More grain on rail

Claire TyrrellCountryman

WA farmers can expect more grain on rail next year as a result of CBH’s deal with US transport group Watco.

The contract, announced last month, will see CBH invest $175 million into carts and locomotives in WA over the next decade.

CBH rail manager Andrew Mencshelyi said the partnership would help put more grain on rail.

“It is the first time in more than a decade investment has been made in rolling stock, ” he said.

“The first goal is to increase tonnes to port on rail and the second is to continue to keep freight rates competitive with road.”

About 70 per cent of grain in the Geraldton zone was carted by rail in the 2009–10 season.

During a visit to Geraldton with Watco representatives last week, Mr Mencshelyi said this would increase by the 2012–13 harvest.

Watco personnel have been in WA travelling the lines this month to assess inefficiencies on the grain rail network and determine where investment should be made.

Watco chief executive Rick Webb said his company would aim to transfer as many grain carriers from road to rail as possible.

“We are finalising our operating plan with CBH that will maximise tonnage by rail and benefit growers, ” he said.

“Our goal is to make sure the value that is delivered by rail is best for growers and CBH.”

Works will begin as part of the CBH and Watco merger in May next year.

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