WA’s regional rail freight network to receive $200M boost

Image: CBH

Grain growers and other primary producers in regional Western Australia are set to benefit from a $200 million funding package from the state and federal governments to upgrade the freight rail network.

The funding is the first package under the state’s Agricultural Supply Chain Improvement (ASCI) program and includes four projects to help grain growers and other primary producers transport their product to domestic and international markets.

The projects have been identified in close consultation with grain growers’ cooperative CBH, rail network manager Arc Infrastructure, grower groups and local government.

This includes a $22 million commitment 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.

Another $46 million has been earmarked 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.

A further $60 million will be spent for upgrading the Midland Line Main Line 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 around 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.

The remaining $72 million will go towards for the progressive recommissioning of the Narrogin-Kulin rail line and associated works for the Southern Wheatbelt region to service grain and other potential customers in the Narrogin-Wickepin area. 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.

Supply chain improvements were identified by Infrastructure Australia as a priority worthy of investment in its 2021 Infrastructure Priority List.

Following this, the WA Government had established a project team to engage with communities in the Wheatbelt, Great Southern, Mid-West and Goldfields-Esperance regions to discuss planned and potential supply chain investments.

This year, regional Western Australia recorded a 24 million tonne harvest, worth around $8 billion to WA’s economy.

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the McGowan Government was committed to improving regional freight infrastructure.

“We are already spending a record amount on regional roads and we are now able to prioritise further investment on the regional freight rail network,” she said.

“This $200 million will ensure our regional freight network continues to keep up with demand now and into the future.”

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

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


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