Rail Agreement Keeps Pressure on Roads Tuesday, November 05, 2019
An urgent overhaul is needed of road funding support for Wheatbelt communities following a decision not to expand rail services for grain transport.
 
The WA Local Government Association had hoped for more grain to be transported by rail to take the pressure off local roads and the unsustainable maintenance costs on Councils.  
 
However an agreement between Arc Infrastructure and CBH has confirmed there will be no increase in grain freight transport by rail at least until 2026.
 
WALGA President Cr Lynne Craigie said the decision was disappointing as rail is the safest, fastest and lowest cost method of transporting grain to port.
 
“On one hand there is relief that rail services were not reduced however overwhelmingly Councils in the grain growing areas of the State would have preferred an expansion of services,” Cr Craigie said.
 
“Continuing to transport large volumes of grain by road obviously poses a safety risk to regional communities simply due to the increased volume of large vehicles on country roads.
 
“Critically those risks are exacerbated by the damage caused by the vehicles to the roads and the pressure on Local Governments to keep up required maintenance.”
 
Cr Craigie said heavy vehicle operators already paid significant registration fees and fuel exercise to operate their vehicles but more of that tax take needed to be returned to local communities.
 
“The WA motoring public contributed nearly $3 billion to the Commonwealth last year but only 45 per cent was returned to State and Local Governments to upgrade and maintain roads,” she said.
 
“Similarly while the State Government collected almost $1 billion in vehicle licence fees last year, less than a quarter was allocated to Local Government which is responsible for more than 80 per cent of the roads.
 
“The decision by Arc and CBH has highlighted the urgent need for an overhaul of funding for roads used by heavy vehicles and that it is critical that industry and all spheres of government work together to develop a solution.”