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Once the new Bellevue Railcar Manufacturing and Assembly Facility is complete, railcar manufacturing will be back in WA for the first time since the Midland Workshops closed in 1994 – an event that is still front of mind for former workshop employee (and now Midland Line passenger service manager) Michael Watts.
Mike, who started at the Workshops in 1965, said he still had fond memories of his two decades there, during which time he rose up the ranks from an apprentice to foreman.
“I started as a turner and iron machinist and I was the first to get a four-year apprenticeship,” he said.
“I stayed on after completing my apprenticeship as a tradesman and I spent time in the drafting office doing jig and tool design.
“I was made up to a toolmaker in 1973 and two years later I became assistant foreman in the machine shop before becoming a planner scheduler for the wheel shop and air brake section a year after that.”
Mike was promoted to foreman of the wheel shop mere months before the Workshops’ doors closed for the last time.
He said he had been “disappointed” with the closure but was happy to see that WA-based train manufacturing would soon be making its return at a place just 2km from the original site.
“My time in the Workshops was memorable as we were a big, family-orientated place,” he said. “Train manufacturing will not be on the scale we had in the Workshops days but it will be good to see it making a comeback.”
“Train manufacturing will not be on the scale we had in the Workshops days but it will be good to see it making a comeback.”