WEST PERTH, AUSTRALIA — The CBH Group hosted the Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese at its Kwinana Port Terminal on Jan. 6 as the federal government reinforced its A$135 million investment in the Western Australia (WA) grain rail network.

CBH Group Acting Chief Executive Officer Allyn Wasley said CBH welcomed the opportunity to recognize the government’s support for the grain industry of WA, Australia’s largest state for grain exports.

“The visit by Prime Minister Gillard and Minister Albanese demonstrates the Federal Government’s significant commitment to Western Australian growers,” Wasley said.

“The announcement by the federal government, together with the state government commitment, provides a collective funding package of A$350 million for WA’s grain rail network. This funding will see significant upgrades and much needed maintenance delivered to the network after decades of neglect.”

Wasley said the federal and state governments’ funding package was a catalyst for CBH’s recent move to invest up to A$175 million in rolling stock for the above rail network.

“Last month we announced our decision to award the long-term grain rail contract to experienced United States transportation group Watco Companies,” Wasley said.

“Last week, we issued a request for proposal to potential local and international suppliers of locomotives and we are working towards engaging a supplier in coming weeks.

“This was the first time in CBH’s 78-year history that we went to tender for our rail transport task in a move designed to create greater value, efficiency and safety for grain growers and the WA grains industry. This decision has resulted in the introduction of competition for the first time in the WA grain rail freight market and the first major investment in new rolling stock for decades.”

The new 10-year agreement would commence in May 2012 and will see Watco provide a comprehensive rail logistics planning service including train planning and scheduling, tracking, maintenance, inventory control and crew management.