CBH partner Watco wades in on Tier 3

Rueben HaleThe West Australian
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A rail inquiry into the WA freight rail network has taken an unexpected turn with the inclusion of a last-minute submission from American rail operator Watco.

CBH currently employs contractor Watco to operate its locomotives and wagons.

The inquiry, which is being conducted by the Economics and Industry Standing Committee, is expected to report its findings on August 14.

The committee will report on how the current lease arrangements and management of the WA freight rail network affect State development.

Brookfield Rail holds a 49-year lease on WA's entire rail network and closed all Tier 3 lines last week, despite a long-running campaign by Wheatbelt farmers to have the lines remain open.

Committee chairman Ian Blayney said after hearing the evidence from a variety of industry stakeholders, it seemed appropriate to get a submission from Watco.

"Watco has more than 100 years experience operating rail in North America on similar lines to our Tier 3," he said.

Meanwhile, CBH general manager David Capper has fuelled prospects of the potential for Watco taking over Tier 3 lines.

"Their business in the US is set up around bringing back to life closed railway lines and they currently operate the US version of Tier 3 lines," he said.

"That's their operating model, which they are very good at."

But Mr Capper also said CBH maintained an appetite for rail.

"If we had the opportunity, we'd be looking at the opportunity to do it in conjunction with Watco," he said

"That doesn't necessarily mean it has to be Watco with us either, we just want access to those lines and we want them to perform to an operational standard at a reasonable rate."

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