Press Release

Tier 3 Railways Need to be Economically Viable



Commenting on an announcement that the State Government was going to commission an engineering assessment on the cost of reinstating these lines, Chairman of the PGA Western Graingrowers Committee Mr Gary McGill said that grain movements to port needed to be by the least-cost pathway.

“This could be road, or it could be rail, but any Tier 3 assessment needs to be done for authentic reasons, and not for political purposes.  Preconceived ideas of what may work best need to be tested and validated”.    

Whilst he welcomed an independent assessment, the PGA were major participants in the old Grain Infrastructure Group and its successor, the Strategic Grain Network Review Committee, and should be involved in any decision that could result in Tier 3 railway lines being recommissioned.

Mr McGill noted that over 10 years ago, the Strategic Grain Network Review had found that Tier 3 railway lines were unviable, and unless the freight task increased dramatically they were going to remain unviable.  He said railways are by nature expensive to build, operate safely, and maintain, and they need to generate sufficient revenue to cover its costs.

Mr McGill said “Tier 3 didn’t mean third rate or third class, it was an economic grouping of unviable railway lines”.

With any recommissioning efforts likely to cost hundreds of millions of dollars, Mr McGill said motherhood statements like ‘grain on rail’ wasn’t sufficient justification for an expenditure of this magnitude.  “It is vitally important that taxpayers’ money is not expended to satisfy narrow interest groups with a nostalgic romance for the rail.  Rigour, not rabble rousing, is required”. 

Consequently it is vital that any assessment considers the economics, and not just the engineering aspects of the Tier 3 railway lines.

Whilst he acknowledged that the State Government owned the Tier 3 railways, it had an obligation to respect the commercial rights of the lessee to operate the lines and make a reasonable rate of return on its investment.



Issued by PGA of WA



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