THE WEST Coast Wilderness Railway will be closed over winter to conduct $6 million in urgent repairs.
Infrastructure Minister David O'Byrne said stakeholders agreed a temporary suspension was necessary at a meeting yesterday.
``If an operator and sustainable business model can be found, the upgrades need to happen as quickly as possible, to minimise disruption for staff and local businesses,'' Mr O'Byrne.
The Federal Government agreed last month to fund the urgent capital repairs, if a new operator for the heritage railway could be found.
The State Government has pledged up to $1.5 million a year for four years for ongoing maintenance work.
Mr O'Byrne said he would seek expressions of interest for a new operator after Easter.
The future of the railway has been in doubt since operator Federal Group severed its 10-year operational lease last month.
It will stop operating the railway from April 30.
The government appointed a senior bureaucrat to oversee the transition of the railway to another operator, and Mr O'Byrne said some progress had been made.
``The State Government's good faith negotiations with the Federal Group are progressing well,'' he said.
``We're hopeful of finalising a sustainable business model as soon as possible.