Railing against grain

A heavy haulage truck thunders down Great Eastern Highway, through the Mundaring townsite. Picture: Bruce Hunt d409313
A heavy haulage truck thunders down Great Eastern Highway, through the Mundaring townsite. Picture: Bruce Hunt d409313

It was revealed last week that Tier 3 lines from York to Quairading and Merredin to Trayning will close for good on October 31.

Brookfield Rail, which operates the rail system under a lease from the State Government, cited a lack of government investment as one of the factors in the decision.

A recent train derailment was attributed to a lack of maintenance of the rail lines.

Shire of Mundaring President Helen Dullard said the council would be disappointed if the rail lines were to close permanently.

‘Given the significant traffic and particularly truck traffic already on Great Eastern Highway, it would be most disappointing for grain to move from rail to roads as this would only exacerbate the existing safety concerns,’ she said.

Cr Dullard said the loss of Tier 3 rail would result in between 57,000 and 85,000 extra truck movements from Wheatbelt regions travelling to the Kwinana port via Albany Highway, Brookton Highway, Great Northern Highway and Great Eastern Highway.

‘The State Government should move ahead quickly to finalise funding with the Federal Government to meet its election commitment on safety upgrades to Great Eastern Highway between the Mundaring townsite and Greenmount Hill,’ Cr Dullard said.

Opposition transport spokes-man Ken Travers said WA roads were not up to coping with increased traffic from trucks.

‘The extra trucks will add to congestion on already crowded Perth roads,’ Mr Travers said.

‘Great Eastern Highway through Mundaring and roads leading to the Forrestfield and Kwinana grain terminals will be particularly hard hit,’ he said.

WALGA president Troy Pickard said the association’s position was that freight should be carried on rail where possible and in cases where that did not occur, the road network be upgraded and maintained at a suitable standard.

‘Most local roads are not designed for the grain freight task and to move considerable freight on to local roads may have a significantly detrimental effect on road safety and structural integrity of a road,’ Mr Pickard said.

WALGA is seeking State Government support for an audit of road standards and their required upgrades to handle an expected surge in heavy truck traffic as grain is transported by road.

‘As it stands, the current volume of freight being transported by heavy vehicles on local government roads is financially unsustainable ” that is, councils are unable to keep up with the maintenance required as a result of wear and tear,’ Mr Pickard said.