THE speed restrictions placed on several of Victoria’s key wheat-carrying rail lines highlights the lack of investment in the state’s infrastructure. There is, no doubt, a similar lack of investment in other states.
It also indicates a lack of consultation between V/Line and the major users of the state’s regional rail lines. While V/Line points out it is investing heavily in the Murray Basin Rail Project, that would not be much comfort for grain handlers trying to get what looks set to be a record harvest to ports.
Grain handlers have indicated that the initial ban on movements when the temperature reached 33°C, later amended to train speeds being limited to 30kmh, had reduced the overall capacity of the network and delayed grain reaching export ports.
The restrictions also placed more trucks on regional roads which are already suffering from a lack of maintenance. One grain handler described the situation as “less than ideal” – a classic piece of understatement.
Farmers have also been angered by the speed limits and have urged the Victorian Government to spend more in rail infrastructure and described rail as still the best way of moving bulk commodities like grain.
One wonders if our major grain-exporting competitors like Canada and the United States have a similar lack of investment in rail. Somehow, we doubt it.
– TONY DUBOUDIN