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Rail service reaches milestone
Laura Thorneloe on the Mandurah line. Picture: Ian Munro/The West Australian

This morning, someone will take the 20 millionth trip on the Mandurah rail line this financial year.

It will come just a few days after someone took the 60 millionth trip on a train somewhere on Perth's rail network. And two days before someone takes the 80 millionth trip on a Perth bus.

The public transport stars have aligned to allow these three mile- stones to be reached within a few days of each other - and all are an indicator of the incredible take-up of public transport in Perth over the past eight years.

"It brings a tear to my eye," said Curtin University's Professor of Sustainability Peter Newman, who has been a passionate advocate of public transport since he became a vocal opponent of the 1980 decision to close the Fremantle train line.

"I think we should be very proud of what the Public Transport Authority and Perth have achieved. It is seen as globally significant and I can present the story anywhere to gasps of amazement.

"People say, 'So the wild west can do more than mining'?"

The extraordinary growth - train boardings have doubled in eight years (from 30 million to 60 million) and bus boardings have increased 40 per cent in the same time (58 million to 80 million) - also reinforces the adage that "build it and they will come".

The Mandurah line opened in December 2007, the brainchild of then infrastructure minister Alannah MacTiernan.

Ms MacTiernan, now the mayor of Vincent, said few people would appreciate the grief she and the government went through during the early stages of the project. "Despite everything that was thrown at us, we kept going because we knew that we were right and that a rail line to Mandurah was a fundamental requirement for Perth," she said.

"I'm heartened by these figures."

Shadow transport minister Ken Travers said the passenger growth figures were a credit to the farsighted decisions made by Ms MacTiernan and the Gallop and Carpenter Labor governments.

"During this period, WA Labor built the Mandurah line, the Thornlie spur line, the extension to Clarkson and the Greenwood railway station," he said. "We also upgraded many stations on the Armadale, Fremantle and Midland lines."

Transport Minister Troy Buswell said the Liberal Government also recognised that an efficient public transport system was vital to Perth's sustainable future and was investing $1.5 billion to increase the capacity and efficiency of the network.

Waikiki mother-of-two Laura Thorneloe will be on the Mandurah train this morning and, theoretically at least, could complete the line's 20 millionth journey.

She catches the train about 7am from Rockingham and heads to the city, where she works as an office manager for a human resources consultancy. While she appreciates the convenience of a train, she said the peak-hour overcrowding in the carriages was getting worse.