Home » Bignell Tapped to Lead Watco Australia – Railway Age

Bignell Tapped to Lead Watco Australia – Railway Age


Written by


Marybeth Luczak
, Executive Editor


(Watco Photograph)

Gavin Bignell is the new CEO of Watco Australia, according to parent company Watco, a transportation and supply chain services company based in Pittsburg, Kans.

Watco, which runs more than 60 short lines and regionals in North America, began Australian operations in 2012. On the East Coast, Watco Australia primarily hauls bulk grain, livestock and steelworks products; on the West Coast, intermodal freight as well as track infrastructure materials, which include ballast and rail services across a 5,500 km narrow and standard gauge network. The company employs 400 people.

Bignell took on leadership in 2022, Watco reported in the March 2023 edition of The Dispatch, its in-house magazine. He was previously a customer of Watco Australia, serving most recently as General Manager Operations for Fremantle Ports in Western Australia. He also worked for LIVEstock Pricing Pty. Ltd. in Perth and at CBH Group.

Gavin Bignell, CEO, Watco Australia

“I’m fortunate to have inherited an experienced team,” Bignell told the magazine. “Their commitment to customers and safety has paved the way for Watco Australia to expand its footprint nationally since starting operations in 2012. I’m excited for what’s to come next.”

According to Watco, one opportunity for growth in 2023 lies in cattle train service. “This once-shrinking market is rapidly becoming a core business for Watco Australia since landing its first livestock contract in 2021,” the company reported.

Bignell noted in the article that he hopes to boost grain business, from hauling 600,000 tons in 2022 to 800,000 tons this year by working with an existing customer. To foster container business growth, Watco Australia in 2023 will work with stakeholders, including the government, to improve its terminals. The company began intermodal service in 2016 and now moves 13,000 20-foot containers by rail each month.

Also, to support current business and expand agricultural business, Watco Australia plans to add 65 railcars to its fleet this year and 30 additional engineers.

On the Watco Australia leadership team with Bignell are Vice Presidents David Rankine (Western Australia/New State Wales), Maria Zappala (Queensland), Adam Lebihan (Intermodal), Cameron Swaine (Maintenance and Rolling Stock Maintenance), Ken Hammat (Corporate Services and Chief Financial Officer), and Paul Hamersley (Customer Service, Marketing and Development).