CBH group hauls into record territory

30 Apr, 2018 04:00 AM
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A record 1.8 kilometre CBH grain train transported 9000 tonnes of wheat from the Wheatbelt to Perth last Wednesday. Photograph by Brad Harkup.
A record 1.8 kilometre CBH grain train transported 9000 tonnes of wheat from the Wheatbelt to Perth last Wednesday. Photograph by Brad Harkup.

THE CBH Group has broken its own record for the longest and largest grain train in Australia, after a train the length of 155 trucks passed through the eastern Wheatbelt last week, carrying 9000 tonnes of wheat.

The wheat was loaded at Doodlakine, Burracoppin and Bodallin before the 120-wagon train was made up at Merredin, from where it travelled to the CBH Group’s Kwinana Grain Terminal last Wednesday.

The 1.8 kilometre train surpassed the previously held grain industry record set in July 2016, which transported 6500t of wheat in 88 wagons, and measured 1.3km.

CBH Group’s general manager of operations David Capper said the record grain movement was part of a trial exploring transport efficiencies, in the hope of further reducing paddock to port costs.

“When we made the rail investment back in 2010-11 and partnered with our rail operator Watco, the overwhelming driver was to take control of above rail operations and deliver our growers the most efficient transport service possible,” Mr Capper said.

“In that first year, we were able to reduce freight rates by seven per cent and while these reductions have continued – rail freight rates are about 20pc lower now than in 2010-11 – there is so much more we want to achieve,” Mr Capper said.

Mr Capper said the success of the trial would enable CBH to provide more options to utilise wagons more effectively, and drive further efficiencies.

He said the trial was carried out in consultation with Arc Infrastructure to ensure the train met safe operating standards.

“While operating longer and larger trains creates economies of scale, we have to balance these efficiencies against other logistics considerations including the allocation of our rolling stock resources throughout the rest of network,” Mr Capper said.

“We learnt a lot when running the previous 88 wagon-train in 2016, and through this trial, we’ll build on those learnings to make sure we get growers’ grain to market in the most efficient and cost effective way possible.

“It’s certainly not about setting a record, but it is nice to see Western Australia out in front.”

CBH Group logistics manager Ben Raisbeck said while the bigger train provided economies of scale in transport and upcountry operations, there were still some challenges.

He said further analysis would need to be undertaken following the trial before decisions were made regarding the long term utilisation of the 120-wagon train.

“CBH is continuing to assess and analyse data from the trial, including information collected from the network tests and the ability to load and unload without disrupting operations,” Mr Raisbeck said.

“CBH will review all data collected on that day and assess the feasibility of the train’s performance, and how this balances with other logistical considerations including scheduling and rolling stock resource allocation.

“Pending the outcome of the trial, CBH plans to use the 120-wagon train in future to drive more efficiencies and give the co-operative more options to utilise its wagons most effectively.

In the meantime, CBH will continue to drive efficiencies through a number of transport options including the 88-wagon train on standard gauge.”

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