AusRAIL, Market Sectors

WA urged to focus on grain rail

<span class="" id="parent-fieldname-description"> A Western Australian standing committee on economics and industry has called for parts of the state’s grain rail network to be reopened. </span> <p>In its report delivered last week to the Legislative Assembly of WA’s parliament, the Economics and Industry Standing Committee outlined several findings and recommendations on the management of WA’s freight rail network.<br /><br />One of the more interesting sets of recommendations came with regards to the grain network in WA.<br /><br />The standing committee said the government should try to reclaim closed parts of the state’s grain freight network.<br /><br />According to the report, low standards regarding lines which have been placed into care and maintenance means the prospect of re-opening such lines is made less appealing than it should be.<br /><br />The government should not allow any further lines to be placed into care and maintenance under the current system, the committee recommended. The government should also work with rail line lessees to include trigger mechanisms in lease agreements that will allow some of these lines to be recommissioned.<br /><br />Network lease-holder Brookfield Rail and grain handler CBH Group have been in disputes recently over access to WA’s rail lines, as well as the closure of some ‘Tier Three’ lines in WA which were considered unsafe for use.<br /><br />The gist of the committee’s report is that the government needs to take more control in ensuring the lines are maintained and kept open where possible, despite the fact that the lines are held under long-term leases by private operators.<br /><br />According to the committee, rail leases in the past have been “unnecessarily complex, which has resulted in limited capacity to achieve the objectives and intent of the original government policy.”<br /><br />Specifically regarding the grain sector, the committee said the WA government’s 2009 document Strategic Grain Freight Network Report is now outdated.<br /><br />“CBH Group’s entry into the above rail operations market has fundamentally altered Western Australia’s grain freight landscape,” the committee reported. “The Strategic Grain Network Report is no longer an appropriate document on which to base Western Australia’s grain freight policy.”<br /><br />The committee recommended the state government re-examine the grain freight strategy, and develop associate policies “to ensure the state’s freight infrastructure will meet future requirements.”</p>