CBH slams Brookfield for getting sums wrong

Countryman (Western Australia)

CBH has accused WA rail operator Brookfield Rail of miscalculating the access cost for the Wheatbelt grain rail network.

The co-operative has been in a long-running dispute with Brookfield over transparency about rail access fees the group is required to pay for the use of critical Tier 3 and other grain network lines.

In its submission to the Economic Regulation Authority, CBH revealed Brookfield's costings were between 2.3 and seven times that of the co-operative's estimates (see main story).

The co-operative's ERA submission said Brookfield had failed to properly calculate the floor and ceiling costs and, if it had done so in accordance with regulations, the figures should have been significantly lower.

Brookfield has overvalued the gross replacement value of the railway and railway infrastructure, has overvalued its operating costs, and has overvalued its overheads and BR has not properly calculated the floor costs, CBH's submission said.

Instead of calculating the incremental costs of providing access to CBH, it appears to have attributed all non-maintenance and overhead costs, and substantially all maintenance operating costs, to CBH irrespective of CBH's total proportion of demand.

The submission said the Public Transport Authority would therefore need to determine a cost, because the Brookfield costs cannot be relied upon.

Countryman understands that Brookfield had not wanted the determination made public.

However, a CBH spokeswoman said the co-operative wanted the determination to be transparent.

At this stage CBH has provided feedback to the ERA that we do not believe any content in the ERA determination should be confidential, she said.

Brookfield said strict confidentiality had been imposed on both parties by the ERA and, therefore, Brookfield Rail had no further comment on the ERA's actual determination.

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