WORK to drive further capacity into Western Australia’s farm-to-port grain supply chain is continuing with the letting of two new contracts.

Rail siding upgrades through the $200 million Agricultural Supply Chain Improvements (ASCI) Program, jointly funded by the state and federal governments, are extending to Cranbrook and Konnongorring with work to start in April.

ASCI will deliver supply chain efficiencies through rail freight infrastructure upgrades. Package 1 of the program includes $68 million to upgrade 11 rail sidings at CBH Group grain receival sites, with additional investment from CBH. The co-operative has awarded construction contracts for the two new projects to Laing O’Rourke (Cranbrook) and DT Infrastructure (Konnongorring).

Upgrades at the Cranbrook site include extending the length of the rail siding to allow 60-wagon trains to be loaded off the main line in four hours. CBH will also install a fixed rail loading facility at the site. The infrastructure upgrades are expected to increase the site’s monthly grain export capacity by 164,000 tonnes.

At the Konnongorring site, the rail siding upgrade and extension is expected to contribute to reducing loading times for a 52-wagon train from 14 hours to around four hours. The works will transform Konnongorring from being a predominantly road-based transport site to a rail and road site.

The Konnongorring upgrades are due to be finished by the end of the year and the Cranbrook project in the third quarter of 2025.

Brookton was the first of the ASCI rail siding projects to be completed in August last year. The project wrapped ahead of schedule, with the upgrades doubling the amount of grain loaded onto wagons in less than half the previous time, the WA Government said.

Work on upgrading the Broomehill site is entering its final stages and when complete, will also streamline grain handling and loading by cutting hours off loading times for larger wagon trains.

Transport minister Rita Saffioti said the Cranbrook and Konnongorring projects would have a transformative impact on grain export capacity and community amenity, “allowing hundreds of thousands more tonnes of grain to get to port and command the best prices for our growers, while taking more trucks off our roads.

“The completed Brookton rail siding upgrade has shown what an incredible difference these improvements make to the efficient loading, handling and transport of grain. “As more of these projects come online, they will further increase the capacity of our rail freight network to accommodate the state’s increased grain production.”