Pacific National welcomes five new locomotives

Pacific National has taken delivery of five new 88 Class locomotives for its Queensland coal haulage operations.

The locos, which were designed and built by CSR Qishuyan in China, have been purpose-built for the Queensland heavy haul coal rail sector.

According to Asciano, the holding company for Pacific National, key features of the new coal haulage 88 Class locomotives include an MTU turbocharged diesel engine with Stage IIIA emissions compliance; ABB traction alternators and AC traction control as well as an ABB solid state auxiliary power supply; a Voith cooling system; NYAB electronically controlled pneumatic brakes; Faiveley air compressors; Simmico Queensland Train Radio and communications equipment; and Wabtec event recorders and wastewater treatment systems.

“To ensure the new locomotives meet the functional requirements of Australian operations, Pacific National employees in Gracemere, Queensland were consulted on the cabin design,” the company said.

“The procurement model for the new 88 class locomotive has achieved a cost effective solution that will help drive a more efficient haulage operation for Pacific National in Queensland now and into the future,”  Paul Griffin, the general manager of Queensland for Pacific National, said.

The new locomotives left Shanghai in February and arrived in Gladstone in March. They have now cleared customs and been relocated to Pacific National’s maintenance facilities for performance and safety testing.

Proposed Galilee Basin infrastructure deal to create 1300 jobs

Edging closer to a rail and port solution which will open up Queensland’s Galilee Basin, GVK Hancock today announced it is on the same page as Aurizon, agreeing on a draft infrastructure deal.

The proposed arrangement will see rail and coal terminal infrastructure at Abbot Point port developed with Aurizon acquiring a 51 per cent interest in Hancock Coal Infrastructure which owns GVK’s Hancock rail and port projects.

“The parties have made further progress over the last few months and have reached alignment on a rail solution and on the commercial terms for the proposed transaction such as governance, timing of milestones, funding and conditions for completion,” the companies said in a joint statement.

The development of port and rail infrastructure within the Queensland government’s preferred corridors is expected to create over 1300 jobs during construction and around 300 long-term jobs once operational.

Collectively the plan is also expected to attract $6 billion worth of investment.

The open-access infrastructure will service GVK Hancock’s Alpha, Alpha West and Kevin’s Corner coal projects in the Galilee Basin.

“This will deliver significant benefits for regional communities by reducing the impact on agricultural land and the natural environment,” GVK and Aurizon said.

The companies said under the proposed arrangement Aurizon would invest through upfront consideration at the completion of the transaction and deferred consideration at financial close at each phase of the projects.

The proposed rail solution means that for an initial stage, only 300km of the 500km of new corridor and track under the original GVK Hancock proposal will be constructed before connecting into existing Aurizon infrastructure.

“This will also allow a phased development at the Abbot Point T3 terminal to match volumes and ramp-up, thereby materially reducing the initial cost of infrastructure,” the companies stated.

The southern rail connection will be built to narrow-gauge specification, carrying up to 25,000 tonne trains.

There is also an option to add a full greenfield line if increased tonnage needs to be added.

GVK chairman Dr G V Krishna Reddy said he is pleased with the deal’s progress.

“This milestone symbolises our common vision and I look forward to progressing this historic infrastructure development together with Aurizon,” he said.

Aurizon managing director and chief executive Lance Hockridge said a lot of work has been completed by both companies in recent months to outline the project’s scope of works.

“There’s been considerable work by both parties over recent months to better define the rail transport solution for the project, both from an engineering and a commercial perspective,” he said.

“We can see from our assessment that GVK Hancock’s coal assets are very well advanced.”

He explained the project aligns with the Queensland government’s plan to open up the Galilee Basin.

“We’re pleased this also aligns with government objectives – getting early tonnes out of the Galilee, at lower cost by tapping into existing infrastructure and consolidating tonnages onto a common corridor,” Hockridge said.

“This work not only brings us a step closer to jointly providing the primary rail and port solution for the Galilee, it brings the whole region a step closer to realising the benefits of one of the largest regional development opportunities this state has seen for decades.”

Over the next few months the companies will be developing a plan to build the infrastructure.

The proposal remains non-binding and will be subject to board approvals, with further due diligence to be undertaken before legal documents are drafted.

TasRail sign deal to transport Venture’s iron ore

TasRail has inked a deal which will see it transport iron ore from Venture Minerals Riley Creek Mine in Tasmania’s Tarkine region.
The announcement comes after a court challenge by environmentalists to halt mine’s development was dismissed last week.
Venture Minerals said it expects to begin work at the site in coming weeks.

TasRail will provide train services on the existing Melba Line, transporting ore through to the Burnie Port where the company will store it and provide ship loading services.

TasRail chief Damien White said the deal represents development opportunities for both companies.

“TasRail is the operator of critical economic freight infrastructure in Tasmania that is an enabler for existing and new major industries, and is well placed to provide high tonnage base load haulage for new mines,” White said.

“As TasRail owns and operates Tasmania’s only open access bulk ship loader facility at Burnie, the capacity to provide a vertically integrated bulk service for Venture, and support the development og jobs in the North-West region of Tasmania is a win-win.”

Tasmania’s Resources Minister Bryan Green has previously said the mine will contribute $40 million a year to the state’s economy.

The project is set to employ 60 people and run for two years.

