Transport Minister Eric Charlton today announced the first step towards progressively opening the State's rail freight network to competition.
The Minister has approved access arrangements for interstate operators to use the standard gauge line between Kalgoorlie and Kwinana, the initial step towards allowing expanded competition on the State's rail system.
"Arrangements covering other parts of the State network should be in place by the middle of the year following consideration by the National Competition Council," Mr Charlton said.
"The opening up of the Kalgoorlie-Kwinana line is the first stage of genuine rail access reform and will help achieve the State Government's aim of ensuring WA has the most efficient and effective land freight transport system in the nation," he said.
Mr Charlton said the new rail access regime set out the processes to be followed and the rights and obligations of the parties as they negotiated with Westrail, the track owner.
National Rail, Toll Rail, Specialized Container Transport and Great Southern Railway had already used the interstate line under individual arrangements with Westrail.
"Western Australia has been leading the way in rail reform but it is time to remove the remaining barriers preventing other operators competing on the Westrail network," the Minister said.
"When the Coalition Government deregulated road transport the intense competition had a flow-on effect on rail and brought about great improvement in rail efficiency."
Mr Charlton said the State had been the beneficiary of lower costs, with grain freight rates dropping in some cases by more than 50 per cent.
Westrail had also achieved a $42.5 million operating profit last year easing the burden on the WA taxpayer.
"With Westrail now in a strong position to meet any challenges it is time for on-rail competition to be extended to intra-state operations," the Minister said.
"Westrail is currently the sole provider of intra-state rail services and by opening up the network to outsiders the community will be given a choice and stand to benefit enhanced freight services across the board," he said.
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