Flooded track re­opened

Great Southern Herald - - News - Cally Dupe

Re­open­ing a tem­po­rar­ily closed rail line will save grow­ers mil­lions of dol­lars and pre­vent up to 5000 truck move­ments on lo­cal roads, farm­ers say.

Arc In­fra­struc­ture, for­merly Brook­field Rail, re­cently an­nounced it would re­open the Lake Grace-Newde­gate Line be­fore har­vest.

The 50km track has been closed since Fe­bru­ary af­ter the sur­round­ing Lake Biddy flooded and dam­aged the line.

Bob If­fla farms sheep and grain east of Newde­gate, near Lake King, and said re­open­ing the line had the po­ten­tial to save mil­lions of dol­lars.

He said lo­cal grow­ers feared they would bear the the cost of truck­ing large vol­umes of grain, cur­rently stored at Newde­gate.

The site is CBH’s sixth-big­gest stor­age fa­cil­ity in WA.

More than 230,000 tonnes was de­liv­ered to the bin last year.

“There is about 200,000 tonnes of grain which needs to be moved be­fore this har­vest,” Mr If­fla said.

“It would add an ex­tra cost, which has to be picked up by some­one.

“It is money which could be go­ing into farm­ers’ rev­enue.”

Arc is­sued a let­ter to lo­cal grow­ers ear­lier this month which said it had de­vel­oped a long-term solution to ad­dress flood­ing of the rail net­work in the area. Arc as­set man­age­ment and pro­jects gen­eral man­ager Paul Lowney said work to re­pair the line would start in com­ing weeks.

The track will be lifted and re­built up to a me­tre higher than its pre­vi­ous level.

“There was never any doubt that we were go­ing to re­open the Newde­gate line,” Mr Lowney said.

“How­ever, we wanted to find a solution that would be longterm and able to with­stand any fur­ther freak flood­ing that might oc­cur.

“We’re cur­rently in the de­sign phase, and while we haven’t got a kick-off date for works yet, this is ex­pected to hap­pen in the next few weeks.”

Ash­ley Mac­Don­ald farms near Lake Biddy and said mov­ing grain from last year’s bumper har­vest by truck would be prob­lem­atic.

“The bot­tom line is that this lake is not go­ing any­where,” he said. “Hav­ing to have 5000 truck move­ments back and for­ward along the Newde­gateLake Grace Road is a ter­ri­ble solution.”

Grow­ers from the area met with Arc In­fra­struc­ture on Tues­day to tour the flood­af­fected por­tion of the line.

CBH would not re­veal how much grain was stored at the Newde­gate site.

How­ever, it said Newde­gate was the 15th-big­gest re­ceival site in WA, ex­clud­ing ports and de­pots, and the big­gest in the area.

Pic­ture: Fanny McDon­ald

Newde­gate farm­ers tour the flooded por­tion of the line.

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