WEST, PERTH, AUSTRALIA —CBH Group announced on Nov. 11 that it has signed a one-year extension to the current interim access agreement with Brookfield Rail.

CBH Group General Manager of Operations David Capper said the agreement will provide access from Jan. 1, 2016 to Dec. 31, 2016. The interim agreement was signed in May and was set to expire at the end of December. CBH said it had to sign that agreement in order to keep trains moving. Brookfield has an exclusive lease over the Western Australia’s grain rail network.

“The deal increases the cost of access by CPI on the lines offered as CBH and Brookfield Rail go through the process of obtaining a long-term access agreement through the ERA,” said Capper. “The proposal includes a continuation of access to all Tier 1 and Tier 2 rail lines with CPI increase, with the agreement including the Miling Line.”

“Brookfield Rail had flagged some time ago that they were not planning to offer access to the Miling Line in the future so this a great outcome for the grain growers of WA,” he said. “However, no access to Tier 3 lines was offered, which is disappointing for the growers in Tier 3 areas.”

To secure access to the Miling line, CBH will need to meet a minimum volume which is greater than the current average, CBH said.

To secure access to the Miling line, CBH has agreed to a fixed cost component which will increase freight rates for sites on the Miling line A30¢ - 40¢ per tonne above the estimated freight rates published in October.

“This increase will affect growers who deliver to Miling, Bindi Bindi, Piawaning, Yerecoin, Calingiri and Bolgart; we want growers to have that information as soon as possible so they can factor that into their decision making for harvest deliveries,” Capper said. “We have an obligation to protect the reputation of the WA grains industry as a secure origin and get growers grain to market on time and this agreement will ensure marketers are serviced throughout the busiest shipping period of the year which falls from January through to April.”

“The certainty of having another 12-month contract allows us to continue with harvest planning,” he said. “We will continue to fight for a fair deal for WA growers through the ongoing ERA process to secure a long-term agreement.”