It’s lock, stock, barrel and locos as Governmenttakes over rail

13/06/2018 Posted by admin

Infrastructure Minister Graeme SturgesTHE State Government looks set to take control of Tasmania’s rail network by the end of November, following two days of “intense” negotiations between the State Government and executives from Asciano, parent company of rail operator Pacific National. Infrastructure Minister Graeme Sturges announced yesterday afternoon that an agreement to transfer the rail network as a going concern – including the West Coast service – had been reached, but he added that the agreement was subject to approval by the Asciano board and State Cabinet by June 30. “Lock, stock and barrel and locos – this picks up all the rail operations in the state, workshops, the Burnie loader facilities,” Mr Sturges said. “We have been quite hard in our negotiations to ensure that nothing was left out and that we can guarantee a future for freight rail in Tasmania.” Until the agreement receives approval, Mr Sturges said he would not be drawn on how much the Government would pay for the network, or where it would get the money from. “Until such time as we can get that tick off, that next step in the process, it would be inappropriate of me to talk about the dollar amount … But I believe it is a very good deal,” he said. “I have been in contact with the Federal (Infrastructure) Minister and … he is very receptive to talk with the Tasmanian Government about the very generous funding commitment that’s on the table for rail in Tasmania, but it would be inappropriate of me to speculate as to what the outcome of that may be.” The Government’s plans for the state’s rail network are also unclear at this stage. “We haven’t purchased it yet, so let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves,” Mr Sturges said. “Let’s make sure that we today can give certainty to rail customers, to freight rail logistics customers, particularly – dare I say – the mining customers on the West Coast that rail will continue to operate. “We will require some form of capital investment in the rolling stock, but there will be a seamless transition and rail will continue to operate.” Asciano managing director Mark Rowsthorn said he was also pleased with the outcome of the negotiations. “An agreement with the Tasmanian Government will provide a seamless transition of our rail operations and ongoing security to our Pacific National employees, and will secure the future of freight rail in the state of Tasmania,” he said. Asciano had been unable to find a buyer for the rail network, which it offered for sale a year ago, and last week the company announced that it planned to close the West Coast’s Melba Line. The north-south line has been closed since mid-May following a serious derailment at Rhyndaston. “There is no disguising the fact that this situation has presented a difficult challenge for us, and I would like to pay tribute to the head of my department, Norm McIlfatrick, and his senior officers for their tireless efforts both before and during these negotiations,” Mr Sturges said.
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