WESTERN Australia’s key grain supply chain networks will receive a funding boost, following a joint Commonwealth and state funding commitment of $200 million for the first package of the Agricultural Supply Chain Improvement (ASCI) program.
The four projects funded under the first ASCI package will help WA grain growers and other primary producers transport their product to markets in Australia and around the world.
- $22M for four rail siding extensions for CBH grain bins at Moora, Brookton, Cranbrook, and Broomehill, with works now under way;
- $46M for seven additional grain rail-siding upgrades at Avon, Kellerberrin, Dowerin, Konnongorring, Ballidu, Mingenew, and Perenjori North;
- $60M for Midland Line Main Line upgrading 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 400,000t of grain per year being carried on this section, the upgrade will provide operational improvements and freight cost savings for growers delivering to bins on selected line sections; and,
- $72M for the Southern Wheatbelt region towards the progressive recommissioning of the Narrogin-Kulin rail line and associated works to service grain and other potential customers in the Narrogin-Wickepin area via a Tier 3 line. 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.
WA Government Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the projects have been determined in close consultation with CBH Group, rail network manager Arc Infrastructure, grower groups and local government.
“This $200 million will ensure our regional freight network continues to keep up with demand now and into the future,” Ms Saffioti said.
“The ASCI rail project funding, closely aligned with CBH’s train loading investments, will deliver freight cost savings and grain price benefits each year to grain growers throughout the agricultural region.”
CBH, Arc involvement
CBH Group chief executive officer Ben Macnamara said for CBH and the grain growing industry, these works will further assist the effort to move grain rapidly to port after harvest to capitalise on strong international demand and high prices.
“Improving the outloading capabilities of Western Australia’s grain supply chain is a major focus for CBH, and we are proud to invest alongside the Government’s rail siding projects with rapid rail loading equipment to ensure longer trains can be loaded faster and get to port more efficiently,” Mr Macnamara said.
“The record 2021-22 harvest, which saw over 21.3Mt delivered to CBH sites, highlights the need to continually improve the network to ensure we can move more tonnes to port to meet market demand.”
Arc Infrastructure has committed to self-deliver the Midland Railway upgrade works and will support CBH with the delivery of the rail sidings.
Arc Infrastructure chief executive officer Murray Cook said in a statement that the Government’s ASCI funding would complement Arc’s ongoing investment in the grain rail network.
“Arc Infrastructure is well progressed through a $100m-plus investment program in the grain network, with a specific focus on the Midland Railway and Miling Lines,” Mr Cook said.
“This government funding will increase tonne axle load capacity to help us move more grain freight from trucks to trains, generate freight cost savings for growers, and build an improved sustainable network for the future.”
Future project collaboration
Mr Macnamara said CBH will continue working with all levels of government to improve on agricultural supply chain freight in WA.
“CBH will continue to provide feedback to the Federal and State Governments on projects that improve WA’s agricultural supply chain pathways and deliver the greatest benefit to WA growers.
“CBH will continue to take a fact-based approach that prioritises projects that return value for all WA growers, particularly getting more grain to port to allow our growers to achieve a greater return for their grain.
“We are looking forward to continuing working with all stakeholders and delivering these Package 1 projects, and developing other ASCI packages in the future, for the benefit of our growers, regional communities and the agriculture industry.”
Source: WA Government, ARC Infrastructure, CBH Group