WA grain growers to support rail freight

Grain growers cooperative CBH Group has welcomed the Western Australian government’s Revitalising Agricultural Region Freight (RARF) Strategy and committed to work on business cases to fund improvements to rail lines.

The RARF was released on June 29 and outlines a targeted program of upgrades and improvements to WA’s regional freight lines, particularly those that enable grain to be transported from growers to ports.

CBH Group, which provides grain haulage services to its member growers, has been working with the state government and infrastructure manager Arc Infrastructure on the project, said CEO Jimmy Wilson.

“CBH has had the opportunity to give practical and pragmatic input to the development of the strategy, including data on forecast grain production growth and a focus on what will deliver the greatest transfer of grain tonnes from road to rail,” said Wilson.

Wilson said the RARF is “an important and essential step in improving the efficiency of the Western Australian grain supply chain through strategic rail and road investment”.

The RARF named upgrades to rail lines from Perth to Geraldton, Mullewa to Perenjori, Albany to Hyden/Newdegate, and Esperance to Salmon Gums, as priority project packages. CBH is already working on business cases for a new passing loop at Broomehill and rail siding extensions at Brookton, Cranbrook and Moora, which will allow for longer trains to be loaded at those sites.

It is expected that CBH and Arc Infrastructure will lead the improvements, with support from the WA government.

“The low-cost, high benefit projects outlined in the strategy would facilitate the transfer of more grain tonnes off road onto rail, deliver more rapid rail movement from site to port to capture the market window when the Black Sea is least active, as well as improve efficiencies in the road network where rail is not an option,” said Wilson.

In her foreword to the strategy, WA Minister for Transport Rita Saffioti said that she hoped the works would improve efficiency, safety, and productivity in WA’s supply chain, and enable Australian growers to compete in international markets.

The strategy sets the foundation for improvements to WA’s network over the next 10-15 years.

“We look forward to working with the state government on progressing business cases for funding the priority projects identified in the strategy that will support the ongoing international competitiveness of Western Australian grain growers,” said Wilson.