Kemerton rail line is critical, says Cr Cook

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times
Campaign ramped up to get trucks off the road and onto rail as Albemarle gains momentum.
Camera IconCampaign ramped up to get trucks off the road and onto rail as Albemarle gains momentum. Credit: Graphic / South Western Times

A Bunbury city councillor says it is “critical” for public safety that a railway between Kemerton and Greenbushes becomes a reality.

In an apolitical attempt to “realise some common sense”, outgoing Cr Murray Cook is ramping up his campaign to get trucks off the road and onto rail as Albemarle gains momentum.

Cr Cook says while it is a complicated and costly issue, the solution could be a partnership between the State and Federal governments, Talison and Albemarle.

“Do the people about to make money fund it or does the government for the community benefit and road safety do it?” Cr Cook said.

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“In the overall scheme of things and for the public benefit, it is not a lot of money.”

The government is mulling the idea of rail to carry the increased volumes of lithium concentrate flowing from Greenbushes to Kemerton, Bunbury and Kwinana.

But Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan said while rail looked to be a competitive option, it needed significant investment.

“The State Government has been working with Arc Infrastructure and Talison Lithium to investigate the viability of a rail-based supply chain solution to support the South West lithium boom,” Ms MacTiernan said.

“A pre-feasibility study has been carried out and further work is being undertaken to refine this study.

“The results from the pre-feasibility study indicate that rail as a transport solution for freight from Greenbushes to Kemerton could be competitive with road.

“However, there are significant capital investments required across the entire supply chain.

“The State Government will continue to work closely with Talison and Arc to progress the concept.”

Cr Cook said he hoped Albemarle would agree to chip in “a few million” and the State and Federal governments would fund the remainder.

“It is critical, in my view, that we get the trucks off our roads,both spodumene and timber – for public safety and to save wear and tear on our regional roads,” he said.

Mayor Gary Brennan said his preference was the expansion of Bussell Highway into a dual carriageway and then looking at upgrading rail between Greenbushes and Kemerton.

“I know it’s a very costly exercise, it’s a major infrastructure investment and I’m aware the Federal and State governments need to make some priority decisions on infrastructure within the South West,” Mr Brennan said.

“We do need to get as much bulk material off the road onto rail, however I think from my understanding the dualing of Bussell Highway ... that’s probably higher priority from a road safety point of view.”

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