WA pumps $178m into grain freight network

WA pledges $178.8 million to bolster its grain freight network, including assistance package to improve rail's competitiveness

November 16, 2010

The West Australian Government will pour another $178.8 million into bolstering its grain network, including road upgrades and funding to improve rail’s competitiveness.

Premier Colin Barnett says the funding adds to the $135 million already committed by the Federal Government. The investment brings total expenditure to $352 million over four years.

Transport Minister Simon O’Brien says money will be spent on re-sleepering works to upgrade vital grain freight lines, maintenance works to Wheatbelt roads and a rail assistance package to reduce the need for trucks.

While saying no rail lines will close, O’Brien adds that some non-economic lines will need to put into care and maintenance.

Barnett says farmers road users will benefit from the multi-million dollar investment.

"This massive upgrade to the grain freight network will improve the efficiency of grain transport, which will mean lower costs for farmers," he says.

"From a community safety perspective, a robust rail freight network means fewer heavy vehicles on the predominately narrow country roads, making it safer for other vehicles, including caravans and school buses."

Agriculture and Food Minister Terry Redman says a more efficient grain network will improve the competitiveness of products on the international market and satisfy overseas demand.

"From a community safety point of view, it’s much better for grain to be on rail so we don’t have grain trucks competing with school buses and caravans on country roads," he says.

Grain transported on the network includes wheat, barley, canola, oats and lupins destined for ports in Geraldton, Kwinana, Albany or Esperance. Grain is then exported to countries including Indonesia, Japan, China, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

WA produces an average of more than 11 million tonnes of grain annually worth more than $4.5 billion a year. About eight million tonnes is exported, but this year’s harvest is expected to be halved due to ongoing dry conditions.

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