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After a three-month halt on negotiations, rail freight operator Brookfield Rail and Cooperative Bulk Handling, will return to the task of trying to lock in a 10-year rail access agreement.
As Western Australia's major grain handler, CBH needs to sign a deal with Brookfield Rail to keep using the rail freight network to transport grain from country receival points, to port.
The Economic Regulatory Authority is overseeing negotiations between Brookfield and CBH as the two parties could not strike a deal on their own.
An agreement over rail access was expected in November 2014, but the two decided to halt negotiations over the 2014/15 harvest period.
Brookfield and CBH now have 90 days to come to an agreement by April.
The two companies will also aim to reach an agreement over the future of Tier 3 Rail lines; lines that Brookfield put into care and maintenance on June 30, 2014.
The reopening of Tier 3 relies on an agreement between CBH and Brookfield Rail, but Brookfield CEO Paul Larsen says it will also rely on cooperation and collaboration with the government.
"And co-investing our capital alongside the government's and CBH's to reopen those Tier 3 lines that CBH would like to seek access to," he said.
"I think it's really now about us all working together to find a solution that involves that co-investment model."
WA's acting Minister for Transport John Day says that it is waiting for the outcome of negotiations between Brookfield and CBH.
But Mr Day said the State Government is committed to "keeping open commercially viable Tier 3 rail lines."
"The State Government also remains committed to a viable grain freight transport network that encompasses a mix of road and rail transport," he said.
A spokeswoman for CBH said before CBH can consider any agreement on Tier 3 investment in partnership with Brookfield Rail and government, the group "need to understand where our access revenues are going."
The spokeswoman said CBH is being asked to fund Brookfield's maintenance obligations "without any transparency."
She said CBH has been a willing party and has acted in good faith in negotiations with Brookfield Rail.
"We continue to be open to negotiating a reasonable access agreement under transparent conditions," she said.
"The ERA process is CBH’s best opportunity to achieve this at present."
The State Government is [color=#e0310e]expected[/color] to table a response to a parliamentary inquiry into the management of WA’s freight rail network in February.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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