25/06/2009 - 12:29

WestNet, State agree on grain rail plan

25/06/2009 - 12:29

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WestNet Rail has resumed operations on four regional rail lines after striking an agreement with the Barnett government to assess the long-term future of the state's run-down grain rail network.

WestNet Rail has resumed operations on four regional rail lines after striking an agreement with the Barnett government to assess the long-term future of the state's run-down grain rail network.

On June 15, WestNet suspended operations on the four lines after it did not receive an initial $45 million by an alloted day from the government for urgent upgrades to critical lines.

WestNet, together with other rail alliances and users, are chasing a total of $400 million to upgrade the state's rail network.

Today, the state government and WestNet agreed to establish the Strategic Grain Network Committee (SGNC), a sub-committee of the recently established Freight and Logistics Council that was appointed earlier this month to assess the issue.

The SGNC will be made up of industry representatives and headed by transport expert, Professor Fred Affleck.

"I am confident that the SGNC will provide the Government and the sector with productive and credible recommendations before the end of 2009 that will enable all parties to constructively plan for the future," Transport Minister Simon O'Brien said.

"By the end of July, the council will advise me of the full impacts of current service deficiencies and ways in which the industry and governments can work together to ensure the grain transport system can continue to do the job we all need it to do, both for immediate harvests and for the longer term.

"This will include looking at the line that runs from Northam to Albany.

"By the end of the year, the council will also give me additional advice about the further changes to the rail system that will be required to meet industry's medium term needs over the coming 10-15 years."

WestNet general manager Paul Larsen said he welcomed the government's high priority identification of the Northam to Albany rail line.

"We anticipate a clear recommendation from the Strategic Grain Network Committee on funding for upgrades on the Northam to Albany line in the very near future," he said.

Mr Larson added WestNew will continue to work closely with both state and federal governments and the SGNC.

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