Tier 3 'political pawn'

01 Mar, 2013 01:00 AM
Darren Power.
Darren Power.

WA'S Livestock and Rural Transport Association (LTRAWA) has vented its frustration at what it calls "the continuing bias in reporting and claims made by those calling for continued investment in Tier 3 rail".

Last week the head of the association's rural section Darren Power went on the record, saying emotional issues like road safety were being used as a pawn to win points in a political argument and facts had simply been conveniently left out or in some cases, completely misrepresented.

Mr Power said 89 per cent of the road accidents quoted by groups like the Wheatbelt Railway Retention Alliance (WRRA) were in fact single vehicle crashes of which many had involved hitting a tree or other roadside structure or were rollovers.

"About 11pc of accidents involved another vehicle," he said.

He also went on to say claims made by the WRRA which suggested the closure of Tier 3 rail lines would add about 85,000 extra trucks to WA roads was another statement not supported by reality.

"Approximately 12pc of the State's harvest is transported by Tier 3 rail so even with a bumper crop we could only expect an additional 32,000 trucks over a 12-month period," Mr Power said.

"It's dishonest to suggest Perth and Fremantle would be inundated with road trains if Tier 3 lines close because the majority of grain would be transported by road to large regional storage depots located on viable rail lines where it would be stored until shifted to Forrestfield or Kwinana by rail.

"CBH doesn't ship the entire harvest every year and there are no storage facilities at Kwinana."

He said taxpayers should welcome the suggestion that each Tier 3 line was assessed for viability because it meant spending decisions would be made based on sound economic evidence rather than emotion and wild assertions.

He also believed it was hypocritical for proponents of Tier 3 rail to condemn investment in road maintenance and upgrades in the Wheatbelt while quoting safety reasons as their campaign motivation.

"Our association has consistently supported a viable rail network but investment in rail for a single commodity must not come at the expense of a well maintained road network," Mr Power said.

"Farmers still want their livestock and fertiliser carted as cost effectively as possible so a good road network is essential."

But WRRA chairman Bill Cowan stood by his association's figures, claiming they were absolutely correct based on CBH figures from individual production years.

"They're based on the range of grain tonnes grown in WA and the capacity of an average sized truck," Mr Cowan told Farm Weekly.

"Trucks can't fly back to where they came from, they have to drive back from their destination empty as well.

"We're not saying all accidents within those figures are caused by trucks.

"But what we've said all along is trucks will add to the statistics directly or indirectly.

"If you put more vehicles on the road common sense tells you they will add to the likelihood of more accidents."

He also told Farm Weekly proponents of Tier 3 rail had never condemned road investment by the Federal or State Governments but encouraged road maintenance to be carried out in appropriate areas.

"The most important thing to remember is if rail maintenance is carried out and the lines are utilised more money will be left over to be put back into road freight maintenance where it's really needed," Mr Cowan said.

"With a long-term vision, what's not to say fertiliser and lime might one day be carted on rail as well.

"Nobody appreciates the need for safe country roads more than me and that's why we need to have the least number of heavy grain vehicles on them as possible so when the State's livestock transporters move livestock throughout WA they can do it on roads that are up to standard and haven't been wrecked by extra and unnecessary grain trucks."

Shadow Transport Minister Ken Travers strongly agreed with Mr Cowan and said despite the LTRAWA's concerns about biased arguments and inaccurate figures, it was a matter of striking an investment balance.

He said road freight had a legitimate role to play in regional WA and trucks were an important part the State's freight task.

But as far as he was concerned, if Tier 3 rail was able to assist in completing the task, then it it too had a role to play - particularly if it was found to be cheaper.

Late last week a CBH spokesperson told Farm Weekly the movement of grain via rail would always be a preferred option for CBH, especially since the majority of its storage facilities were built to accommodate rail movements.

But the use of road transport to complement moving grain by rail would always be necessary.

"CBH agrees with the LTRAWA that a safe and effective road network is essential," the spokesperson said.

"And we'd also like to confirm the Kwinana grain terminal in fact does have grain storage facilities for over one million tonnes, along with its rail and truck out loading facilities."

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Drowning in debt
1/03/2013 8:23:28 AM, on Farm Weekly

Tier 3? who cares? the rate we are going out here trying to get banks to lend us money there wont be much need for a rail system.
beacon boy
1/03/2013 8:38:19 AM, on Farm Weekly

everyone (surprisingly farmers to) is worried about a rail line when the real worry should be whether there will be any farmers around to fill the trains with wheat??? world gone mad. let me tell ya there are plenty of farmers in mandurah who will never use tier 3
someone from Corrigin
3/03/2013 9:05:29 AM, on Farm Weekly

Its sad to see that the state govt and other people that don't care about road safety. Rail transport is about 7 times safer than road transport and a lot more fuel efficient. When we have the next oil crisis is the state govt going to pay for the fuel all the grain road freight will use ? I don't think so. We need to keep the grain on rail. I see some of the new road works are pot holing all ready so how are they going to take all the grain traffic? there not.
4/03/2013 9:16:54 AM, on Farm Weekly

Maybe levy farmers more to cover the cost of the damage their grain does to roads? You want socialism, be prepared to pay for it as well.
Down For The Count
4/03/2013 2:28:41 PM, on Farm Weekly

Unles we get some finance you will be able to cart the grain crop in the back of your cars .Bigger issues than trains .
5/03/2013 12:00:11 AM, on Farm Weekly

Socialism? Road accidents? why do miners spend more on rail than anything else? with farmers being cost and weather squeezed (do only "socialists" believe in drier conditions stil?) shouldn't efficiency be the focus? show me a roadtrain system for grain that is more efficient than rail - I'll support it.
Drowning in debt
5/03/2013 7:35:01 AM, on Farm Weekly

this aint about efficiency. its about whether a rail network will have sufficient volume in the future to warrant any option other than road. cos when you have farmers walking away from their land you only need a one way road to mandurah cobba!! farmers are your most important asset to protect
walking away
5/03/2013 7:47:51 AM, on Farm Weekly

road accidents, efficiency? what about farmer suicides? lots of misplaced priorties in the wheatbelt . farmers are more important than a bloody rail system, cos the choice is there dont ya know
Dear Me
7/03/2013 7:38:13 AM, on Farm Weekly

WALKING AWAY - your point is? How many more services do we need to put out there for assistance? Also close the railway lines and farmers will cart to larger road sites - some may but once you have a large rig loaded why would you stop local? Surely you would keep going to port which does have storage regardless of the comment from the idiot above. Talking about truck numbers 30k+ additional on the roads is a shirt load of trouble waiting to happen!


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