WAGIN residents were treated to a piece of history last weekend, when the first of the new Co-operative Bulk Handling (CBH) trains rolled into town.
In a move to develop their own rolling stock, WA farmer-owned co-operative CBH Group has invested $175 million to buy 22 new locomotives and 574 new wagons.
CBH 001: Yilliminning and CBH 002: Mooterdine are the first two locomotives off the production line and the first to start working, having led 60 narrow gauge wagons to Hyden to commence loading grain earlier in the week.
CBH Group general manager Colin Tutt said it was a truly historic moment for WA growers and the CBH Group.
“Having our first train on the tracks is a landmark,” he said
“We hope as many growers and staff in the area can catch a glimpse as it moves through the Great Southern over the next few weeks.
“I am sure that they will feel as proud as I do when they see their trains; it just goes to show what a co-operative can do, bring to life great and bold ideas.”
The two working locomotives are 2700 horsepower narrow gauge and feature dynamic braking, giving better fuel efficiency and distributed power, making the engine more efficient with better turnaround time.
The locomotives also meet the highest environmental standards, achieving the US tier three emission standards.
Katanning district area manager Chris Poot said the trains represented the latest technology,
“Having engines at either end means that it is easier to load and unload, making them more time efficient,” he said.
The trains are also able to carry a bigger payload, meaning more tons to port per load.
Mr Poot said the real return for growers would be lower freight rates at harvest, as there would be no need for outsourcing.
Manufactured by MotivePower, an industry leader in the design, manufacture and re-manufacture of diesel-electric locomotives, the engines have made the long journey from their facilities in Idaho in the United States.
The next eight locomotives in the fleet are planned to reach WA by the end of July with the remaining not far behind.