CBH has completed the first of 11 rail siding projects aiming to boost grain tonnage delivered to Western Australian ports.

An upgrade to the rail siding at Co-operative Bulk Handling’s grain receival site in Brookton WA is now operational, allowing longer trains to load grain more efficiently.

Brookton was the first of 11 rail siding upgrades to begin construction in February. It was originally expected to be completed towards the end of this year but has wrapped up ahead of schedule.

The project is funded through the first package of the state and Commonwealth governments’ $200 million Agricultural Supply Chain Improvements program.

The ASCI program focuses on targeted freight rail upgrades in the grain growing regions of Western Australia.

The new extended rail siding has reduced grain loading times for a 50-wagon train by around one hour, according to the WA government.

It has also reduced congestion on the main rail line, and improved safety with less manual handling for rail operators.

“The Brookton rail siding upgrade is already delivering savings and efficiencies for grain handling and loading at a time when new records continue to be set for grain production and export in Western Australia,” WA transport minister Rita Saffioti said.

“State government investment in the ASCI program means 10 more rail siding upgrades are in the pipeline and the combined effect will transform our capacity to safely and efficiently deliver greater volumes of WA grain products to our ports.”

CBH is also investing in the rail siding upgrades by designing and installing rapid rail loading facilities at all 11 sites.

Design for this infrastructure is underway, and the state government expects it to improve the efficiency of grain handling and loading.

“The completion of the Brookton rail siding works ahead of schedule has pushed forward freight efficiencies at this site, making it safer, easier and quicker to load longer trains, carrying more grain,” WA agriculture and food minister Jackie Jarvis said.

“I look forward to the continued roll-out of the other rail siding upgrades, which will help WA growers achieve the best premiums possible for their product by strengthening our supply chain efficiencies.”

A second rail siding upgrade that started in Broomehill in May this year would allow double the amount of grain to be loaded onto wagons in less than half the time it currently takes.

Construction on two more rail siding upgrades at Moora and Cranbrook CBH grain receival bins are expected to begin towards the end of the year.