State Government will have blood on its hands over handling of key transport study: SA-BEST warns

10 April 2019

The State Government will have blood on its hands over its failure to act on the recommendations of a major report into the future freight transport needs on Eyre Peninsula.

SA-BEST MLC and Transport and Infrastructure spokesperson, Frank Pangallo, said today the government’s decision not to maintain the region’s existing rail network will lead to a 400% per cent increase in the number of truck movements from 10,000 a year to 40,000 a year.

“The State Government should hang its head in shame,” Frank said.

“The massive increase in heavy vehicle traffic on the Eyre Peninsula as a direct result of the government’s inaction will lead to many more serious accidents – probably deaths - on the region’s roads,” he said.

“Heavy vehicles are responsible for about 20 per cent of all road fatalities on the Eyre Peninsula.

“It’s an appalling scenario and SA-BEST is seeking an urgent briefing from Minister Knoll on how it reached its decision.

“With the rail network being shut down, more heavy vehicles will be forced onto roads which haven’t been designed or maintained to take the significant increase in traffic and/or are also falling apart.

“It’s a recipe for disaster! No government would want avoidable tragedies on its conscience.”

The future of the Eyre Peninsula rail network has been under a cloud for a number of years due to the investment needed to upgrade it to keep its transport costs competitive to road transport.

That uncertainty led the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure and rail infrastructure operators, Genesee & Wyoming Australia, to commission the Eyre Peninsula Freight Strategy in 2017 to investigate the region’s future freight transport infrastructure needs.

The delayed release of the report comes just over a month after multi-national grain handling group, Viterra, announced it will move to road-based transport.

“For reasons only known to itself – and I suspect it’s all to do with the money required to bring the network up to speed - the State Government has completely ignored the main recommendations of the report to maintain the rail network,” Frank said.

“The report recommends keeping some rail to preserve the amenity in Port Lincoln - as well as safety and environmental considerations which will also avoid significant road upgrade and ongoing maintenance costs - is essential,” he said.

“Maintaining rail retains competition in the freight market which mitigates the risk of cost increases that can be imposed when the rail network is closed and there are no other options – increased costs that will be passed along the supply chain. 

“The report reveals that the plan to shift grain transport from rail to solely road is the worst of all outcomes.

“Why are we abandoning rail when the rest of the country is embracing it?

“The people of the Eyre Peninsula have been completely snubbed by this government. I hope they send a clear and powerful message at the ballot box at the impending federal election.

“SA-BEST and our Centre Alliance candidate for Grey, Andrea Broadfoot, will continue to fight hard for the region unlike current MP, Rowan Ramsey.

“There needs to be a commitment of the amount of funds and support needed to save both the rail line and upgrade the roads.

“I’m calling on the Premier and the Treasurer to show they care for regional South Australians, who are also having to endure a shocking lack of health, ageing and mental health services.

“Do something!”

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