WA councils campaign for grain rail upgrade

West Australian councils have backed an industry campaign for an immediate upgrade to the State’s grain freight rail network.

Launched by WestNet Rail, with support from Cooperative Bulk Handling, Australian Railroad Group and the West Australian Local Government Association (WALGA), the campaign aims to prevent 300,000 trucks being added to the State’s roads each year.

WALGA president Cr Bill Mitchell said this level of traffic would have a devastating effect on roads in regional areas.

“If the thousands of kilometres of rail lines currently in use are forced to close, local communities will bear the burden with grain laden trucks streaming through rural, regional and metropolitan towns,” Cr Mitchell said.

“The increased traffic will have a marked effect on the condition of local roads, and ultimately impact upon road safety and the amenity of local communities.”

Cr Mitchell said there was already a shortfall of $112 million per annum to preserve local roads and additional traffic would make it “almost impossible” for councils to manage.

“Given that an investment of $400 million is required to accommodate grain freight on either rail or road, and the additional costs to road safety, greenhouse gas emissions and community amenity in pursuing freight on the road network, a failure to invest in rail will be incredibly short-sighted,” Cr Mitchell said.

“Industry is ready to commit $133m towards investment in maintaining the rail network, now it is up to both State and Federal Governments to step up and demonstrate their commitment to nation building infrastructure projects, as well as the safety and amenity of local communities.”

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