AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Freight Australia grain and timber volumes hit results

<p>Freight Australia has put a dent in parent company RailAmerica’s international haulage volumes, with new figures showing Australian carloads fell 9.4% last year to 200,869 because of big drops in grain and timber haulage.</p> <p>RailAmerica’s Chile operations helped offset the poor Australian performance, with total international carloads down 2.5%.</p> <p>A drought-savaged grain harvest played havoc with Freight Australia’s volumes and carloads of agricultural and farm products fell 22.5% to 75,207.</p> <p>Timber and forest product carloads dropped 47.1% to 5,017.</p> <p>Paper, mineral and petroleum products each increased by about 15% and the company recorded a modest 1% rise in intermodal traffic to 83,331 carloads.</p> <p>The drought hit Freight Australia’s December haulage volumes particularly hard, with carloads falling 21.7% compared to the same month the previous year. </p> <p>This adds to the difficulties of the company, which has found the state’s open access regime unworkable.</p> <p>Talks are under way with the Victorian Government on access options, policies and operations.</p> <p>The Victorian transport minister, Peter Batchelor, hopes there will be an outcome by the middle of the year.</p> <p>He has already conceded that the government would be obliged to consider any offer from Freight Australia to transfer back its rail track network.</p> <br />