AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Freight Australia lashes out at Victorian Government

<p>A furious Freight Australia has lashed out at the Victorian Government for the second time in a week after it released an industry consultation paper calling for input on the options for the state’s rail access regime.</p> <p>The ongoing dispute surrounding the sale of the rail operator to Pacific National is becoming increasingly ill-tempered as both the Victorian Government and the operator stand their ground over the state’s rail access regime.</p> <p>The government is under a two-pronged attack with Freight Australia’s owner RailAmerica lobbying members of Congress to attack the state over its behaviour in the sale process.</p> <p>RailAmerica is almost certain to sue the Victorian Government for claims of lost earnings that it believes could total up to $200m.</p> <p>"How can one blame a US company that was invited to come here by the state of Victoria," Freight Australia CEO Marinus van Onselen told <em>Lloyd’s List DCN</em> .</p> <p>"V&#47Line [Freight&#93 was such a basket case that there was not one person in Australia that considered bidding for it."</p> <p>Freight Australia has turned the operation into a profitable concern and reinvested every dollar earned from the track back into the network, he said.</p> <p>Mr van Onselen said state public officials and the politicians have stooped to a new low in "economically irresponsible" behaviour and had placed the sale transaction "in grave jeopardy".</p> <p>"It [the government&#93 seems to believe that infrastructure can be maintained and improved without anyone paying for it," he said.</p> <p>"Forget all this smokescreen about rail access &#8230 what is going on here is a deliberate attempt to turn back the clock and seize back an asset without paying for it."</p> <p>This "latest nonsense" was the present government’s fifth attempt to rewrite the rules on an access regime that it &#8211 and not the previous Kennett Government as claimed &#8211 had introduced, Mr van Onselen said.</p> <br />