Spirit of the West” halts

Spirit of the West

I learnt some sad news yesterday — the “Spirit of the West” restaurant train has ceased running. I was told that yesterday was the final day, although their web site says the final run is next Saturday 31st May. This is disappointing news as it was a great experience. I have been on the train twice myself (once for lunch, and once for dinner) and thoroughly enjoyed it both times.

Speaking to Ian Studham at the Rail Museum, I got a little more information about what has happened. Last year South Spur Rail (the originators of the “Spirit of the West”), was sold to Coote Industrial Group, a publicly listed company. Coote announced at the time they would continue to run the restaurant train for a year to see how well it fitted in to their business profile. Now a year later it appears it doesn’t fit well enough for them to continue with it.

I understand the train did make a small profit, but speculation is that it wasn’t enough of a profit to make it worthwhile the hassle of having to maintain the extra rail safety case for carriage of passengers, and all the associated extra public liability insurance it entails. Not to mention all the extra staff and services that need to be maintained that are not used anywhere else in their business.

At this stage the carriages and infrastructure are being held on to by Coote. I suppose there is a possibility they could sell it as a self contained business, but if that doesn’t eventuate then RHWA is going to have to find some more space at the rail museum to store the Federation coaches that belong to them. The tentative plan at this stage is that the two sidings immediately to the north of the Goninans access line will be converted to dual gauge and made part of the museum by creating a gated pedestrian level crossing over the Goninans access line. Obviously a lot of work, and it will entail a fair amount of knock on effects — for example dual gauge points are bigger so the access road will need to be relocated as it is already nearly too narrow where it passes near the narrow gauge point leading to the back sidings.

So all in all, the end of an era, but then again the only thing that is constant is change itself. Especially in the rail industry in Perth!

Image: The interior of the Spirit of the West restaurant train

8 thoughts on “Spirit of the West” halts

  1. I was so looking forward to taking the Spirit of West — I picked up a brochure a few years ago and kept it in my diary for my next trip. I made it back to the West a few times since but never had the time to make a booking (seem to remember it only ran on certain days/nights).
    Finally I have time and inclination — only to find the adventure had suffered from a corporate buy-out and mothballing.
    Has the Spirit been revived? Yours, Saddened TRaveller

  2. Sadly, no revival. The Spirit of The West restaurant train is still no more some 17 months later. There may have been some chance of resurrecting it within a few months of it closing down, but it is now approaching a year and half. There would have to be very little chance now…

  3. as an ex emploee working on the spirit of the west was one of the best jobs ive ever done! it was sad to c it shut down!

  4. I was the former train manager of Spirit of the West it was a very sad day when the closure was announced. For people that never got to experience this five star tourist attraction you will never know just how truly magical it was. There will never be anything like it in Western Australia again.

  5. Having once worked on the spirit of the west i’am now writing a report on the changes implemented to maintain its 5 star service and food (managing organisational change subject). It is a shame that such exceptional quality was lost especially with all the time and effort Paul went through to maintain its quality. This business worked so hard to train its staff to an exceptional quality and maintained a working culture so vibrant and exciting.…I’m always grateful for the opportunity and knowledge this unique job gave me.…it will be missed by many.

  6. Hi all, i use to alsowork on the train. with the people above. Very sad that it no longer operates as it was a place of amazing atmosphere. Not to menton a good previous company that looked after its staff. Not once working on board the train, did i see unhappy customer. Thanks to the team i worked with for making it fun. I would still had worked with them had i not left to move home to adelaide

  7. About 3 years ago, as a birthday treat, my wife took me on the Spirit of the West for an evening meal. I had no idea where we were going until we actually got to the terminal. What a fantasic evening. The meal was great as was the restored carriages and the ambience was magical. I have always wanted to experience having a meal on a train and afterwards wanted to take others as well to experiece this excellent journey. I was very disappointed when it was announced that the service would cease. Surely some enterprising entrepreneur, who has a passion and fascination with trains, could re-ignite the interest in this project.

  8. My first experience on the ‘Spirit of the West’ — a delayed Valentine’s dinner — remains the most romantic date I have ever been on. The fact it was organised by my exwife (my girlfriend at the time) astounds me even more — she wasn’t that romantic — but she hit a home run with this one!
    We repeated the experience a year later, and also treated both sets of parents at another time. A truly magical experience — staff, location, food… All brilliant. Bring it back — charge a little more to make it financially worthwhile — Perth needs something like this!

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