Co-operative Bulk Handling and its rail operator Watco have gone a long way to prove the value of rail transport by shifting record tonnages of grain from this season's bumper harvest.

One reason continually given by the state government for not upgrading and keeping open the Tier 3 rail network in the Wheatbelt is that CBH would not guarantee to use rail to transport grain to port.

CBH general manager of operations, David Capper, said , "This November we moved 12% more grain by rail than ever before. "Kwinana terminal also broke its record for the month, unloading 585,643 tonnes delivered by rail. "This surpassed the previous record of 425,463 tonnes achieved in November 2004," he said.

"Having received more than 12.5million tonnes into storage, the co-operative has transported the largest amount ever moved in the month of November. "The partnership with Watco and our new rolling stock has dramatically improved our efficiency. "It's great to see our above rail investments providing benefits for growers," he said.

There is still no progress in the discussions between CBH and Brookfield concerning
an acceptable commercial arrangement to replace the rail access agreement which expires in June this year. In a statement last October, Mr Capper said  a lack of progress in discussions concerning access to the rail network had led CBH to seek an agreement under the Railways Access Code and asked the Economic Regulation Authority (ERA) to join its negotiations with Brookfield Rail. To date there has been no announcement concerning progress on this matter.

The closure of the York-Quairading and Trayning-Merredin Tier 3 railway lines by Brookfield  on October 31 and a record harvest have added to the need for action to keep the Tier 3 network open. Failure of the government to act has caused widespread outcry from community and farming leaders.

Member for the Central Wheatbelt, Mia Davies MLA, has maintained the government and the Nationals' response that CBH would not use the railway lines even if money was spent on them. Many people in the central wheatbelt feel let down first by Mr Grylls and now Ms Davies' failure to show leadership regarding the Tier 3 lines and roads in the region.

In a recent edition of the Merredin Wheatbelt Mercury, president of Quairading Shire, Daryl Richards and Stephen Strange from Bruce Rock said there would be fatalities on roads if the state government did not intervene and guarantee the future of the Tier 3 lines. "The simple fact is that the majority of country roads are not up to scratch," Mr Richards said.

Lindsay McNeill

ABOVE: One of the last trains on the York - Quairading Tier 3 line before it was closed on October 31.