Two locomotives, 48 wagons, and drivers are on loan from Aurizon to CBH Group to help the grain handler get a record braking harvest to port.
According to CBH chief operations officer Ben Macnamara, the temporary arrangement will enable the deployment of CBH rail fleets.
“From time to time we supplement our rail fleet with third party arrangements when there is an above average harvest,” Mr Macnamara said.
“The arrangement with Aurizon will enable one of CBH’s rail fleets normally repositioned into the Geraldton Zone during the post-harvest period to move back into the Kwinana North and South Zones to assist with the export program whilst maintaining two rail fleets in the Geraldton Zone.”
Late 2020 and early 2021 have been busy for CBH, with records broken in tonnes shipped.
“Our export program significantly ramped up in December 2020, a month in which we shipped 1.64 million tonnes alone, eclipsing the previous monthly record of 1.62 million tonnes that was achieved in December 2018,” said Macnamara.
Stems at all four grain port terminals at Geraldton, Kwinana, Albany, and Esperance are fully booked to the end of June. Since October 2.5m tonnes of grain had been moved from country receival sites to ports.
“It’s a credit to our site, terminal and logistics teams who received grain deliveries from growers during harvest while safely moving a significant amount of grain through our system to our ports,” said Macnamara.
“We’re seeing a larger portion of the crop going out of a narrower window, so we are focused on getting more out of our existing infrastructure to maximise efficiency and get grain to port when it matters most.
“Looking ahead, we anticipate shipping a further 9.3 million tonnes of wheat, barley, canola, lupins and oats via bulk shipments to multiple international destinations between now and June.”
To enable grain to make its way to port, the fleet on loan from Aurizon will work with CBH operator Watco Australia. The arrangement will commence on Monday, February 1. Macnamara said it was crucial that rail freight was maximised.
“Our preference is to move as much grain as possible via rail where it represents the least cost pathway from site to port.”