Grain on Rail makes sense: CBH Group

28 Apr, 2009 07:42 AM
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The CBH Group has thrown its support behind Westnet Rail's 'Grain on Rail' initiative.

The program is designed to raise awareness of the need to keep grain on rail and is supported by the Australian Railroad Group (ARG), the Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA) and the WA Farmers Federation (WAFF).

CBH Group chief executive, Dr Andrew Crane, said immediate action was required to ensure the rail network could support the volume of grain that needs to be moved to port each year in Western Australia.

"Rail is by far the most efficient and safest way to transport grain to port, particularly given the long distance hauls and the big tonnages being moved in a good season," Dr Crane said.

However, he said urgent upgrades were required in order to ensure 70 percent of the state’s export grain harvest is moved by rail.

"In the newly deregulated marketing environment, marketers are demanding a land transport system that is flexible, cost effective and reliable enough to deliver up to 2 million tonnes to port in the peak period after harvest," Dr Crane said.

"However the current state of the rail network is unable to deliver this, putting more trucks on roads and effectively placing our $4 billion export industry at risk of losing sales."

According to CBH, WA last month shipped a record 1.54 million tonnes, far more than all other States combined and yet the market may at times require an additional 500,000 tonnes to be out-turned a month.

In attempting to meet increased demand for shipping in the current season, Dr Crane said that in the past two months alone, there were 5000 more road train movements than ever seen on our roads before.

"The safety implications of road movements of this magnitude speak for themselves," he said.

"An upgraded rail system would keep additional trucks off roads and enable our grain industry to take advantage of international demand.

"The time to act is now. Governments and industry must come together to ensure our rail network is sustainable now and in the future."

CBH

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