There has been a lot of talk around the Greater Bunbury Regional Area in the South West Western Australia advocating the reintroduction of the abandoned Picton to Capel via Boyanup railway line up to a serviceable standard along with the reintroduction of the abandoned Picton to Manjimup line, so as Woodchip trains can once again run.
The Western Australian Pulp and Mill company down near Manjimup prefer to have the woodchips transported by road, as it is lot cheaper that rail transport. Rail transport of Woodchips was ended in ????? because of the belief that the Picton to Manjimup line needed doing up, but this was just an excuse to use road transport, and the Picton to Manjimup has since fallen into disrepair.
Iluka Mineral Sands South West operations are located at Waroona, Wagerup and Capel in Western Australia. Heavy mineral concentrate (HMC) from these mine sites is trucked to Capel for processing, and finished product is trucked 35km from Capel to the Port of Bunbury, where it is exported.
Mineral Sands arrive at the Port by road to storage adjacent to BERTH 8 and BERTH 1 from where it is loaded. There is also a mineral sands mine at Beenup some (17 km north east of Augusta in the south west of Western Australia, and there is no railway line there, so road trucks are a necessity to cart the mineral sands to Bunbury.
A majority of mineral sands are trucked to the Bunbury Inner Harbour and exported and since August 2013, there have been some 20 ships berthed at either Berth 8 or Berth 1 taking on some 242,916 tonnes of Mineral sands. A Bunbury Port Authority spokesperson confirmed that there is no rail line near or adjacent either Berth 8 or 1, and the nearest rail line to the Inner Harbour has not been used for more than 20 years.
Neither the Liberal party nor the Labor party wants anything to do with rail freight, that’s why rail freight has been privatized.
There are still some community members in the South West who advocate doing the abandoned Picton to Capel via Boyanup railway line up to a serviceable standard however on the contrary look at the millions of dollars saved by not doing the railway lines up, contributing towards better facilities such as better roads, schools, hospitals, police, fire and other emergency services.
Sand trains need two crew members between Picton and Capel, as the sand trains have to run around at the Mineral sand terminus, and the driver cannot be expected to shunt and leave the locomotive and the train idle.
Train order working is a dangerous safe working practice; hence the reason CTC (Centralized Traffic Control) signals are a much better option.
Overall 93 per of the road traffic traveling along Bussell highway are cars, while 3 per cent of the traffic are semi-trailers carrying general freight, 3 per cent are pine laden or empty trucks and mineral sands is a mere 1 per cent of the road traffic.
Trucks of any significant dimension actually run on Bussell Highway in either direction at about 1 every 40 minutes, during peak hour traffic, and about 1 an hour up to 7pm, then 1 every 4 hours until 3am, not every 5 – 10 minutes as some members of the local community assume.
To state that the heavy vehicle i.e. trucks trundle along Bussell highway every 5-10 minutes is an over exaggeration and without any foundation or research into the matter.
So a mineral sands train would be just running empty to the Capel Mineral sands siding and returning empty, therefore mineral sand trains are not needed whatsoever, and trucking companies can cart mineral sands far cheaper than rail can.
The reason why Tasmania is upgrading its rolling stock and revitalizing its tracks is because they are so old, and Tasrail currently hauls 25 per cent of the State’s overall freight.
because of the fall in the price of Mineral Sands the revitalization of the Picton Capel via Boyanup Rail line to haul mineral sands freight demand does not warrant the cost of the Picton to Capel via Boyanup rail line being revitalized.
Every culvert, every sleeper and bent rail from heat and every bridge needs to be replaced or assessed as safe, before any train of any axle load traverses the Picton to Capel via Boyanup line.
Trucking companies can get freight around the State much faster than the railway, and most State Governments all over Australia have favoured road transport for several years, requiring a significant amount of money being spent on roads and very little for railways, especially in Tasmania and Western Australia.
Iluka Mineral sands in Western Australia have made some 200 staff redundant with just over another 45 more jobs to go as well in the near future, which will have a huge effect not just with those made redundant with Iluka, but trucking companies will have to let go of superfluous drivers as well.