$200m in State and Federal funding so freight infrastructure keeps up with growing demand

May 3 2022 - 2:05am
$200m boost for regional rail freight network

Western Australia's key agricultural areas will receive a funding boost for freight infrastructure, following a joint Commonwealth and State funding commitment of $200 million for the first package of the Agricultural Supply Chain Improvement (ASCI) program.

The announcement was made at the CBH Brookton site this morning.,

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On the back of a record 24 million tonne harvest, worth around $8 billion to WA's economy, the State government today said it was committed to ensuring freight infrastructure kept up with growing demand.

The four projects funded under the first ASCI package will help WA graingrowers and other primary producers transport their product to markets, in Australia and around the world.

The projects to be funded have been determined in close consultation with CBH, rail network manager Arc Infrastructure, grower groups and local government.

The $200m package will go towards the following four project areas.

This government funding will leverage millions in private sector investment for the region:

$22m for four rail siding extensions for CBH grain bins at Moora, Brookton, Cranbrook, and Broomehill, complementing significant CBH investment in rail loading facilities. These works are now underway;

$46m for seven additional grain rail siding upgrades at Avon, Kellerberrin, Dowerin, Konnongorring, Ballidu, Mingenew, and Perenjori North, which will help CBH load longer trains much more quickly;

$60m for Midland Line Main Line upgrading from 16 Tonne Axle Loading (TAL) to 19 TAL between Carnamah and Mingenew, allowing heavier trains and a 20 per cent increase in train loads. With about 400,000 tonnes of grain per year being carried on this section, the upgrade will provide operational improvements and freight cost savings for all grain growers delivering to bins on selected line sections; and

$72m for the southern Wheatbelt region, towards the progressive recommissioning of the Narrogin-Kulin rail line and associated works to service grain and other potential customers in the Narrogin-Wickepin area, a Tier 3 line. The Narrogin-Kulin line was closed in 2013. The first stage of this project will be a study to assess the most useful way to make this investment for the benefit of all potential freight users and the community.

The siding upgrades are to be complemented by at least $200m of investment in rapid loading bins and elevators by CBH.

For CBH and the graingrowing industry, these works will further assist the effort to move grain rapidly to port after harvest, to capitalise on strong international demand and high prices.

Loading longer trains more quickly at the strategically located CBH bins will bring tangible financial returns to growers in the region.

The $72m Southern Wheatbelt project will provide the opportunity for more grain on rail and off roads. Equally important, it will provide the capacity for other primary producers, for example hay exporters, to use a rail service.

The new WA Kaolin clay mine, near Wickepin, will also benefit from a potential rail freight service, as its export production ramps up in coming years.

Securing this funding means the planning and design phase can now commence, with completion of the projects expected in 2025.

The State and Commonwealth governments have already partnered to deliver $187.5m in funding for the Wheatbelt Secondary Freight Network program.

A further $36 million in joint funding will commence the Mid-West and Great Southern Secondary Freight Network programs, to further improve export connections throughout the agricultural regions.

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