The state government must take action to amend its freight network lease, and should take action to recommission rail lines that have been put into care and maintenance, according to a report by the state parliament’s Economic and Industry Standing Committee.
The state government must take action to amend its freight network lease, and should recommission rail lines that had been put into care and maintenance, according to a report by the state parliament’s Economic and Industry Standing Committee.
The committee, chaired by Liberal MLA Ian Blayney, with an additional Liberal, National and two Labor members, unanimously recommended that no further lines be put into care and maintenance, and that the government re-examine its grain freight strategy.
Dating from 2009, the Strategic Grain Network Report, which underpins the government’s grain freight policy, was based on assumptions which no longer hold true, the committee said.
The inquiry, which began in March, followed substantial public debate after the gradual closure of tier 3 rail lines by operator Brookfield Rail.
Brookfield had put the lines under care and maintenance due to safety issues.
The 509 kilometres of tier 3 track represented around 10 per cent of the network by distance, but moved only 1 per cent of the total tonnage across the network.
“As we have long argued, it is in the best interests of the stakeholders – that is, the families and communities who rely on tier 3 rail – that these lines be reopened as a matter of urgency,” he said.
“WAFarmers has advocated for a long time for the release of the lease to give those who are most impacted some idea as to why their communities and businesses are being let down.
“The report indicates a lack of transparency from multiple parties, which is something we have encountered repeatedly over the past few years.
“It is disappointing that it has taken such an inquiry for documents such as the lease to be made public.”
Transport Minister Dean Nalder thanked the committee for their work and said the government would consider it in full.
In a statement today, Brookfield Rail chief executive Paul Larsen said the company wanted to keep freight on rail as long as it was safe and viable to do so.
“As we have stated previously, Brookfield Rail is open and willing to invest with CBH or any other interested party to find a way to re-open the Tier 3 lines," Mr Larsen said.