Western Australia’s regional freight task from the Wheatbelt Region relies heavily on road, rail and port infrastructure, but these assets are aging and imposing high costs on supply chains. These issues impact on the Wheatbelt, Great Southern, Mid West and Goldﬁelds-Esperance regions.
Agriculture is a signiﬁcant industry for Western Australia. In 2018–19, the gross value of agricultural production in the state was $10.7 billion, which represents 18% of the total gross value of agricultural production in Australia and three percent of Western Australia’s Gross State Product.
Western Australia’s regional freight network faces a number of challenges, including:
• a growing and changing freight task
• ageing and under-performing road and rail infrastructure, including poor surface condition and road width
• consolidation of grain receival facilities
• increasing use of larger vehicles, but insufficient road mass limits
• pressure to increase supply chain productivity
• poor road safety outcomes.
Freight transport bottlenecks and a lack of capacity along key agricultural rail and road freight routes limit export volumes during periods of the year for Western Australian growers where prices received would be at their highest.
Potential options to address the initiative include a program of works to assess and prioritise sections of the Wheatbelt, Great Southern, Mid West and Goldﬁelds-Esperance regions. Potential improvements include:
• addressing maintenance backlogs or implementing pre-emptive maintenance
• partial road and rail upgrades, such as cross-section improvements
• full road upgrades, including geometric corrections
• provision of new road and rail routes.
The Western Australian Government has developed a WA Agricultural Supply Chain Improvement Strategy to improve regional freight infrastructure across these regions.
This initiative captures the previous Priority Initiative for Wheatbelt Secondary Freight Network improvements, which was submitted to Infrastructure Australia by RDA Wheatbelt. The Wheatbelt Secondary Freight Network connects producers to the network of grain receival points, rail terminals and state highways across approximately 4,675 km of roads.
Proponent to identify initiatives and develop options (Stage 2 of Infrastructure Australia’s Assessment Framework).