Loads off our roads
RAINBOW'S GrainCorp site was a flurry of excitement recently as the first grain train was filled and farewelled, ther train, to be the first to use the renewed line, signals an end to the damaging grain trucks using the roads.
Parliamentary Secretary for Transport Edward O’Donohue, who represented Minister for Public Transport Terry Mulder at the opening of the line was joined by Parliamentary Secretary for Regional and Rural Development Damian Drum, who represented Deputy Premier Peter Ryan, and a number of Hindmarsh and Yarriambiack Shire Councillors, GrainCorp workers and residents.
Mr O'Donohue said State Government’s reopening of the Dimboola to Rainbow line with the first grain train meant that up to 100,000 extra tonnes of Victorian grain would move by rail annually, with each train taking 50 B-Doubles off the road.
“It was exciting to watch the first Pacific National grain train depart,” he said, “Rail is safer, more efficient and more environmentally sustainable than trucks.”
“Under the previous government, the line faced closure. State Government has worked through the Department of Transport, V/Line and Regional Development Victoria to partner with GrainCorp.”
“Our objectives have been to lower grain growers’ costs, take heavy trucks off roads not built for them, and show what can be achieved when State Government and the private sector work together.” Mr O'Donohue said.
“V/Line’s works have seen the reopening of 66 kilometres of track from Dimboola to Rainbow,” he said.
“This was challenging because parts of the line were hit hard by flooding and the Rainbow line’s condition had deteriorated in the last few years. V/Line’s rejuvenation allows regular grain trains to operate.”
GrainCorp group general manager storage and logistics Nigel Hart said it was wonderful to see grain trains running between Rainbow and Dimboola again.
“This project is a wonderful example of how a positive partnership between government and business can deliver outcomes that benefit both the community and the broader state economy,” he said.
The $8.3 million Yaapeet line grain development project was a collaborative effort, in which GrainCorp invested $3 million, with $1 million going towards track work and $2 million to upgrade grain receival facilities at Rainbow to a “super site”.
State Government also invested $5.3 million, $3.6 million from the Department of Transport and $1.7 million from Regional Development Victoria, to make a total cost of $6.3 million to upgrade the track to “Silver Line” status.
“This significant upgrade will increase efficiency by enabling a faster turnaround for trucks bringing grain from regional farms and more efficient loading of grain trains,” Mr O'Donohue said.
“Apart from Rainbow, grain trains will also be able to load at Jeparit and Antwerp,” he said.
Mr Hart said grain trains would help to substantially reduce truck movements on local roads, improving safety and reducing the cost of road maintenance and repair.
Victorian Farmers Federation vice president and Farm Business Regional Development chair Peter Tuohey also congratulated State Government and GrainCorp for their collective investment.
“Rail is the most cost-effective way to move grain to port, so reopening the Rainbow line should translate to lower transport costs for producers in the area,” he said.
“It will also benefit the community, clear evidence that rail investment is good for government, industry and community.”
The Dimboola to Rainbow line rejuvenation replaced 33,000 sleepers, distributed 20,000 tonnes of ballast, included substantial flood damage rectification, the repair of sidings at Antwerp, Jeparit and Rainbow and the reconditioning of three level crossings.
Other improvements include the upgrading of the line to silver status allowing trains to travel at higher speeds and axle loads, the sealing of pavement areas at Rainbow, increased bunker storage at Bow Hill to reduce the impact on neighbours, additional grain receival capacity for faster turnaround at harvest and higher volume rail out-load.
Mr Drum said the reopened Rainbow line contributed to State Government’s vision for regional development.
“In the last two years Victoria has experienced record grain volumes with a total grain task of 7.1 million tonnes in 2010-11, and 6.2 million tonnes in 2011-12,” he said.
“This has increased pressure on the grain supply chain, particularly for exports from the state’s north and west. It is now more important than ever to invest in modern infrastructure.”
“Rail is an efficient way of moving grain and a vital part of the Victorian economy. Investing in our rail infrastructure is an investment for country Victoria and for the future.”
Mr Hart said GrainCorp acknowledged Sate Government's commitment to rail and the fact they are prepared to back this commitment with funds for other important regional projects.
“Working with Government on this project has been a positive experience. We believe the partnership model works well and could potentially be used in other areas of Victoria, with similar benefits to those regions,” he said.