Australia’s grain train
Australia has a massive grain transport industry especially in the Western part. Grain train used to be the most popular and largest means of transporting these grains. However, with the slowly dilapidation of the tracks and the high maintenance needed, it is slowly ailing. There is a $400 million budget needed to pass a bill to upgrade and resurrect the grain train network in Australia.
With the trucking companies increasing their share in the big transport industry in Western Australia, the grain train network is slowly decreasing in popularity and use. Trucks are now usually used for the transport of grain, and they yield a high income per year for this industry.
The West Australian Farmers Federation
This federation is working hard on convincing the federal government to save every kilometer of the grain train network. They even want the most ragged part of these tracks to be saved. They believe these tracks should be saved because there are around 150,000 train movements every year. These movements are from the grain bins to the ports. These movements are only from the train and it does not include movements from the trucks yet. These farmers can produce up to 15 million tons of grain every year.
The Transport Minister Simon O’Brien acknowledges how important it is to preserve the tracks. He already commissioned a report for the tracks and who will fund it. About $400 million is needed to save the network. However, Mr. Norton believes that the tracks are not very popular in some communities and towns. This will only make the government shell out more money on repairs. The traffic and the roads will find it hard to cope 15 million to 20 million tons of grain being transported in some of the towns and communities.
Now, Mr. Norton is working on some recommendations, together with the Strategic Grain Network Committee, for the Barnett government. The committee has agreed that both trains and trucks will be transporting the grains at present. Mr. Norton hopes that the rail would not be an issue anymore as soon as upgrading and maintenance investment comes soon. The Barnett Government will be asked to contribute a third of the cost for repairing and maintaining the rail roads. The commonwealth government will also contribute a third of the amount. The grain transport industry must also give a third of the amount. This way, there will be enough funds to repair and maintain the rail road network.
When WestNet Rail took over the rail road network back in 2000, they allowed closures in some of the track, this lead to the issue of poor condition on parts and of the network. According to the WestNet Rail analysis, there is only a small amount of incentive of about 10% for a very expensive work requirement for the sections of the network. Now there are plans on how to repair and maintain the rail road network in Western Australia.