$400m for WA rail upgrade after record grain harvest

A complete of $400 million can be spent on upgrading rail infrastructure and loading amenities in Western Australia’s agricultural area over the subsequent three years in a bid to cut back delays transferring grain from storage websites to port. 

The state and federal governments will spend $200 million throughout numerous websites within the Wheatbelt, whereas grain handler CBH Group will spend one other $200 million on rapid-loading bins and elevators. 

CBH Group chief govt Ben Macnamara mentioned the joint spend was “unbelievable news” on the again of a record 24-million-tonne grain harvest final 12 months, which had created logistical complications getting grain to port. 

“What this current season has highlighted to us is the worth of getting grain to port, significantly within the entrance half,” Mr Macnamara mentioned. 

He mentioned 24-million-tonne crops would change into “the common as we transfer ahead” and vital funding into grain provide chain infrastructure was wanted throughout the network, from up-country websites to delivery. 

Wheat stands in the paddock ready for harvest, in the distance a harvester is ready to harvest the wheat.
Railway performs a key position in getting grain to port and on to international markets.(ABC Rural: Jo Prendergast)

More grain off street and onto rail

The $200m allocation of presidency funding was introduced in May final 12 months as spherical one of many Agricultural Supply Chain Improvements program.

It prompted calls from regional neighborhood teams for the money to be spent rebuilding decommissioned railway traces to cut back the quantity of grain being transported on street. 

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti mentioned she was assured bettering the effectivity of grain-to-port rail transport would take extra grain off the roads. 

She mentioned $68m can be spent extending or upgrading 11 grain rail sidings within the Wheatbelt to enable sooner loading onto trains, whereas the line between Carnamah and Mingenew can be upgraded from 16-tonne axle loading (TAL) to 19 TAL at a price of $60m.

“We’ll proceed to work to get additional phases [of the Agricultural Supply Chain Improvements program] funded.” 

CBH grain train WA
A big spend on railway infrastructure is hoped to get grain to port sooner. (ABC News)

Ms Saffioti mentioned $72m can be spent on recommissioning the Tier 3 Narrogin-to-Kulin line that closed in 2013. 

WA’s Tier 3 rail traces protecting 730 kilometres have been closed in 2014; a report in 2020 discovered it will price greater than $1 billion to reopen them. 

“We’ve performed a correct evaluation and in that space we have not only acquired grain freight, however we have additionally acquired the sources sector — there is a kaolin sources undertaking that has commenced — so we’re working with them about how they will ship their product to port,” Ms Saffioti mentioned. 

She didn’t rule out future spend on different Tier 3 traces. 

The Wheatbelt Railway Retention Alliance was shaped in 2010 to foyer for grain transport to stay on rail forward of the closure of a number of Tier 3 traces. 

Spokesperson Jane Fuchsbichler mentioned some spend on Tier 3 was a “tiny step in the fitting route”, however far more funding into restoring Tier 3 was wanted to cut back freight charges for farmers. 

“This isn’t a full line; it is only about 50 kilometres to Tincurrin as I can understand,” she mentioned. 

“CBH have mentioned to me Tier 3 isn’t a precedence; moderately than put the warmth on the federal government, I’m disenchanted on the lack of traction we have now been capable of get with CBH.”

Mr Macnamara mentioned CBH would prioritise tasks that enabled it to get extra grain to port extra effectively.

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