Stop-gap measure for Tier 3

Brad ThompsonThe West Australian
Stop-gap measure for Tier 3
Camera IconStop-gap measure for Tier 3 Credit: The West Australian

CBH will try to thrash out an interim deal to keep grain moving on rail after June 30 if there is no resolution in the dispute with Brookfield Rail over long-term access.

The co-operative yesterday moved to quell fears that all grain from its receival sites could be moved to port by road from July.

In recent private briefings with Wheatbelt shires serviced by Tier 3 lines, CBH raised the worst-case scenario of carting all grain by road "for a period of time".

It is becoming increasing likely no deal will be in place when the existing agreement covering all grain freight lines expires on June 30. The State's economic regulator yesterday pushed back key deadlines in the process for resolving the dispute under WA's railway access code.

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The Economic Regulation Authority will now either approve the floor and ceiling rates provided by Brookfield or re-determine them by April 28. A statutory 90-day negotiation period will follow the ERA's ruling.

The period for public submissions, due to close yesterday, was extended until April 7 after requests from CBH and other interested parties.

A CBH spokesperson said it would attempt to negotiate a short-term agreement with Brookfield if the ERA process continued beyond June 30.

CBH is taking action against Brookfield in the Supreme Court as it seeks more details on the floor and ceiling prices.

An application filed with the court on January 17 indicates Brookfield is refusing to hand over the details unless CBH agrees to keep them confidential.

CBH argues that WA grain growers are paying the highest rail haulage rates in Australia and believes revealing the costings will allow the public to make informed submissions.

The ERA had received 11 submissions up until late yesterday.

Brookfield chief executive Paul Larsen refused to comment.

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