Press Release

Rick_wilson_0409

RAIL THREAT QUESTIONED

2009-06-05

The Pastoralists and Graziers’ Association has questioned the motives of Westnet Rail over its latest threat to abandon 340kilometres of narrow gauge railway in WA.

 

“On Wednesday, Transport Minister Simon O’Brien held a meeting with over 20 industry stakeholders including grower groups, WestNet Rail, CBH, the Australian Grain Exporters Association and South Spur Rail Services resulting in the establishment of a Committee to assess the transport needs of the grain industry” PGA Grains Chairman Rick Wilson said today.

 

“A day later WestNet Rail is claiming that they will be closing lines if the State Government does not give them $50million!”

 

Mr Wilson said the PGA is confused over how investing $50million into re-sleepering the Northam to Albany narrow gauge line would prevent the closure of the four spur lines.

 

“WestNet Rail are not giving assurances that they will not close any lines if they are given the money from the Government.”

 

“WestNet Rail, which is currently up for sale by owners Babcock & Brown Infrastructure had previously recommended, as a member of the Grain Infrastructure Group, that shutting down these lines would save the company $44million in sleeper replacement costs.”

 

“They are asking the State Government to use tax payer funds for capital works, yet they are threatening to close lines which they have wanted to do since 2004.”

 

“Now their actions are starting to raise questions within the industry over how much capital works investment has been performed by WestNet Rail in the past six years.”

 

“WestNet Rail has an obligation to growers in Western Australia to maintain an efficient rail system.  Maybe it is time for them to open up their books to public scrutiny and show where the inefficiencies are in the system, before asking taxpayers to fund their business” he said.

 

“The PGA accepts the Government’s assurances that the rail network will remain open for the 2009/2010 harvest and that any WA taxpayer funds invested in the rail system will benefit the industry and not just the owners of WestNet Rail.”

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