A report tabled in State Parliament today by the Auditor General, Colin Murphy, has backed up the concerns of the Western Australian Farmers Federation (Inc.) (WAFarmers), in relation to Tier 3 rail lines.
Tier 3 rail lines make up part of the State’s rail freight network, whose 49-year lease was the subject of the report, Management of the Rail Freight Network Lease: Twelve Years Down the Track.
The report indicates that without further government funding, the remaining eight Tier 3 rail lines are “likely to be taken out of service after 2013.”
WAFarmers President, Dale Park, said the report backs up the concerns of WAFarmers and affiliate organisation, the Wheatbelt Railway Retention Alliance (WRRA).
“Tier 3 rail is a vital component of the State’s grain industry and has been vastly under funded by successive State Governments,” Mr Park said.
“The Auditor General points out that two lines have already been withdrawn from service and without more funding the other eight are likely to go down the same track.
“The Tier 3 rail lines need to be funded. The CBH Group has committed to using the lines by purchasing new rolling stock and already we are seeing the benefits with a seven per cent decrease in rail rates.
“The questions also need to be raised about the performance of rail network lease holder, Brookfield Rail, and whether it’s meeting its responsibilities to the operation and maintenance of the rail network.
The Auditor General’s report highlights some of the risks the State faces over the remaining years of the lease, including keeping track performance standards up to date and the need to adapt or step outside of the lease to meet policy objectives on the grain lines.
“Imagine if the tracks were actually up to standard, the savings which could be achieved on current rates, not to mention the increase to the safety of all motorists with less grain transported via road, would benefit all Western Australians,” Mr Park said.
Mr Park welcomed the news that the Public Transport Authority (PTA) was developing a risk-based contract management plan for the lease.
“WAFarmers looks forward to the public release of this plan and calls on the PTA to commit resources to ensure as much grain as possible is transported via rail,” Mr Park concluded.