Extra truck movements can be expected during this year’s harvest season as Brookfield Rail announces the closure of two grain freight lines along the Wheatbelt.
The company said the closure of the York to Quairading and Merredin to Trayning lines was due to safety concerns, with a major derailment on the York to Quairading line last month and a lack of State Government funding were key factors in the decision.
Brookfield Rail chief executive Paul Larsen said the safe and sustainable operation of the lines cannot be maintained past the end of October, The West Australian reported.
"This is not a decision we have taken lightly, but in the absence of substantial investment from government to support a longer-term operation, Brookfield Rail is not satisfied the safe and sustainable operation of these two lines can be maintained past October 31," Larsen said.
"We are not doing this for politics. We are doing this because I have an obligation to run a safe business."
The future of the four remaining grain freight lines is still being discussed between Brookfield and CBH.
Brookfield has estimated it would cost $90 million to re-sleeper the ageing network.
Larsen said he was confident an agreement with CBH can be reached that would ensure the lines remained opened.
Asked who would pay for the repairs, Larsen said:
"Ultimately the farmer pays for it because we will pay for it, but then we will need to recover that cost from CBH and CBH will recover it from farmers."
Wheatbelt Rail Retention Alliance co-ordinator Jane Fuchsbichler has accused the West Australian government of neglecting the industry.
"It is a huge road safety issue not just for rural people but anyone travelling on these roads," she said.
"It also impacts on grain growers and one of the biggest export industries for this State."
Transport Minister Troy Buswell said it was up to Brookfield and CBH to reach an agreement about the rail lines.