WEST Coast Mayor Darryl Gerrity has accused the government of being "slack" in its search to find a new operator for the West Coast Wilderness Railway.
Infrastructure Minister David O'Byrne said the government would call for expressions of interest from operators willing to take on the heritage railway next month.
But Cr Gerrity said it should have been advertised as soon as Federal Group announced it was walking away from the rail six weeks ago.
Mr O'Byrne said the process had been delayed until a sustainable operational model could be worked out.
Pembroke Liberal MLC Vanessa Goodwin said the delay in calling for expressions of interest was unacceptable.
Mr O'Byrne said the railway would be closed for the winter to conduct urgent track repairs, and that the $6million in promised Federal Government funding would flow even if a new operator had not been secured by the time the contract ends on April 30.
He said it was possible the government and local government would band together to operate the railway in the short term until a private-sector operator could be found.
Mr O'Byrne said the government was negotiating with Federal Group to transfer staff and some assets over to either a new operator or the interim operational model, and was working to secure staff during the proposed winter shutdown.