The Western Australian Farmers Federation (Inc.) (WAFarmers), as part of its 2013 State Election Key Issues, is calling for the extension of the operation of Tier 3 rail lines beyond the State Government’s current commitment of October 31, 2013.
WAFarmers President, Dale Park, said WAFarmers and the people of the wheatbelt would be seeking a commitment from the State Government to find a long term solution for Tier 3 rail and the broader grain rail network.
“WA Labor came out last week and committed $30 million over three years to Tier 3 rail lines and now it is up to the Liberals and Nationals to match or improve that offer to the farmers and eastern Wheatbelt residents,” Mr Park said.
“WAFarmers and affiliated organisation, the Wheatbelt Railway Retention Alliance’s, consistent position has been that closing the Tier 3 network would result in an additional minimum of 57,000 truck movements in Western Australia each year, including throughout the Perth metropolitan area,” Mr Park said.
“The CBH Group released rate estimates which show a seven per cent decrease in rail rates and a five to eight per cent increase in road rates and we believe this will only improve with more investment in grain rail infrastructure.
“Some areas of Tier 3 network have not been maintained to the optimum level, meaning that in some section the locomotives are travelling at under 20 km/hr.”
Mr Park said whichever party or parties formed government, there is a need to develop a long term plan so that the grain rail network is catered for.
“This is not purely an issue for agriculture and farmers; this is an issue for road users across the state. Transporting grain via trucks increases traffic on our roads and we have seen over the past few months a number of traffic incidents between passenger vehicles and grain trucks,” he said.
“By investing in Tier 3 rail, we can decrease wear and tear on our underfunded rural roads and increase efficiencies in transporting grain to port,” Mr Park concluded.