With the Federal election just a fortnight away, rail workers and the Port Lincoln community are calling on Member for Grey Rowan Ramsay MP to step and save the Eyre Peninsula Grain line before it’s too late.
Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) SA/NT Secretary Darren Phillips today said that without urgent intervention the rail line would be shut down forever. In addition to job losses, there will be significantly more trucks on local roads.
"The line's private operator is closing down the rail service due to Viterra announcing that all grain freight will be moved by trucks only from 31 May 2019," Mr Phillips said.
"This will result in the immediate loss of at least 50 jobs, and potentially many more.
"It will take 40 to 50 one-way truck movements to replace one train. It will also see 64,000 60-tonne trucks barreling through Port Lincoln every year - which will have a disastrous impact on road safety.
"More trucks will also lead to more noise and more pollution for local residents."
Mr Phillips said the operators of the network had been put in a catch-22 situation.
"Around 85 per cent of the Peninsula railway is on speed restrictions, including some sections that are 20km/h and 30km/h. This has a significant impact of the efficiency of operations and the viability of services."
"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.
"That's why the Eyre Peninsula community needs urgent action from Government to step in and make sure the standard of the rail infrastructure is up to scratch."
Mr Phillips said it had been estimated that between $60 million and $110 million was needed to repair the Eyre Peninsula Railway which would improve running times.
"The Eyre Peninsula Railway is a crucial piece of infrastructure for South Australia's grain growing industry.
"The Eyre Peninsula region proudly boast annual harvests of up to over 2.5 million tonnes of wheat alone.
"Up to two million tonnes is exported via the Port Lincoln shipping terminal, and the bulk of this has been delivered by train."
Mr Phillips said the RTBU had been campaigning in and around Port Lincoln to save the railway, distributing flyers and collecting signatures on a community petition.
"We are encouraging the Port Lincoln community to take action by calling on the Member of Grey to secure funding for the Eyre Peninsula Railway.
"We've been getting amazing feedback from local residents and businesses. There is absolutely no doubt that the local community is right behind the railway, and wants to see it saved."
The RTBU transport policy blueprint, The Fork in the Road, can be accessed here.