist rail service.

Under the plan, two rail-based operations will be created – a restaurant rail service called The Moondyner and a regional tourism service called The Discovery Rail.

The Moondyner will operate out of Fremantle and take passengers on an evening tour of the Avon Valley region while they dine.

The Discovery Rail proposal plans to run regular services through different regional areas, stopping at country town stations on the way to major regional centres such as Bunbury and Albany.

Twenty stations, linked by 1000km of track, are involved in the proposal which, according to Leisure Rail consulting project director Graeme Vellacott, would provide an incredible boost to regional tourism.

“The proposal will be heavily integrated with regional tourism operators. For example one of our Discovery Rail packages may be a day trip to York that includes lunch on the train plus touring options to some of the local attractions,” Mr Vellacott said.

“The Discovery Rail will also allow people to have extended short stay trips. They could catch one train up and another back a few days later, rather than facing two long car trips.”

He said other ideas involved the introduction of a Discovery Rail pass, similar to the Eurail pass popular

with tourists travelling around Europe.

Leisure Rail has already pumped more than $2 million into building its fleet, which now consists of three refitted locomotives and 13 passenger carriages.

One locomotive will be held in reserve at all times, leaving two trains to provide both the Moondyner and Discovery Rail services.

The company has secured about 70 per cent of the required funding and is now looking to raise the balance, $2.5 million, by way of a prospectus, which was lodged in May with the Australian Securities & Investments Commission.

p See property, page 25.

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