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UNCERTAINLY surrounding the future of the Mallee railway network in 2015 continues to gain momentum, following a Grain Producers SA meeting at Parilla on Thursday last week.
GPSA policy officer Tim Burrow and vice-chair Wade Dabinett facilitated the meeting, which not only looked at the issue of the local rail system, but also featured presentations on work safety, wheat classifications and from local grain storage operator GrainFlow.
Railway owner Genesee & Wyoming Australia and railway customer Viterra were invited to the meeting, but did not attend.
Mr Dabinett, a Parilla cropper, attended a grain industry freight and logistics forum at Parliament House on Tuesday last week, which included representatives from Viterra, GWA, the state government and industry, where the state of the Mallee railway network was discussed.
"I got the feeling that because of dwindling tonnages, tough track conditions, and the battle to compete with road prices, the future of the Mallee railway line was in doubt," he said.
Mr Dabinett said GPSA was seeking figures on what it would take to keep the Mallee lines open for grain freight, including tonnages needed, and what would happen if the line were to close.
They were also continuing to call for the Essential Services Commission of SA to independently look into the supply chain, as per the recommendations from the SA Parliamentary Select Committee investigation into the grain handling industry.
Member for Chaffey Tim Whetstone was also at the Parilla meeting.
He met with Viterra on Tuesday to address the issues raised at the GPSA meeting and find out if Viterra planned to sign a new rail agreement with GWA in 2015, given the agreement in place expires on July 31.
"They are maintaining they signed a 12-month rail agreement in August last year and won't be making any further announcements until that expires," he said.
"We need to start thinking outside the square in case Viterra doesn't sign a new agreement for the 2015 harvest or the rail line closes."
This article first appeared on www.stockjournal.com.au
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