AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Fight to save Tier 3 rail lines continues

<span class="" id="parent-fieldname-description"> The Western Australian Farmers Federation (WAFarmers), as part of its 2013 State Election Key Issues, is calling for the extension of the operation of Tier 3 rail lines beyond the State Government’s current commitment of October 31 2013. </span> <p>WAFarmers and affiliated organisation, the Wheatbelt Railway Retention Alliance (WRRA), have taken up the fight to save the Tier 3 rail lines in Western Australia, which are threatened with closure at the end of the current season.</p><p>Tier 3 refers to the group of grain carrying rail lines serving the WA Wheatbelt that missed out on the package of State and Federal funding in 2011 to upgrade the remainder of the WA grain network. Previously it has been estimated that an additional $90m would be required for upgrading the Tier 3 lines.</p><p>WAFarmers President, Dale Park said WAFarmers and the people of the Wheatbelt would be seeking a commitment from the State Government to find a long term solution for Tier 3 rail and the broader grain rail network.</p><p>“WA Labor came out last week and committed $30m over three years to Tier 3 rail lines and now it is up to the Liberals and Nationals to match or improve that offer to the farmers and eastern Wheatbelt residents,” Mr Park said.</p><p>“One of our major concerns is that closing the Tier 3 rail lines will result in increased truck movements on rural roads therefore decreasing the safety of all Western Australian road users.</p><p>“Our consistent position has been that closing the Tier 3 network would result in an additional minimum of 57,000 truck movements in Western Australia each year, including throughout the Perth metropolitan area.</p><p>“We believe that investment in the Tier 3 lines is the only sensible course of action when both economic and environmental factors are taken into account,” Park said.</p><p>In 2012, a State Parliamentary Committee’s recommendation was to keep Tier 3 rail lines open until at least the end of 2014.</p><p>The Standing Committee on Environment and Public Affairs tabled a report in the Legislative Council with two recommendations:</p><ul><li>The Committee recommends that the government keep the central Wheatbelt Tier 3 rail lines open until the end of 2014 to enable CBH Group to demonstrate the business case for the retention of these lines and</li><li>The Committee recommends that in conjunction with the Recommendation 1 demonstration period, the government commission the Wheatbelt Development Commission to undertake an economic review of the appropriate grain transport infrastructure for the areas serviced by the central Wheatbelt Tier 3 lines.</li></ul><p>However, WA Transport Minister Troy Buswell rejected these recommendations and said the Barnett Government would instead spend $118m upgrading roads, before closing the lines in 2013.</p><p>Mr Park said it was disappointing the Government had gone against the recommendations of the report and completely disregarded the collective voice of the people in the Wheatbelt.</p><p>Following the introduction of its new locomotive and wagon fleet last year, Mr Park said CBH had recently released rate estimates which show a seven per cent decrease in rail rates and a five to eight per cent increase in road rates.</p><p>“We believe this will only improve with more investment in grain rail infrastructure,” he said.</p><p>“The new locomotives and the commitment from these companies (CBH and rail operator Watco) to save grain on rail have seen extremely positive results throughout 2012 as the new equipment was implemented.”</p><p>CBH has identified that if Tier 3 lines were upgraded, they could cart grain on rail cheaper than road from all Tier 3 sites in operation.</p><p>“This is not purely an issue for agriculture and farmers this is an issue for road users across the state. Transporting grain via trucks increases traffic on our roads and we have seen over the past few months a number of traffic incidents between passenger vehicles and grain trucks.</p><p>“There is a State Election in March and my message for the Liberal-National Government is that this rail debate will not go away,” he concluded.</p>