WEST PERTH, AUSTRALIA — The CBH Group officially launched on Aug. 24 its A$175 million investment in a new fleet of locomotives and wagons to help haul the Western Australian annual grain harvest.
The event celebrated the purchase of 22 new locomotives, each named after historic rail sidings across the WA wheatbelt, and 574 new purpose-built wagons, of which 446 are narrow gauge and 128 standard gauge. This is the first dedicated new grain rail fleet to arrive in Western Australia in more than 30 years.
Among the crowd of around 700 guests and dignitaries at the CBH Group Metro Grain Centre in Forrestfield were State Minister for Agriculture and Food, Terry Redman, Federal Special Minister for State Gary Gray, CBH Group Chairman Neil Wandel, CBH Group Chief Executive Officer Dr. Andrew Crane and Watco Companies Chief Commercial Officer Ed McKechnie.
CBH General Manager Operations Colin Tutt said the launch marks two years of dedication and hard work to bring the dream of growers owning their own rail fleet to life and also marks the beginning of a very proud chapter in the history of the CBH Group and the WA grain industry.
"We will go from strength to strength this year as each train is commissioned and growers see more tonnes moving to port more efficiently," he said."The trains have state-of-the-art technology and across the fleet we'll have more horsepower to achieve faster journeys to port and faster turnaround times at sites.
"The locomotives have distributed power which means they can push and pull, allowing us to operate more efficiently and be far more productive.  This coupled with our new light-weight aluminum wagons will revitalize rail in Western Australia."
The five winning entrants in the CBH Group Name a Train competition, which was run in 2011, comprising three growers and two CBH employees, were invited to attend the launch and presented with plaques thanking them for the contribution in giving our first rail fleet an identity.
The winning names were Yilliminning entered in by Andrew Borthwick; Mooterdine entered in by Kelvin Price; and Baandee entered in by Mark Smith.
"Many of these old rail sidings are now abandoned; nevertheless they are an important part of the early rail expansion in WA," Tutt said. "In moving forward to a modern and sustainable rail future, we can now remember and pay tribute to the history that gave us the opportunity to build such a globally competitive grain industry."