Gillard chips in for WA grain rail

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The Gillard Labor Government has confirmed it will stump up the $135 million in Federal funding to re-sleeper Tier 1 and 2 rail lines.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese visited the Kwinana Grain Terminal last Friday to re-enforce the Federal Government’s commitment.

The funds had already been announced by the State Government last year as part of a $350 million package, including $178.8 million from the State Government for the Grain Freight Network.

The $135 million in Federal Government funds had long been on the table, but was always contingent on the State also putting up a share, which was not forthcoming until the announcement last November.

CBH acting chief executive Allyn Wasley said the network had suffered from decades of neglect and the funds would provide much needed upgrades.

It was also the catalyst for CBH to invest $175 million in rolling stock, revealed in December. At the same time, CBH announced a new 10-year agreement that would see US company Watco provide rail logistics planning services from May, 2012.

Mr Wasley said CBH was seeking a supplier for its new locomotives in coming weeks, with a tender request being issued last week.

Meanwhile, the Wheatbelt Railway Retention Alliance has warned that city residents should expect traffic congestion and road deterioration on major feeder highways into the city, as grain historically transported by rail is moved to road.

The group, which represents 16 shires, is incensed at the State Government’s failure to fund Tier 3 rail lines, which are now slated for closure.

York shire chief executive Ray Hooper, a spokesman for the alliance, said an average of 93 per cent of all grain transported from rail sites in the Wheatbelt area was moved by rail.

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