AusRAIL, Market Sectors

AWB in talks to get El Zorro to rescue grain crop

<p>AWB was negotiating a long-term contract with niche rail operator El Zorro to handle New South Wales and Victorian grain crops, <em>Lloyd’s List DCN</em> was told yesterday (Thursday, March 13).</p> <p>A reconstruction of rail freight services has been underway since Pacific National’s withdrawal from non-performing rail services in southern states.</p> <p>El Zorro provides AWB with two trains that move grain from AWB GrainFlow network and other bulk handling company country grain storages.</p> <p>The trains operate in Victoria and NSW, with one train available for standard gauge track and the other for broad gauge.</p> <p>AWB spokesperson Peter McBride told <em>Lloyd’s List DCN</em> that the company’s partnership with El Zorro had been a successful one and they were now looking into the future given Pacific National’s pulling out.</p> <p>&#8220We are currently in discussions with El Zorro to have a more robust and long-term relationship," Mr McBride said.</p> <p>&#8220If we get a decent wheat crop and a bigger season then we will use El Zorro for our export crop to various parts of Victoria and NSW.&#8221 </p> <p>Mr McBride said that the number of train movements per annum would depend on the size of the crop and AWB’s appetite to export grain under the new wheat marketing legislations.</p> <p>However, El Zorro business manager Geoff Tighe told <em>Lloyd’s List DCN</em> that the new contact under negotiation would see train movements at least double.</p> <p>&#8220We run about 250 trains over the course of the year," Mr Tighe said. </p> <p>"AWB has confidence within us and right now, this very day, we are discussing more services, perhaps 500-700 per annum." </p> <p>Mr Tighe said that El Zorro would need to acquire or lease more rolling stock to cope with the demand of a potential bumper harvest.</p> <p>&#8220We are gearing up and planning how we will run a service with them of that nature but we are confident that we will have all the answers,&#8221 he said.</p> <p>&#8220AWB want us to go across a fair bit of territory so we are planning that with them right now.</p> <p>&#8220Hopefully, they’ll establish a contract with us for next season and then we’ll need to organise suppliers, equipments, drivers We are pretty confident that we’ll have all those things in place.&#8221</p> <p>Mr Tighe said that the partnership with AWB offered a great opportunity for El Zorro to broaden its footprint in the rail industry.</p> <p>&#8220It provides us with a platform to become the preferred rail carrier for customers seeking reliable and high-quality services,&#8221 he said.</p> <p>&#8220The introduction of competition in the rail industry will lead to operational efficiencies and should be welcomed by all stakeholders.&#8221</p> <p>Mr Tighe said that in four to six weeks a final proposal would be met.</p> <br />