The West

Grain trains to stay
Wheatbelt Railway Retention Alliance chairman Bill Cowan.

Grain trains have been given a stay of execution after the State Government postponed the closure of the Tier 3 lines.

Advocate for the continued operation of Tier 3 railway lines Bill Cowan said he welcomed the postponement.

The Wheatbelt Railway Retention Alliance chairman told the Great Southern Herald he and the Save Grain on Rail campaign would continue to put pressure on the Government and all parties until a commitment was made.

“The Government needs to put some money into their asset (the railway line) so that trains can run safely and efficiently on these lines,” he said.

“Once this commitment is given then there must also be some negotiations between CBH and Brookfield to broker a deal on the maintenance of the track to bring about a long-term solution.”

Transport Minister Troy Buswell announced earlier this month Tier 3 railway lines would remain in operation until October 31 next year, when previously they were scheduled to close before this harvest.

Following a meeting with CBH and Brookfield Rail, Mr Buswell said a commitment had been made to achieve a sustainable, long-term grain transport network, but would not go into further detail.

“Brookfield and CBH will continue ongoing dialogue on the transport of grain by rail and, if economically viable, keep Tier 3 lines operational in the future,” he said.

Despite welcoming the decision, Mr Cowan said he would continue to champion the issue.

“We are in the lead up to a State Election and my message for the Liberal-National Government is that this rail debate will not go away,” he said.

Mr Cowan said if the lines were to close permanently next year farmers would face higher freight charges, inefficient time use, and endanger public safety by putting more trucks on the road.

It is a sentiment echoed by local farmer Geoffrey Beeck, whose family has worked in the area for more than 100 years.

“These railway lines are important,” he said.

“But they need to be seriously upgraded, those Tier 3 are in a pretty poor state.”

Mr Beeck said for the lines to remain viable a mutually beneficial deal needed to be struck between growers, transport companies and the State Government.

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