A BOOST to the Qube rail fleet came last week when 100 grain wagons were unloaded at the Port of Newcastle.
Grain Central understands 37 of them will replace those destroyed in the crash in December 2020 near Port Kembla.
The balance will be used behind leased locomotives to form Qube’s third train servicing the run from its site in Coonamble in north-west New South Wales to the Newcastle Agri Terminal (NAT) which it bought last year.
Qube also owns the Quattro terminal at Port Kembla, south of Sydney, and has one train servicing that run.
A Qube spokesperson said the wagons were ordered earkt last year and manufactured in China, in response to Australian growers and trading houses seeking additional capacity.
Each wagon can carry up to 68 tonnes of grain.
“The wagons will enhance our current fleet and will operate across the network servicing our customers’ needs in another bumper export program,” the spokesperson said.
ACCC investigates acquisition
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in October said it would be investigating potential competition issues arising from Qube’s acquisition of NAT.
Qube is now the only entity operating in Australian grain which owns the up-country receival point, the export terminal, and the train which carries grain between the two.
This makes it different to the likes of Emerald, GrainCorp, Viterra and CBH, which contract out the rail haulage component.
ACCC said Qube’s end-to-end position on the Newcastle route could enable it to engage in anti-competitive bundling of storage, handling and transport with terminal services.
“Our investigation will focus on the impact of the acquisition on the supply chain for bulk grain export through the Port of Newcastle, and the ability and incentive for Qube to discriminate against rivals,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said.
“As the investigation relates to a completed acquisition it will be conducted on an enforcement basis,” ACCC said in a statement released in October.
“Qube notified the ACCC on 8 September 2021 and then completed the transaction on 30 September, despite requests from the ACCC to delay completion of the transaction after competition concerns were raised by market participants.
“The ACCC was not provided with sufficient time or information to assess the competitive impact of the transaction.”
ACCC said the potential competition concerns which have been raised relate to the vertically integrated position that Qube now holds in the supply chain.