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Historic Golden Mile Loopline Railway from Kalgoorlie to Boulder in WA Goldfields set to live again
The conductor's whistle blows, steam fills the air, and hundreds of gold workers scramble to board the locomotive waiting to whisk them off from Kalgoorlie-Boulder for a hard day's work on the mines.
The late 1800s gold rush saw the Golden Mile Loopline Railway in Western Australia become one of the busiest stretches of track in the southern hemisphere.
Now, the historic steam train is set to be brought back to life, with fresh State Government funding.
The Government has allocated $3.7 million to lay a 16 kilometre tourist railway line linking Boulder, the Super Pit and Hannan Street in Kalgoorlie.
Railway general manager Mike Lucas said the project would reinvigorate tourism in Kalgoorlie-Boulder.
Mr Lucas said consultants estimated the locomotive would bring in more than 75,000 people to the region and employ many locals.
"It's a great boon for extra employment in the region, and I think the actual concept of having something so historic back operational again is so important," Mr Lucas said.
"We will start off initially with one locomotive and a passenger car which will seat about 45 people.
"It'll be a bonus for employment with staff obviously for train driving, conducting, front of house, maintenance staff ... it goes on and on."
Glory days, town rivalryIn 1895, two years after Paddy Hannan discovered gold, the rail was laid from Perth to Kalgoorlie, and in 1897 it was extended to Boulder.
During its peak in the gold rush, more than 100 steam trains moved through the station each day, equal to a train leaving the station every three minutes.
The steam train flourished during the late 1800s and early 1900s before trams were introduced.
Kalgoorlie historian and archive officer Tim Moore said it was not an easy accomplishment getting the railway completed, as the rivalry between Boulder and Kalgoorlie was very tense.
He said Boulder's main shopping strip had not even been gazetted yet, but the local progress committee decided it wanted to be completely separate from Kalgoorlie.
"In March 1897 the Kalgoorlie council decided without consulting anybody that they were going to build a light rail that went from Kalgoorlie down Boulder Road and into Boulder," Mr Moore said.
"When the people of Boulder heard about it they were absolutely furious, and were concerned the railway line would take business to Kalgoorlie.
"The Boulder people realised it was going to happen anyway, with mining companies on the Golden Mile anxious for a railway line, so they decided to put the railway station where Loopline Park is now."
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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