No trains but crossing restricts trucks

28 Feb, 2015 01:00 AM
"It's a bloody ridiculous situation, there's no trains on the line anymore.

WHILE CBH Group and Brookfield Rail prepare to negotiate the future of Tier 3 grain lines, lingering legacies of their closure on June 30 still rankle with farmers, transport operators and regional shire councils.

Narembeen farmer Owen Hall raised the Mt Walker Road Tier 3 level crossing and intersection with the Narembeen-Kondinin Road, 400 metres south of Narembeen townsite, as one such irritation last week.

Mr Hall pointed out that 36.5 metre roadtrains carting grain from the CBH Mt Walker receival site via Narembeen to Merredin, could no longer use the Mt Walker Road - a designated grain freight route.

The "stacking distance" between the boundary of the intersection at Narembeen-Kondinin Road back along Mt Walker Road to the boundary of the level crossing on the closed Tier 3 Merredin-Kondinin rail line is insufficient to accommodate a 36.5m roadtrain, Mr Hall said.

"Marley's Transport is one of two preferred grain cartage contractors for CBH,'' he said.

"Thirteen days after they closed the Tier 3 lines, the heavies (Main Roads WA heavy vehicle inspectors) came out and checked all of Marley's trucks carting grain out of Mt Walker.

"When they didn't find anything wrong, they measured the stacking distance on the Mt Walker Road and said it was 30.4m.

"Pocket roadtrains (27.5m) have a little bit of leeway, but full roadtrains can't use that road unless they stop and drop a trailer off before they get to the level crossing.

"I haven't seen any of them do that yet."

Narembeen Shire Council chief executive officer Chris Jackson said he had received an email from Main Roads WA advising that approval for 36.5m roadtrains to use the Mt Walker Road has been "withdrawn".

"It's a bloody ridiculous situation, there's no trains on the line anymore," Mr Jackson said.

"It's very frustrating.

"From our (Narembeen Shire's) perspective, we'd prefer to see fewer trucks on that road getting the job done quickly rather than more trucks."

The Mt Walker Road was part of the regional grain freight network, Mr Jackson said.

"We (shire) got about $8.5 million (from Main Roads) to spend on it for upgrades.

"We've got about $2m left to spend, mainly on the Narembeen end of it, so we don't have so many trucks through the centre of town."

Transport operator Stephen Marley said the problem at Narembeen could be resolved by simply replacing a stop sign facing drivers on Mt Walker Road, at the Narembeen-Kondinin Road, with a give-way sign.

"The solution is as simple as replacing a sign, but it's a political situation there," Mr Marley said.

"There were a couple of others (Tier 3 rail crossings) where the stacking distance was short and they were solved by either changing the sign or shifting the white line (marking the intersection boundary)," he said.

"We had the same thing at Muntadgin (on the same closed Tier 3 line) and that was solved in a week by a pro-active shire (Merredin) coming out, having a look and changing the sign."

Mr Marley said the stacking distance problem only related to the Mt Walker, Muntadgin and Wogarl bins because they were the ones where 36.5m road trains were used.

"In my opinion, the whole thing (grain freight road network) was a cock-up," he said.

"All of the roads in the network should have been handed over to Main Roads to administer.

"That way, there would have at least been some consistency in the administration of them and the standards that applied to them.

"Some of the shires that received money to upgrade roads in the grain freight network have done very well out of it."

Comment was sought from Main Roads on traffic controls at Tier 3 lines crossings but had not been received when Farm Weekly went to press.

Mal Gill

Mal Gill

is wool and dairy writer for Farm Weekly
Date: Newest first | Oldest first


28/02/2015 9:10:52 AM, on Farm Weekly

if only farmers in the eastern wheatbelt knew how their costs are about to explode from 2016 onwards cos of the low dollar and legacy issues from poor investment in the grain network, they'd be fighting for their CBH equity. land values gonna sink further as the exodus gathers pace. lime running out at Lancelin. the pain gonna keep rising. socialism only a crisis away


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