Flooded track raised, reopened after six-month hiatus

Cally DupeThe West Australian
Newdegate farmers.
Camera IconNewdegate farmers. Credit: Fanny McDonald

Reopening a temporarily closed rail line will save growers millions and prevent up to 5000 truck movements on local roads, farmers say.

Arc Infrastructure (formerly Brookfield Rail) recently announced it would reopen the Lake Grace-Newdegate Line before harvest.

The 50km track has been closed since February after the surrounding Lake Biddy flooded and damaged the line.

Bob Iffla farms sheep and grain east of Newdegate, near Lake King, and said reopening the line had potential to save millions of dollars.

He said local growers feared they would bare the the cost of trucking large volumes of grain currently stored at Newdegate.

The site is CBH’s sixth-biggest storage facility in WA. More than 230,000 tonnes was delivered to the bin last year.

“There is about 200,000 tonnes of grain which needs to be moved before this harvest,” Mr Iffla said.

“It would add an extra cost, which has to be picked up by someone. It is money which could be going into farmers’ revenue.”

Arc issued a letter to local growers earlier this month which said it had developed a long-term solution to address “flooding of the rail network in the area”.

Arc asset management and projects general manager Paul Lowney said work to repair the line would start in coming weeks.

The track will be lifted and rebuilt up to a metre higher than its previous level.

“There was never any doubt that we were going to reopen the Newdegate line,” Mr Lowney said.

“However, we wanted to find a solution that would be long-term and able to withstand any further freak flooding that might occur.

“We’re currently in the design phase and while we haven’t got a kick-off date for works yet, this is expected to happen in the next few weeks.”

Ashley MacDonald farms near Lake Biddy and said moving grain from last year’s bumper harvest by truck would be problematic.

“The bottom line is that this lake is not going anywhere,” he said.

“Having to have 5000 truck movements back and forward along the Newdegate-Lake Grace Road is a terrible solution.”

Growers from the area met with Arc Infrastructure on Tuesday to tour the flood-affected portion of the line.

CBH would not reveal how much grain was currently stored at the Newdegate site.

However, it said Newdegate was the 15th biggest receival site in WA, excluding ports and depots, and the biggest in the area.

The site has received on average 186,045 tonnes of grain a year during the past 10 years.

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