CBH’S Grain Express initiative received overwhelming support from rail industry representatives last week, but other key stakeholders of the CBH network however, including rival grain marketers, still have some unanswered questions on the radical new concept.
Speaking during a special presentation at a Rural Media Association breakfast in Perth last week, two key rail industry representatives said Grain Express was critical for future investment to keep WA’s ageing rail network running.
Grain Express involves a virtual stock system whereby grain ownership is removed from its physical delivery.
This form of virtual ownership extends to other grains and makes it possible to increase the transfer speed of grain from CBH delivery sites to ports.
Grain ownership is swapped according to the needs of grain accumulators and would be line with their shipping schedules.
It is also promised to push more grain to port by rail and reduce dramatic increases in grain transportation by road after deregulation.
It has been designed by CBH in consultation with the representatives of the grains industry in an ongoing process.
WestNet Rail general manager Paul Larsen claimed millions of dollars in rail investment were at risk if Grain Express did not get of the ground.
WestNet Rail operates and maintains about 5100km of rail throughout the southern half of WA but its return from grain transportation appears tenuous.
Mr Larsen said investment in rail would only work, with the Government and the private sector putting in money, if there was certainty of volume.
He said Grain Express was the answer to that predicament and it would also help to restrict the amount of grain transported by road.
He urged the State Government to support the Grain Infrastructure Group’s calls for significant reinvestment of $200 million in the rail network, warning dire consequences could follow if the pleas were ignored.