A visit to York and Quairading by three Liberal politicians last month brought home to them issues relating to closure of the Tier 3 York-Quairading and the condition of major roads in the area.

Member of the Legislative Assembly for Morley, Ian Britza,  member for Eyre, Dr Graham Jacobs and member for Southern River, Peter Abetz accepted an invitation from the Wheatbelt Railway Retention Alliance and were accompanied by co-ordinator, Jane Fuchsbichler, on a trip along major roads used to transport grain in the area.

The parliamentarians said that not being from the area the only way they could have meaningful input in the party room was to see the situation first hand. It was obvious to them that bitumen strips use to widen the York-Quairading Road were inadequate and some were already damaged by grain and other heavy trucks, Mrs Fuchsbichler said.

During the trip they visited grain handling facilities at York and Quairading,  inspected the narrow traffic bridge across Bland Brook, railway bridge across the Avon River at Cold Harbour and rode in grain trucks on sections of the York-Quairading Road. They also met with representatives of the York and Quairading Shires.

Efforts to keep Tier 3 lines open for grain transport are currently awaiting outcomes of two enquiries. The first by the Economic Regulation Authority of WA concerning a dispute between CBH and Brookfield Rail concerning access fees and use of railway lines.  

A second by the State Government  Economics and Industry Standing Committee, is looking into recent strategic directions and policy decisions relating to the current network lease, particularly those relating to low-traffic lines, the regulatory arrangements in place for the network and the management of the network by the Public Transport Authority.

The WRRA is also waiting to see if there is a change in approach to the issues surrounding the future of the Tier 3 lines  by new Minister for Transport, Dean Nalder, and what if any provision there is for the grain rail network in the state budget on May 8.

Mrs Fuchsbichler said people living in the area served by the Merredin-Bruce Rock railway line were relieved to see grain trains running again after the summer heat restrictions imposed by Brookfield. "If CBH can continue moving 4,000 tonnes of grain a day into Merredin on Tier 3, it will save around 145 truck movements a day," she said.

Lindsay McNeill

TOP: Liberal members of the WA Legislative Assembly (L-R) Peter Abetz, Dr Graham Jacobs and Ian Britza at the Bland Brook bridge.

BELOW: Inspecting part of Great Southern Highway in Blandstown badly damaged by heavy trucks (L-R) Peter Abetz, Dr Graham Jacobs, Jane Fuchsbichler and Ian Britza at the Bland Brook bridge.