Monday, July 5, 2010

Queensland Rail Transformation Hots Up Freight War

Huge Tonnages Promote Competition
Shipping News Feature

AUSTRALIA – Few industries illustrate the enormous quantities of freight which shipping groups are required to move in a year better than the coal industry and the railcars required to haul it from mine to port. Now that Queensland Rail has officially split in two (as of 1 July 2010 QR has separated into two companies, Queensland Rail (GOC) and QR National -Government Sale Asset.) the freight arm, QR National are jockeying for a favourable position in the market, not least for their now 9,000 employees whose company is due to move into private hands shortly, a policy fraught with problems as our article last month showed.

With Asciano raging against the sell off, pointing out that a privatised track owner is likely to favour their own traffic above that of direct competitors, QR National have apparently been on best behaviour lately in order to impress clients, both current and possible future. Currently all eyes are focused on the 5 million tonnes plus of coal which is due to travel by rail freight from the Queensland Coal Mine management pits at Jellinbah and Lake Vermont when both are at full production and the Northern ‘Missing Link’ rail line is completed.

QR have traditionally freighted for Jellinbah Resources, a Queensland Coal subsidiary, for over 20 years, shipping the coal from the Jellinbah East mines to the Port of Gladstone. QR National have now formally announced a new 10 year contract to secure rail freight operations from the facilities described as ‘more commercial than previously’ by a spokesman who also asserted the company had performed ‘better than ever before’ recently and that they would continue to haul coal from the Hunter coal facility to the port of Newcastle.

Apparently the rhetoric has not impressed the Minister of Transport Rachel Nolan who reportedly described the new contract into Gladstone as ‘a bit thin’ before she reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to float the company on the market ‘before the year’s end’.

Photo: Boonal Train Loading Facility courtesy of Jellinbah Resources.