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A Main Roads employee spotted the 23-year-old man on the back of the Transperth train about 4:30pm on Saturday between Leederville and Glendalough stations while monitoring traffic, and immediately notified the PTA.
PTA spokesman David Hynes told the ABC the authority knew which train the man was on, but allowed it to continue for several minutes to the next station.
"He was clinging on to a windscreen wiper — were he to fall it's a very unfriendly and unreceptive surface with ballast and rail and concrete sleeper," Mr Hynes said.
"He would have almost certainly been killed, if not badly injured."
He said trains typically travelled along the line at up to 110 kilometres per hour.
The man got off the back of the train at Glendalough and boarded the interior of the train before it continued to Stirling station, where he was detained by PTA staff.
He was later taken to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital for a mental health assessment.
Dozens of people driving along the Mitchell Freeway witnessed the event.
The man could face charges for trespassing on Public Transport Authority property.
"Safety is an absolute priority for the PTA and that’s for our own people and passengers, whether they're inside or outside of the train," Mr Hynes said.
"This is incredibly stupid and very dangerous."
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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