Rail the ‘safest option’

Opposition leader Mark McGowan attacked the Government over its handling of the closure of key Tier 3 rail lines, citing Office of Road Safety statistics that showed 50 people out of every 100,000 travellers on Wheatbelt Roads died in 2012 ” by far the highest fatality rate in the State.

‘It was two-and-a-half times the rate of the Midwest and the Gascoyne, which have the next highest death rates,’ Mr McGowan said.

Further statistics tabled showed 740 people either died or were seriously injured on Wheatbelt roads from 2000-2010.

‘The Wheatbelt already has the highest road fatility rate in the State,’ Mr McGowan said.

‘The region now faces the prospect of an even greater number of truck movements as a consequence of the closure of the Tier 3 lines.

‘Based on the advice of farmers in the area, it is a bumper crop this season and the roads are not in good condition.’

Transport Minister Troy Buswell said in reply that the lack of viability of the Tier 3 lines was linked directly to the way Co-operative Bulk Handling often chose to use trucks over rail to ship grain to port.

He said about 60 per cent of WA’s average wheat crop of 10 million tonnes was traditionally shipped by rail. But in the Wheatbelt Tier 3 region, the ratio of road to rail was much higher.

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