Push to fast track site

Kate MatthewsCountryman

Farmers carting grain to Newdegate are calling for urgent upgrades to help encourage more grain on rail.

The tier one receival site, which is the fourth largest in the Albany zone, has a grain storage capacity of 245,550 tonnes and offers growers 14 segregations.

Locals say the challenging site desperately needs infrastructure upgrades in the short, not long term.

Bottlenecks and falling number machines are causing delays but users say there are bigger issues at play.

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Rosenthal Transport cartage contractor Russell Rosenthal believes an additional weighbridge is needed as well as another open bulk head or three more cells. He said it would increase storage and segregations and lessen the volume of trucks delivering to a secondary cell, past the primary school, at the Newdegate field day site.

Swipe cards similar to those used at the Metro Grain Centre and other sites are another suggestion as well as the need for recieval point officers to have a full week of training opposed to just one day.

The contractor said clients often rang wanting to know where the hold-up was and drivers were caught in the middle.

Local farmer Gary Guelfi said it was a challenging site at the best of times with more than 8000 tonnes of grain received in day.

"The staff are doing a great job at Newdegate and upgrades at strategic sites is an issue for CBH north to south," he said.

The urgency for upgrades is due in part to port differentials, says Ian Chamberlain.

Last year on the same day, Mr Chamberlain said there was a $30 per tonne difference between APW delivered in Esperance and Albany.

It's this price difference that is encouraging more growers to deliver to Newdegate.

"We can get away with what we have got in the short term, but strategic grain sites of which Newdegate is one, need to be seriously looked at especially to encourage grain on rail," Mr Chamberlain explained.

Over the last five years, grower deliveries have averaged just under 140,000 tonnes with 215,000 recorded in 2008/09 and just 78,000t last harvest.

So far this year, the site has received over 134,194 tonnes, with the daily recieval record set at 8978 tonnes.

CBH strategy manager David Capper said at this stage, there were no major works planned for Newdegate in the current five-year planning horizon.

"If we can get a few good seasons in a row this would allow us to accelerate our network strategy and allocate additional funds to site throughput improvements which could include an upgrade to the loading system on the two original open bulk heads at Newdegate from 300 to 500 tonnes per hour and add an additional weighbridge," Mr Capper said.

CBH invests up to $40 million a year on major capital upgrades and has invested over $23 million in the Albany zone in the last five years.

In 2007-09 CBH invested over $7 million on upgrading Newdegate's neighbouring site Lake Grace.

CBH said it will continue to review its network strategy every year and will make adjustments as the environment changes.

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