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O’Brien takes freight review to the people

Proposed shake-up to WA's struggling grain freight network goes to the people for feedback

February 15, 2010

A proposed shake-up to Western Australia’s struggling grain freight network will go before communities concerned about the effect the changes will have.

Western Australia Transport Minister Simon O’Brien says meetings will be held with local governments and the public to discuss the findings of the Strategic Grain Network Committee’s report.

The report called for the heavy vehicle permit system to be reassessed so trucks hauling grain will be limited on a certain number of routes concentrated in areas not served by rail.

“This will have an immediate effect in reducing road maintenance costs,” the report says.

The report also recommended laying new sleepers every 10 to 15 years on all lines.

Following the release of the review, the Government announced $30 million to make rail more competitive with road freight.

O’Brien says the report raised a lot of complex issues so it is important those directly affected are given an opportunity to hear from the authors what the implications are.

“Department of Transport officers and the chairman of the SGNC will be available to explain the content and detail of the report and also to answer questions,” O’Brien says.

He has written to the local governments affected and says action is being taken to ensure the immediate future of Western Australia’s grain rail network.

The funds will be spent on maintenance on the Avon to Albury line, while a new cost access scheme affecting heavy vehicles will be introduced in the Kwinana South zone.

O’Brien says the investment is short-term and more analysis into the rail network needs to be done to identify long-term issues.

“The State Government is working with the Federal Government to develop a plan for long-term strategic investment in the grain logistics network,” he says.

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