WEST PERTH, AUSTRALIA — The CBH Group on Nov. 15 said that it welcomed the commitment by the Australian state and federal governments to invest a total of A$350 million in the future of the grain transport network in Western Australia.

CBH Group Chairman Neil Wandel said the additional funding package announced by the state government delivers the platform to ensure the majority of Western Australia’s grain harvest continues to be transported to port by rail.

“We congratulate the state and federal government on making such a significant investment in the future of the grain rail network and in road upgrades where rail may no longer be the lowest cost pathway to port,” Wandel said.

“Efficient inland transport infrastructure is absolutely vital to Western Australia in an increasingly competitive global grain market. There have been many years of discussion about the best way forward for our grain transport network and it is very welcome that we now have the funding required to implement the recommendations of the Strategic Grain Network Review.

“On behalf of growers, CBH now looks forward to joining with government and WestNet Rail to set the priorities for future major rail maintenance and upgrades.

“As the biggest customer of the grain rail network and with our own significant and growing investment in rail infrastructure, we believe we can provide crucial input into getting the best return for the Western Australian community on this funding.”

Wandel said the CBH Group remained committed to keeping grain on rail where it was the least cost path to port.

“We are geared to rail because fully-loaded and efficient rail services are more economic than road, as well as being the preferred option for the community and the environment.

“We have invested heavily in rapid rail loading facilities and in providing highly efficient port discharge facilities to support efficient use of the rail network.

“And this year, for the first time, we have undertaken a request for proposal process for the provision of the above-rail task of moving grain to port. This is one of the critical elements in developing a long term, sustainable solution for rail freight in Western Australia and will help improve service levels and keep freight charges competitive."