IT IS probably what you would expect from senior railway executives but it seemed the greatest thrill in their trip from the United States was a ride in a new CBH Group locomotive from Avon Yard to Kwinana.
“In 30 years it will be my first time in a brand-new locomotive,” Watco Companies senior vice-president John Brown from Idaho said.
Led by the company’s chief executive officer Rick Webb, the executives were in Northam last Thursday to spend time with the local Watco team, introducing staff to the company’s business values and ethic of customer service.
“We want to show our people here that support is available,” Mr Webb said.
The company has a 10-year contact with a further 10-year right of renewal to carry CBH’s grain on rail with locomotives and rolling stock bought for about $170 million by CBH in a decision which came out of left field.
Northam will be a major hub for Watco WA Rail’s operations with around 35 staff currently employed locally.
“The prediction is that we will hire more people even though we have staff to meet present requirements,” Mr Brown said.
Watco Companies was founded in 1983 by Mr Webb’s father and has its home base in Pittsburg, Kansas.
This was Mr Webb’s eighth trip to Australia since the contract was announced at the beginning of 2011.
It officially began the contract on May 1.
Currently five narrow gauge locomotives painted in distinctive CBH livery, manufactured by MotivePower in Boise, Idaho, are in Australia with two being commissioned and six on the water, coming to Australia from Savannah, Georgia.
The last of the 20-plus locomotives will arrive in November.
Mr Webb said CBH was a customer any railway company would want.
“They’ve made a big bet and we’re honoured they’ve placed this trust in us,” he said.
“Down the track, by pleasing CBH, we expect we will arouse other interest.
“This has worked in the States.
“And we are enormously impressed with the quality of our team in Northam.”