AN additional seven CBH Group receival sites are set to undergo rail siding upgrades after receiving joint funding from the State and Federal governments.
Some $46 million will be spent at Avon, Kellerberrin, Dowerin, Konnongorring, Ballidu, Mingenew and Perenjori North, adding on to the $22m which was announced by the State government last year for upgrades to Moora, Broomehill, Brookton and Cranbrook.
In total, $200m in funding for the first package of the Agricultural Supply Chain Improvement (ASCI) program was announced on Tuesday, which is to be split 80:20 between the Federal and State governments respectively.
CBH chief executive officer Ben Macnamara said improving the outloading capabilities of WA's grain supply chain was a major focus for the co-operative.
"The recent record harvest highlighted the importance of having an efficient grain supply chain which delivers tonnes to port at the right time to meet peak demand in the first half of the shipping year," Mr Macnamara said.
"These projects are critical to improving the efficiency of the grain supply chain and allowing our world class growers to meet market demand and capitalise on peak international prices when they are available."
The siding upgrades are to be complemented by more than $200m of investment in rapid loading bins and elevators by CBH.
Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the joint government funding would ensure WA's regional freight network continues to keep up with demand now and into the future.
"The recent record harvest of 24 million tonnes shows that we need to continue to invest in road and rail to provide an increasingly efficient transport network," Ms Saffioti said.
"As this continues to be the standard, rather than the exception, we're going to have to continually invest so we see this as an ongoing program."
At Moora, the upgrades would mean an improvement in efficiency from 11 hours to load a train, to three hours.
On top of that, the Moora siding is too short which means trains need to be broken down into smaller sets and when the train is pulling out of the site, it blocks key intersections.
The investment also allows CBH to bring one consist in, load in a shorter window and limit the impact on the local community.
Mr Macnamara said overall it would enable them to get two trains to Kwinana per day, compared to less than one at the moment, and other projects would provide similar results.
"From a community perspective, it adds predictability to the supply chain which means we can optimise the way we outload," he said.
"At the moment we need to activate intra-silo contractors to assist us to outload a site and if a train is arriving in the middle of the night we're getting people out of bed then and providing inconsistent work.
"These projects bring consistency meaning we have daylight hours and these people can be really viable members of our regional communities, creating a more sustainable outcome for them."
Moora and Broomehil are the most progressed with all of the design and engineering having been completed and the project waiting on final regulatory approval.
It is hoped those projects will start toward the end of this year and be completed by the 2023/24 harvest, however that is a 12-month delay on what was proclaimed when funding was announced in 2021.
Brookton and Cranbrook are in the final stages of design, while preliminary works have started on the next seven sites with completion of all projects expected in 2025.
On top of the rail siding projects, a further $60m was also provided for upgrading the Midland Line Main Line upgrading from 16 tonne axle loading (TAL) to 19 TAL between Carnamah and Mingenew.
With around 400,000t of grain per year being carried on this section, the upgrade will provide operational improvements and freight cost savings for all graingrowers delivering to bins on selected line sections;
"We're carting 12 tonnes of air in every wagon, so this will enable a 20 per cent efficiency gain," Mr Macnamara said.
"We would like to see more of those projects occur throughout the State as it gives us consistency in terms of how we schedule and the make-up of our rolling stock."
With package one of ASCI now secured, the State government has already submitted a proposal for the next stage.
"The feedback we've had so far from the Federal authorities has been that they want us to demonstrate delivery before they continue funding," Ms Saffioti said.
"Once some successful projects are delivered, I think there will be more and more funding that will come to this industry."
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