Coal keeps light rail rolling

South Western Times
Ken Watson checks out Bennett Brook Railway’s steam engine that is powered by coal from Premier Coal.
Camera IconKen Watson checks out Bennett Brook Railway’s steam engine that is powered by coal from Premier Coal.

Collie coal is being used to preserve light rail transport, with mining company Premier Coal donating the fuel source to help run the steam engines at Bennett Brook Railway in Perth’s Whiteman Park.

The railway runs steam and diesel engine passenger train services around the park, with the money raised used for the preservation of light rail locomotives and rolling stock.

More than 25,000 passengers ride the trains at Whiteman Park each year and those who enjoy the 6.5km journey between May and September are likely to be behind a steam engine powered by Collie coal.

The railway’s sheds and yards have been a labour of love for WA Light Railway Preservation Association Incorporated vice-chairman and foreman Ken Watson, who created the association with the assistance of his father and two brothers in 1976.

The association formed Bennett Brook Railway in 1984, becoming one of the first tenants of Whiteman Park.

The park offers a unique insight into transport heritage housing the collections of five groups ranging from motorcars and tractors to buses, trams and trains.

Mr Watson said more than 140 volunteers along with Work for the Dole teams kept the train service operating and performed vital preservation work.

“Our main purpose is to preserve light railway – our train services are a vital part of that as they not only raise funds but allow us to connect with the public,” he said.

“Our broader activities allow our volunteers and Work for the Dole teams to use and develop their skills in a friendly environment – we’re a family.”

Premier Coal general manager Glenn Burlinson said the company was proud to help Bennett Brook Railway and its outstanding work.

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