AWB Managing Director Andrew Lindberg announced today that the introduction of the Waratah train to haul grain in southern NSW had been a resounding success with more than one million tonnes carried since it began operations in 2000.
When the NSW State Government implemented an open access regime into the NSW Rail Network in 1997, it put in place a framework to encourage private sector competition to improve efficiencies and drive down costs in the supply chain.
Mr Lindberg said following the Government’s decision AWB leased the Waratah train from Freight Australia in 1999 with the aim of increasing competitive pressure on freight rates in southern NSW.
"The results from a grower’s perspective could not have been better," Mr Lindberg said.
"Not only is there more competition on the NSW rail network, but the benefits of this competition have been realised across the board with an average freight rate reduction of approximately 13% since the open access regime was put in place.
"In some cases, such as at Junee, the impact of the Waratah train has seen a reduction in freight rates as high as 37%.
"However it has not only been main lines that have benefited from the additional competition, more than half of the tonnage on the Waratah train has been loaded from branch lines, helping maintain the economic viability of these branch lines.
"The success of the Waratah train is a prime example of why AWB is investing in other areas of the supply chain like storage and handling - to ensure growers get value for money for the service they receive as well as an opportunity to see industry costs as a whole trending down," Mr Lindberg said.
Freight Australia's Chief Executive, Marinus van Onselen, said Freight Australia is pleased to have supported AWB with our Waratah train initiative.
"We view the position of the NSW Government in providing substantial funds to maintain track in support of open access as a positive and fundamental ingredient to improving the competitive position of rail," said Mr van Onselen.
Mr Lindberg said that the NSW State Government was to be congratulated for putting in place policy and track funding that has been a catalyst in allowing AWB to drive down costs, maximise grower returns and ensure the sustainability of efficient country branch lines.