Brookfield rail costs 'too high'

Rueben HaleCountryman
Brookfield rail costs 'too high'
Camera IconBrookfield rail costs 'too high' Credit: The West Australian

CBH has accused WA rail operator Brookfield Rail of miscalculating the access cost for the Wheatbelt grain rail network.

Economic Regulation Authority earlier this week finally made its determination regarding floor and ceiling costs on Brookfield's country rail network, but the determination had been withheld pending further consultation between CBH and the rail operator.

CBH today finally released its submission to Economic Regulation Authority.

The co-operative has been in a long running dispute with Brookfield over transparency about rail access fees the group is required to pay for the use of critical Tier 3 and other grain network lines.

Countryman understands Brookfield had not wanted the determination made public.

In its submission, CBH revealed Brookfield's costings were between 2.3 and seven times that of the co-operative's estimates.

CBH quoted a $15,821,503 floor to $274,546,536 ceiling access cost estimate, compared with Brookfield's BR $110,329,225 to $617,685,432 range.

The co-operative's ERA submission said Brookfield had failed to properly calculate the floor and ceiling costs and, if it had done so in accordance with regulation, the figures should have been "significantly lower".

"BR has overvalued the gross replacement value of the railway and railway infrastructure, has overvalued its operating costs, and has overvalued its overheads and BR has not properly calculated the floor costs," CBH's submission said.

"Instead of calculating the incremental costs of providing access to CBH, it appears to have attributed all non-maintenance and overhead costs, and substantially all maintenance operating costs, to CBH irrespective of CBH's total proportion of demand."

The submission said the Public Transport Authority would therefore need to determine a cost, because the Brookfield costs "cannot be relied upon".

Meanwhile, a CBH spokeswoman said the co-operative wanted the determination to be transparent.

"At this stage CBH has provided feedback to the ERA that we do not believe any content in the ERA determination should be confidential," she said.

"We understand that the ERA will finalise the issue in due course once they have had feedback from Brookfield Rail."

Brookfield Rail told Countryman it looked forward to commencing negotiations under the ERA Access Code between the ERA-determined floor and ceiling charges.

The rail operator said the ERA had made a June 30 determination on floor and ceiling costs for routes on Brookfield’s network, routes relevant to CBH’s access proposal.

“This decision was based on information provided by both parties,” the company said through a spokeswoman.

“Strict confidentiality has been imposed on both Brookfield Rail and CBH by the ERA and, therefore, Brookfield Rail has no further comment on the ERA’s actual determination.”

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