WESTERN Australia’s CBH Group has ordered 17 narrow-gauge locomotives from US company Wabtec Corporation, a move which will lift the number of narrow-gauge locomotives in the WA bulk-handler’s fleet to 37.
Wabtec is based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and is a leading global provider of equipment, systems and digital solutions for the freight and transit rail sectors.
The first tranche of five Wabtec CM20ACi dual-cab, diesel-electric locomotives will arrive in Australia in the March 2026 quarter and will be operational soon after, with the remaining 12 locomotives due to arrive in the following quarter.
CBH has also ordered 200 standard-gauge and 450 narrow-gauge grain-hopper wagons from CRRC Meishan, with the first tranche to be delivered in the September 2024 quarter, and the last expected by the June 2025 quarter.
CBH opened three competitive Request for Proposal processes in the second half of 2022 for the purchase of standard-gauge and narrow-gauge locomotives and wagons to expand and strengthen its current rail fleet, which consists of 25 locomotives and 572 wagons.
In December 2022, CBH entered into an agreement to purchase a further seven standard-gauge locomotives.
“Our rail fleet is a key asset for the co-operative and expanding our existing train sets is a strategic priority that is critical for us to achieve CBH’s Path to 2033 strategy that aims to lift our monthly export capacity to 3 million tonnes by 2033 or sooner,” CBH chief executive officer Ben Macnamara said.
“Expanding our narrow-gauge locomotive fleet, in conjunction with the expansion of our standard-gauge locomotive fleet, is a significant step to enhance our outloading capability.
“By investing in our supply chain network, we are ensuring we can deliver tonnes to customers when needed and therefore return sustained value to Western Australian growers.”
Wabtec president of freight equipment Rogerio Mendonca said the CM20ACi is “a perfect addition to CBH’s growing fleet.”
“These locomotives will provide CBH with low operational costs, high availability and proven reliability needed to succeed in today’s competitive market.”
Wabtec senior regional vice president South East Asia, Australia, and New Zealand Wendy McMillan said the company was looking forward to supporting CBH’s service of WA’s agriculture industry.
“These locomotives will enable CBH to increase grain shipments and drive CO2 emission reductions by moving more grain via rail,” Ms McMillan said.
CRRC Meishan was established in the 1960s in China, and is a major supplier of rollingstock in China, and to export markets.
“The new hopper wagons will incorporate innovative designs to allow low wagon tare weight and quick discharge rate,” CRRC Meishan chair Pan Shuping said.
CBH’s Path to 2033 strategy is aligned with the co-operative’s objective of being able to safely receive an average 22Mt crop by 2033 and out-turn 70 percent of this in the first half of the shipping window.
Source: CBH Group, Wabtec