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Western Australia’s key agricultural areas will receive a funding boost for freight infrastructure, following a joint Commonwealth and State funding commitment of $200 million for the first package of the Agricultural Supply Chain Improvement (ASCI) program.
On the back of a record 24 million tonne harvest, worth around $8 billion to WA’s economy, the McGowan Government is committed to ensuring freight infrastructure keeps up with growing demand.
The four projects funded under the first ASCI package will help WA grain growers and other primary producers transport their product to markets – in Australia and around the world.
The projects to be funded have been determined in close consultation with CBH, rail network manager Arc Infrastructure, grower groups and local government.
The $200 million package will go towards the following four project areas. This government funding will leverage millions in private sector investment for the region:
The siding upgrades are to be complemented by at least $200 million of investment in rapid loading bins and elevators by CBH.
The Wickepin kaolin clay project.
For CBH and the grain growing industry, these works will further assist the effort to move grain rapidly to port after harvest, to capitalise on strong international demand and high prices. Loading longer trains more quickly at the strategically located CBH bins will bring tangible financial returns to growers in the region.
The $72 million Southern Wheatbelt project will increase the amount of grain moved by rail and decrease the number of trucks on regional roads. Equally important, it will provide the capacity for other primary producers, for example hay exporters, to use a rail service.
The new WA Kaolin clay mine, near Wickepin, will also benefit from a potential rail freight service, as its export production ramps up in coming years.
Securing this funding means the planning and design phase can now commence, with completion of the projects expected in 2025.
The State and Commonwealth have already partnered to deliver $187.5 million in funding for the Wheatbelt Secondary Freight Network program. A further $36 million in joint funding will commence the Mid-West and Great Southern Secondary Freight Network programs to further improve export connections throughout the agricultural regions.
Transport Minister Rita Saffioti the Government was already spending a record amount on regional roads and is now able to prioritise further investment on the regional freight rail network.
“This $200 million will ensure our regional freight network continues to keep up with demand now and into the future,” she said.
“The recent record harvest of 24 million tonnes shows that we need to continue to invest in road and rail to provide an increasingly efficient transport network.
“The ASCI rail project funding, closely aligned with CBH’s train loading investments, will deliver freight cost savings and grain price benefits each year to grain growers throughout the agricultural region.”
This article first appeared on www.railexpress.com.au
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