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Western Australia's main grain handler the CBH Group says this is a watershed week in rail access negotiations with Brookfield Rail.
Brookfield Rail has an exclusive lease over the state's grain rail network and therefore it is necessary for the two parties to strike a deal if CBH wants to continue to transport grain on rail.
The 90-day negotiating period for a long term rail access agreement under WA's Railway Access Code expires on June 24.
CBH Group operations general manager David Capper said the significance of these talks could not be underestimated.
"While the track has been leased for nearly 15 years now this is the first time that WA growers will directly negotiate with their below rail provider," he said.
"While this agreement is a 10-year agreement, which in itself is quite significant, it really sets up how the relationship between our growers and their rail provider, both in a relationship sense and a commercial sense, will work for the remaining 34 years of the lease and that's why these negotiations are so critical.
"This is a really critical week, as the time starts to run out our ability to be able to close a deal obviously diminishes."
Mr Capper said if June 24 passed without an agreement there were options.
"If we're close we can choose to extend the negotiating period mutually to finish negotiating the deal, but if at the 24th June or the lead up to the 24th we are still significantly apart then we can choose to appoint an arbitrator to resolve any of the differences."
Mr Capper said price was still the main sticking point.
"Back in 2013 there were a number of sticking points. We've managed to work through some of those and we've compromised on some of those but price is still the most critical.
"It's a significant component of our supply chain and it's a very important component in terms of the efficiency of moving tonnes to port in a cost effective way and because of that price is always going to be a key component of the negotiation."
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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