Road and rail funding priority roadshow kicks off this week

Headshot of Cally Dupe
Cally DupeThe West Australian
One of the last trains to use the Tier 3 narrow gauge track between Narembeen and Merredin.
Camera IconOne of the last trains to use the Tier 3 narrow gauge track between Narembeen and Merredin. Credit: Mogens Johansen

State Government representatives have embarked on a regional roadshow designed to nut out how to spend $200 million of Federal and State funds earmarked to improve agricultural freight routes in WA.

Seven forums have been scheduled between Geraldton and Esperance from July 22 to August 3, with a focus on road and rail.

The first was expected to be held in Geraldton today, on July 22, with others in Wagin and Merredin on July 26, Dalwallinu and Northam on July 27, Albany on July 29 and Esperance on August 3.

Each forum will be led by the Department of Transport, giving community members the chance to hear about planned upgrades and to direct future investment.

The State Government is still deciding how to spend about $200 million of Federal and State funds allocated to WA agricultural supply chain improvements, after $40 million was allocated by the McGowan Government as part of the State Budget and $160 million was included in the Federal Budget in May.

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said she had asked the department to hold the forums as the State Government continued its “strong focus” on regional WA.

“I have asked the Department of Transport to run forums throughout the regions and hear from the local communities about what they would like to see upgraded as part of the WA agricultural supply chain program,” she said.

“The forums will provide an update on work that has already been done and look for feedback on the proposals being considered as part of the agricultural supply chain improvement program.

“They will also explain the process and seek feedback on the work under way to identify and rank the longer-term program of rail and road investment proposals.

“This will form part of the next stage of a business case our Government will submit to Infrastructure Australia, which will guide future packages of funding.”

The $200 million in funding includes $40 million from the State Government — $22 million of which is earmarked for upgrades to CBH sites in WA.

The $22 million pre-State Budget announcement will be used to extend rail sidings at CBH’s Moora, Brookton, Cranbrook and Broomehill receival sites to allow more wagons to fill with grain before heading to ports.

CBH and its 3900 grower members would also contribute $80 million to build rapid rail loading infrastructure at the four sites to speed up how grain can be loaded into trains.

The $160 million was included in a $10 billion national spend on infrastructure improvements included in the Federal Budget in May.

The money has been loosely committed to upgrading routes identified through the State Government’s Revitalising Agricultural Region Freight Strategy, which was released last year.

Dates and Times

Thursday, July 22: 12-2pm, Geraldton (Batavia Coast Conference Centre)

Monday, July 26: 11-1pm, Wagin (Eric Farrow Pavilion)

Monday, July 26: 5-7pm, Merredin (Merredin Community and Leisure Centre)

Tuesday, July 27: 12-2pm, Dalwallinu (Dalwallinu Recreation Centre)

Tuesday, July 27: 5-7pm, Northam (Bridgeley Community Centre)

Thursday, July 29: 12-2pm, Albany (Master Builders WA, Albany)

Tuesday, August 3: 12-2pm, Esperance (Noel White Pavilion)

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