24/09/2009 - 14:45

Farmers want action on rail network

24/09/2009 - 14:45

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WA's rail network is not ready for the next harvest and this could result in a large increase in the amount of grain being transported by road, the WA Farmers Federation has warned.

Farmers want action on rail network

WA's rail network is not ready for the next harvest and this could result in a large increase in the amount of grain being transported by road, the WA Farmers Federation has warned.

 

The announcement is below:

 

 

The Western Australian Farmers Federation (Inc.) (WAFarmers) is calling on Government and key infrastructure providers to detail their plans for the movement of grain to port for the upcoming and future harvests.

WAFarmers Grain Section President, Derek Clauson, said farmers and rural communities are concerned at the lack of detail being provided in regards to the grain transport task, especially given the impacts of wheat marketing deregulation and the threatened closure of sections of the narrow gauge system.

"We saw the cracks starting to appear in the system in the first harvest following deregulation and we are concerned that unless there is some positive action by the Government, we will see large quantities of grain leaving rail for road to meet delivery demands."

"Increased movements of grain on road will have significant social and long term cost consequences for Western Australians and the grain industry.

"For an average crop of 10 million tonnes each harvest, substantial tonnages are already transported on road. This tonnage could potentially double, meaning a significant increase in road trains on Western Australian roads.

"It is inevitable that the price of fossil fuels will trend upwards in the future and this, coupled with potential carbon taxes, must result in road transport being non-competitive with rail in regards to future grain transportation.

"The Federal Government has recognised the urgency of improving the grain freight rail network in Western Australia and has put funding aside to address this issue, on the condition that the State Government, who owns the rail network, also provides funding.

"It is essential that we have an efficient and cost effective grain transportation network in Western Australia that does not erode community amenity.

"If Western Australia's transportation system is not able to deliver grain to port efficiently, grain traders will be unable to fulfil contract obligations. This will have negative impacts on the reputation of Western Australian grain.

"WAFarmers believe that keeping grain on rail is in the best interests of the community, not only from a grain industry perspective, but also from a social and road safety perspective" concluded Mr Clauson.

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