Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Call for Dookie rail fix

Dookie district grain growers are calling for freight trains to be returned to the Shepparton-Dookie line.

GEOFF ADAMS June 24, 2014 3:00am

Yabba North farmer Brian Harrington is a member of the new Dookie silo committee and is wondering what has happened to the rail service.

However, no freight trains have used the line for more than five years and it is falling into serious disrepair.

GrainCorp — which owns the grain silos, weighbridge and facilities — wants to spend money on upgrading the site, but also wants to use rail for export grain.

The company is offering growers $5/tonne incentive for grain shifted this way, which would amount to a seasonal bonus of thousands of dollars.

However V/Line, which manages the line, told Country News there would have to be a sufficient volume of export grain going through the silos to warrant the line re-opening.

Grain growers met at Dookie last week to form a new silo committee which is expected to lobby for the line to be reopened.

Farmers heard GrainCorp was planning to install a new weighbridge and 500tonne elevator.

Under GrainCorp’s $200million regeneration plan, Dookie has been nominated as a ‘primary’ site, which means it is expected to become a key rail export site.

These sites will have to accommodate 40 rail wagons which could be loaded within five hours.

GrainCorp area manager Paul White told growers while they wanted rail transport, GrainCorp would try to improve throughput and turnaround times.

Some growers complained about queues holding up their harvest at Dookie.

One grower remarked: ‘‘Why would V/Line spend money on this line when they can’t even get the line between Melbourne to Albury right?’’

He was referring to the passenger service delays caused by the poor track over more than a year.

A Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure Department spokesperson said most of the grain from the region was delivered by road to domestic markets, with only a small portion having the potential to go to the export market by rail.

‘‘For this reason, the 25km Dookie line was booked out of service in 2009 on account of insufficient traffic.’’

The department will review the line if there are significant changes in the grain industry.

‘‘The line is intact but would need some upgrades before it could be returned to service,’’ the spokesperson said.

The new silo committee includes: Ross Geddes, Allan Shields, Brian Harrington, Neil Lonie, David Cook, Phil Gall, Mark Harmer and Tony Moylan.

A spokesperson for V/Line said there had been no request to use the line in the past five years. They were unable to say how much would have to be spent to bring the line back into service.

Country News understands GrainCorp has begun talks with the transport department.

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