CBH has completed its $175 million transition to a new rail fleet as debate rages about the future of the Tier 3 rail line in the Wheatbelt.
The last of 22 purpose-built locomotives arrived in WA last week after a minor delay caused by an industrial dispute at Fremantle.
CBH logistics manager Andrew Mencshelyi said the delivery of the final two locomotives from the US completed a highly successful overhaul of rail operations, delivering a 7 per cent freight-rate saving with more to come.
Mr Mencshelyi said CBH would now step up its talks with the State Government and Brookfield Rail about the future of the Tier 3 lines, to close at the end of October.
He said the State Government was adamant that it would not commit more funds to the Tier 3 lines. CBH was trying to come to an agreement with Brookfield, which has a long-term lease on the entire rail freight network in the southern half of WA, to keep them open.
Mr Mencshelyi said CBH wanted the Tier 3 lines to stay open and one option was for Brookfield to sub-lease them to Watco, the company operating CBH's new fleet of locomotives and 574 wagons.
"All options are on the table," he said. "We have definitely given Brookfield and the Government the message that we want to continue to operate on those lines. People in the Wheatbelt want it to happen and the organisations want it to happen, so it is not a matter of if but of how, in my view."
Auditor-General Colin Murphy said this month that the Tier 3 lines were degraded and needed substantial funding. They were only safe when trains operated with speed restrictions, he said.
WAFarmers president Dale Park said Brookfield should give the Tier 3 lines to another operator if it allowed the new CBH fleet to operate more efficiently.The CBH fleet operates at up to 30 per cent below capacity in some parts of the Wheatbelt because of the speed restrictions.
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