WA rail pullout means 300,000 more trucks needed

WA Grain Industry may abandon rail after grain freight rail network failed to receive significant funding in WA Budget

The West Australian grain industry may be forced to abandon rail as its preferred transport method after the grain freight rail network failed to receive significant funding in the WA Budget.

Co-operative Bulk Handling (CBH) Executive Manager for Operations Logistics Tim Collins says WestNet Rail, which runs the network, has muted that it may have to close down the service as it can no longer be deemed safe.

It is estimated that over 300,000 trucks would be needed to move the three and a half million tonnes of grain harvested every season in the area, something CBH would accept reluctantly.

"No money in the Budget [for the rail line] is not a good sign, but it isn’t the end of the road in terms of funding," Collins says.

"We are in discussions with the government, but it is looking more likely we may have to use road transport in the future."

And Collins says the first harvest to be moved by road could be this year’s, which is set to be reaped in November.

"We have drawn a line in the sand [to have an answer on rail funding] for 15 June, if there is no funding by then WestNet will pull the plug," Collins says.

"Once we know what the situation is we will be talking to our contractors and they may be sourcing [trucks] nationally.

"I hope we don’t get to this but it is looking increasingly likely the option we will have is road transport."

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