Rail section to be open by May: Arc

Cally DupeCountryman
A CBH train on the Toodyay to Miling line, at Miling.
Camera IconA CBH train on the Toodyay to Miling line, at Miling. Credit: Cally Dupe

A 45km stretch of rail used to transport grain from Piawaning to Miling will remain closed until at least May, nearly a year after a train derailment forced its closure.

The stretch was closed last harvest after a derailment on June 26, leading to what grain handler CBH said was “considerable additional cost” to its bottom line.

Arc Infrastructure has reopened about two-thirds of the 135km Toodyay West to Miling line in stages since the derailment.

The State Government-owned line is leased by Arc Infrastructure and used exclusively by CBH to cart grain from its country sites to the Kwinana Grain Terminal for export.

A CBH spokeswoman said the closure had forced the handler to transport grain from Miling by road.

“The Toodyay West to Piawaning section of the Miling rail line is now open but the northern section of the line has been closed since September,” she said.

“CBH is keen to start reusing the line as soon and as safely as possible, and has incurred considerable additional cost to transport grain to port for export as a result of the closure.”

Arc this week revealed its first official time frame for the line to reopen, with a spokeswoman saying it would be in May.

“Arc has undertaken a thorough and rigorous assessment of the 45km of line from Piawaning to Miling, to determine what work will be required to reopen the line for the safe operation of trains,” she said.

“The work required will be completed by May, to enable the Piawaning to Miling section to reopen.”

On June 26, a CBH locomotive pulling 30 wagons filled with 1400 tonnes of barley fell on its side at Miling. An investigation was launched to determine the cause but images obtained by Countryman appeared to show a crack in the rail line.

The Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator this week confirmed an investigation had been launched and it was “conducting ongoing regulatory activities in response”, to determine the root cause and “work with rail companies ... to avoid incidents of this nature in the future”.

A spokesman said its report would not be made public.

The June 26 derailment was the first this year but there were three derailments across Arc’s network last year, two of which occurred on the Esperance branch line after flash flooding and one on the Eastern Goldfields railway line, according to Arc.

The derailment sparked concern from local growers, who held mounting concerns that parts of the line would be closed indefinitely. They told Countryman the line needed urgent upgrades to remain safe.

Arc said it would definitely reopen the Piawaning to Miling line.

Miling farmer and Shire of Moora president Ken Seymour, who was elected to the CBH board this week, spoke to Countryman ahead of the election result.

He said long-term uncertainty about the future of the West Toodyay to Miling line had stifled CBH investment in the Miling grain bin.

“I am relieved to hear the line will reopen,” he said.

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