Rail productivity reform on the agenda

Following the recent Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreement to progress national rail safety regulation, the National Transport Commission (NTC) has now outlined what it calls “an ambitious national reform agenda for rail productivity”.
NTC chief executive Nick Dimopoulos said further reform is essential to ensure rail plays its part in servicing the growing land freight task safely and sustainably.
“Freight customers want a rail option that better meets their needs,” he said. “While the review focused on freight rail productivity, it found that we can improve national policies and planning so all transport modes work smarter together and compete on their own merits.
“A focus on productivity reform will deliver a growing rail freight system, with better track speeds, quicker transit times, higher axle weights, improved service and reliability.
“The end result will be more competitive exports and lower cost products on supermarket shelves.”
Key recommendations of NTC’s Freight Rail Productivity Review include:
  • Clear national objectives and policies to plan and develop the right infrastructure;
  • Certainty and transparency of government subsidies to rail;
  • Explore options for more nationally consistent rail pricing and access regulation;
  • Open access regulation for key strategically-located rail terminals;
  • Long-term pricing reform so truck charges do not unfairly disadvantage rail;
  • Industry-led coordination of freight movements along the supply chain; and
  • Better performance measures for rail.
Mr Dimopoulos said the recommendations are consistent with the findings of the intermodal, grain, coal, livestock and meat supply chain reviews completed earlier this year.* NTC will work closely with all governments to progress the reform recommendations.
The review is the result of broad consultation with the rail industry, their customers, unions and governments.
You can download the final report here: Freight Rail Productivity Review Final Position Paper.
* NTC completed the supply chain pilots on behalf of the Capacity Constraints & Supply Chain Working Group led by South Australia (National Transport Policy Framework). More information is available here.

A small loop in the big rail picture completed

The modernisation of the Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane rail corridor continues slowly with the upgrade of a major passing loop at Killawarra in northern NSW now completed.
This project was brought forward thanks to funding from the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) and the Federal Government’s Economic Stimulus Package.
Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Anthony Albanese, said: “As well as supporting jobs and businesses during the current global recession, our economic stimulus package is putting in place the modern rail infrastructure vital to Australia’s long term prosperity,” said Mr Albanese.
The upgrade to the Killawarra passing loop involved replacing one of the existing ‘turnouts’ to allow for an entry speed of 50kph as well as some track realignment.
ARTC Chief Executive Officer David Marchant said the $1.4 million upgrade builds on work already completed on the North Coast and will result in increased capacity and shorter transit times between Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.
“The ARTC and the Federal Government are pushing forward with the upgrade of the Brisbane-Sydney-Melbourne corridor to make rail more competitive,” said Mr Marchant.
“The upgrade of the Killawarra passing loop is another important milestone in the north-south strategy to cut transit times from Melbourne to Sydney by 20 per cent (up to 2 hours 50 minutes) and by almost 20 per cent (3 hours 50 minutes) between Sydney and Brisbane.
“The work currently underway on this vital rail corridor is part of the biggest rail project to be initiated since the track was originally laid more than a century ago.”
The ARTC partnered with TEJV to deliver the upgrade.

Rail freight record broken

SCT Logistics has achieved a record in the Australian rail industry, with a 6,000-tonne freight train leaving Parkes (NSW) for Perth.

A general freight train departed from Parkes NSW destined for Perth WA with a trailing weight of 6,000 tonnes, a feat never before achieved for a general freight train on the defined interstate rail network. To understand the scale of this, in comparison it would take 87 B-Double trucks to move an equivalent amount of freight via road.

This achievement was made possible due to the combination of recently-purchased 4,500-horse power AC locomotives as well as the company’s ability to mix and blend its freight trains to achieve the most efficient outcome possible.

SCT Logistics has made a significant investment in the vicinity of $100 million dollars in its own locomotives. In 2003 SCT logistics embarked on a three-year project to introduce a state of the art locomotive fleet, manufactured locally by EDI Downer Limited into its business that was more efficient and environmentally friendly than those of their interstate rail competitors.

CEO of SCT logistics Geoff Smith said “SCT Logistics is delighted at realising our objective of operating the largest and most environmentally friendly general freight trains in Australia, and would now expect to achieve this result for all of SCT Logistics rail services as the new locomotives are deployed.

“The general interstate rail network, particularly the performance and reputation of the east-west corridor unfortunately has been battered over the past 12 months”, said Smith.

“Track access and other operating cost increases as well as an unprecedented year of track closures has put pressure on margins and damaged the commercial reputation of rail to the point where much of the focus for the rail industry and operators seems to have shifted to the bulk commodity boom where returns on investment are considerably more consistent and commercially attractive.

“We are delighted to promote more positive news, and a 6,000 tonne general freight train is quite an achievement and another milestone that SCT Logistics is very proud of.”

Toll finally bails out of NZ rail

Logistics solutions provider Toll Holdings has announced the completion of the sale of its New Zealand rail and ferry operations to the New Zealand Crown.

Toll managing director Paul little said the transaction, which was announced in May this year, has now been finalised and the transition arrangements were well progressed.

“We remain absolutely committed to the development of our remaining logistics operations in New Zealand, which have recently been enhanced by the acquisition of United Carriers,” he said.

The company is seeking additional New Zealand-based acquisitions to extend the scale and reach of the ongoing operations, with one of its focuses put on rail.  

Mr Little said the company believes rail can be a long-term sustainable business with the Government aiming at increasing the use of rail as freight flows continue to grow.

“We recognise the efforts of the entire workforce in significantly improving the business over the past four years, and positioning rail as the most efficient modal alternative for future transport demand throughout the country,” he said.

According to Mr Little, cash proceed from the sale of equity in the operation of NZD 690 million will be used to retire debt as well as increasing the company’s cash reserves.

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