The fate of Tier 3 grain rail lines in the Wheatbelt is emerging as an important election issue for residents of the South West.
Opposition Leader Mark McGowan announced on Friday that should his party win the State Election on March 9, it would allocate $30 million over the next three years to keep the contentious Tier 3 rail lines open and trucks off roads.
In response to Mr McGowan’s announcement, Transport Minister Troy Buswell re-iterated his belief that the future operation of Tier 3 rail was an issue for commercial operator Co-Operative Bulk Handling (CBH) and State rail freight network leaseholder Brookfield Rail.
“Brookfield and CBH have given a commitment to the State Government to work towards developing a long term, financially sustainable model on which Tier 3 can operate,” Mr Buswell said.
“The Opposition’s announcement does not guarantee the future of Tier 3 rail.
“All they have done is push back a commercial decision between Brookfield and CBH to determine if Tier 3 is economically viable and should remain open.”
The Liberal Government laid out $3 million dollars in 2011 to keep the Tier 3 grain lines operational until October 2013, and indicated at the time that it expected the road network would handle the transport of grain from that point.
Mr Buswell has since refused to commit any further funding to Tier 3 rail, but did last year back a Bunge Agribusiness proposal to export 500,000 tonnes of wheat out of Bunbury Port – much of which would arrive in the city by truck.The West Australian Farmers Federation entered the fray on Monday, calling on the Liberals and Nationals to match or better Labor’s $30 million grain rail proposal. WAFarmers president, Dale Park, said the shutdown of Tier 3 rail would result in an estimated additional 57,000 truck movements in WA each year, making it an issue for all road users.
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