Grain safety fear

Kellie BalaamNarrogin Observer
CBH-owned locomotives and wagons carting grain on Arc Infrastructure lines.
Camera IconCBH-owned locomotives and wagons carting grain on Arc Infrastructure lines. Credit: Supplied

Farmers are concerned about road safety risks after being forced to continue trucking grain to port under the CBH and Arc rail deal.

Kulin farmer Harry Hodgson, of Amaroo Farm, said he was frustrated that the arbitrated outcome of the deal between CBH and Arc Infrastructure could not find a solution to re-open the Tier 3 rail lines.

“The (Tier 3) closure affects my town, it affects the roads and basically the whole community,” Mr Hodgson said.

“We need grain on rail.”

CBH members visited the Bruce Rock and Kulin communities and held meetings to provide impacted local grain growers with guidance and information about the arbitration.

Announced on Monday, November 4, the rail access deal has secured long-term access to the WA Grain Freight Rail Network until 2026.

The seven-year rail access deal allows CBH to run grain trains on the 15 freight lines it currently uses, including the Miling line.

However, there are doubts about whether the agreement will allow the re-opening of the Tier 3 rail lines that were closed in 2014.

The closure of the Tier 3 lines has been an issue for growers in the affected Wheatbelt areas.

Mr Hodgson said he was pleased local farmers were invited to the CBH community meeting.

“It shows that CBH cares and that they are trying,” he said

“It’s a complex issue and I understand they are doing everything they can from what I can see.”

CBH chairman Wally Newman said Tier 3 lines would not be re-opened as part of the arbitrated outcome because of the deterioration of the lines and expensive capital costs.

“The investment required to re-open Tier 3 lines was simply uneconomical for CBH to accept on behalf of growers as it would have required freight rates to increase significantly,” Mr Newman said.

“While the costs are confidential, due to arbitration obligations, accepting these costs would have significantly impacted international competitiveness of growers and the entire WA grain industry.”

CBH chief executive officer Jimmy Wilson said CBH felt an “obligation” to speak to the farmers directly.

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