Australian agriculture network Viterra and rail freight operator Aurizon are pushing to reinstate rail freight on the Eyre Peninsula to benefit local growers, communities and exporters.
Both companies have submitted a formal application for Federal Government funding for the upgrade and reopening of the rail network between Port Lincoln and Cummins, and Cummins to Wudinna and Kimba.
The proposal includes upgrading the currently closed narrow gauge line in those regions to a level where rail can operate at increased axle weights, improved travel speeds and more reliably into warmer summer period.
Viterra Australia chief operations officer James Murray said partnering with Aurizon and the state and federal governments to fund an upgraded rail system would create significant long term economic, social and environmental benefits for local growers and communities export customers, government and flow-on effects for the state.
“It means they will have more opportunities to achieve higher prices for their grain with increased supply chain capacity and shipments in the first half of the year when global demand for Australian grain is higher and pricing is at a premium,” he said.
“The project will also provide reductions in freight costs, which Viterra passes back to grower customers.
“There are many positive opportunities for the Eyre Peninsula community from this project, including the reduction of about 25,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent a year, the removal of about 42,000 truck movements between upcountry sites and Port Lincoln each , and the creation of local jobs throughout the construction process once rail is operational.”
If the project receives government funding, significant infrastructure upgrades will take place at Viterra’s sites to support the introduction of rail in the region.
This includes fast rail outloading infrastructure and Viterra’s Lock, Wudinna, Cummins, Kimba and Ruddal sites to maximise the efficiency of using rail and unloading infrastructure at its port Lincoln terminal to reduce turnaround times for rail, while increasing volume capabilities.
Aurizon Adelaide-based bulk central general manager Matt Jones said the company was keen to invest in and grow its rail business following on from its acquisition of One Rail in 2022.
“Not only is rail the most efficient mode of bulk for bulk freight grain, but it also delivers major benefits for the community by reducing the need for thousands of truck journeys on regional roads and achieving a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.