Freight Australia

Freight Australia

Freight Australia was a railway company in Australia. Initially known as Freight Victoria, it operated rail freight services and controlled non-urban rail track in the state of Victoria, later expanding into freight haulage in other states. Freight Australia was taken over by Pacific National in 2004.

Background

V/Line formerly had a freight division, known as V/Line Freight. Under the Kennett Liberal government, V/Line was split up into two separate divisions on July 1 1997: V/Line Passenger and V/Line Freight, separate companies with little relationship and separate management to each other.cite journal
author = Peter Attenborough
year = 2004
month = June
title = Freight Australia
journal = Australian Model Railway Magazine
volume = 21
issue = 9
pages = 24–27
] When V/Line was privatised in 1999, the passenger and freight divisions were privatised separately.

Inception

The company was formed in March 1999 when the Freight Victoria consortium led by RailAmerica, acquired the Victorian Government owned V/Line Freight business for AUS$163 million. [http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-53924910.html Business Wire: 'RailAmerica Backed Freight Victoria Consortium Wins Australian V/Line Freight Bid' - 2/22/1999] ] The consortium also consisted of Fluor Daniel, an infrastructure maintenance and engineering firm based in San Francisco, merchant bank and financial services group Macquarie Bank, and rolling stock builder Goninan. [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1215/is_3_200/ai_54211459 Railway Age: 'Railamerica Wins In Australia - Freight Victoria consortium led by RailAmerica Inc. acquires V/Line Freight' - March 1999] ]

The sale included the purchase of 107 locomotives and more than 2,800 freight wagons, maintenance centres at South Dynon, Geelong, Portland and Wodonga, [ [http://www.cpa.org.au/garchive/948rail.htm The Guardian: "RailAmerica buys V/Line Freight" - April 7, 1999] ] as well as a 45 year lease (in renewable 15 year leases) on 4,756 km of broad gauge intra-state track in regional Victoria. A green and yellow livery was adopted for rolling stock. The company commenced operations on May 1 1999.

Expansion

Regular broad gauge trains in Victoria carried logs sourced from Gippsland, paper products from Maryvale, gravel trains from Kilmore East, as well as general freight to and from Wodonga, Tocumwal, Shepparton, Swan Hill, Bendigo, Boort, Echuca, Deniliquin, Mildura, Warrnambool and Geelong. Grain trains also operated throughout the state as required. Freight Victoria also operated standard gauge trains inside Victoria to Wodonga and Dimboola.

Freight Victoria soon begun gaining contracts outside Victoria, taking advantage of open competition policies set out in the National Competition Policy, which included third party rail access to state owned networks. On March 1 2000 the company was renamed to Freight Australia, the following month the company commenced hauling export grain in southern New South Wales, and by the end of 2000 was hauling the Specialised Container Transport train from Melbourne to Perth.

Further interstate contracts followed:
* Fuel: from Sandown in Sydney to West Tamworth, Dubbo, and Canberra.
* Domestic grain: to Weston Milling in Sydney from throughout NSW.
* Export grain: from the NSW Riverina to Port Kembla, or Appleton Dock Melbourne.
* Friskies: grain transported to a pet food processing plant in Blayney, from the central-west of NSW.
* Logs: spasmodic traffic from Canberra to Port Kembla.
* Cement: Berrima to Melbourne.

Demise

Moves for the sale of Freight Australia commenced in December 2003, with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) scrutinising the sale, fearing that Pacific National would create a rail and freight monopoly if it wins control of the operator. At the time other possible buyers included Queensland Rail, Australian Railroad Group, and merchant bank Babcock & Brown. [ [http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/12/07/1070732069840.html Sydney Morning Herald: 'Freight sector frets about Pacific National bid' - December 8, 2003] ]

In late March 2004 Rail America announced the sale of Freight Australia to Pacific National subject to government and regulatory approval. On July 2 2004 the ACCC announced it would not oppose the acquisition, [ [http://www.accc.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/552685/fromItemId/621419 ACCC Media Release - ACCC not to oppose Freight Australia acquisition] ] and on August 16, 2004 the Victorian Government approved the transfer of the Freight Australia infrastructure lease to Pacific National, who paid AUD$285 million for the business. [ [http://www.dtf.vic.gov.au/domino/Web_Notes/newmedia.nsf/bc348d5912436a9cca256cfc0082d800/25b34b5ba91de0cfca256ef2007ae470!OpenDocument Media Release: OFFICE OF THE TREASURER, MINISTER FOR PUBLIC TRANSPORT - "REGIONAL RAIL SET TO GROW WITH FREIGHT AUSTRALIA TRANSFER AGREED" - August 16, 2004] ]

References


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