Rail future still in doubt

WATCH OUT: Lorraine and Barry Murnane are concerned about the number of trucks which could run through Cummins and Port Lincoln if the railway line is closed.
WATCH OUT: Lorraine and Barry Murnane are concerned about the number of trucks which could run through Cummins and Port Lincoln if the railway line is closed.

A former farmer and truck driver has raised concerns about the number of trucks which will travel through town and city centres on the Eyre Peninsula if rail network contractual negotiations fail.

Cummins resident Barry Murnane said he was “gravely concerned” about the possible rail line closure which would mean thousands of more trucks carrying grain on the region’s roads.

Mr Murnane said an average year would mean more than 11,000 extra loads travelling up and down the Tod, Lincoln and Flinders highways in a single year.

Grain company Viterra and rail operators Genesee and Wyoming have a contract in place for grain to be moved along the Eyre Peninsula rail network until March 2019. 

“Can the highway stretching all the way from Wudinna through Kyancutta, Warramboo, Lock, Murdinga, Tooligie, Karkoo, Yeelanna, Cummins, Edillilie and Wanilla stand up to this constant punishment and will the government be willing to dish out the cash for the constant repairs?” Mr Murnane said.

“The Cummins facility alone can store 420,000 tonnes of grain, which can be filled on a good year – this equates to 6400 road train movements per year just from Cummins let alone up to an extra 2000 full loads from sites situated further north.”

The rail, tram and bus union (RTBU) has also raised concerns about the rail’s future and called for the Marshall State Government to “urgently repair” and upgrade the Eyre Peninsula railway before the line “falls apart.”

The state’s union secretary Darren Phillips said rail workers were becoming concerned about the rail infrastructure’s state on the Eyre Peninsula.

“If the service is not making enough money they can’t invest in the necessary maintenance – and if they don’t maintain the tracks to standard, then the services can’t make a decent profit,” he said.

“The risk for South Australia is that the operator will simply walk away and close down the line.”

A Department of Transport, Planning on Infrastructure study on the future of Eyre Peninsula rail networks was set to be released in the second quarter of this year however has not yet been released and has no expected release date.

A GWA spokesperson said the company was working with Viterra and the State Government to explore the options for continuation of rail on the Eyre Peninsula.