AusRAIL, Market Sectors

New CEO for TasRail, new funding for Tasmania?s rail

<span class="" id="parent-fieldname-description"> Former Pacific National east-west general manager Damien White is the new chief executive of Tasmanian Railway (TasRail). </span> <p>By Rob McKay and Jennifer Perry</p><p>The announcement, effective from April 26th, comes after a nationwide executive search which began last December after the government-owned vertically integrated rail-freight operator was formed, following last year’s purchase of PN’s Tasmanian operations.<br />“[TasRail] . . . faces a number of challenges and the board is confident that Mr White has the knowledge, skills and drive to assist our company to meet those challenges in the months and years ahead,” chairman Bob Annells said.<br />White has reportedly said his target was to attract 5m tonnes of freight on to rail annually. <br />TasRail has also revealed a wishlist for state and federal governments, saying its proposed investment program was designed to address TasRail’s current safety and reliability issues by directing funding into:<br />&bull general track upgrading – much of the rail and sleepers are life-expired, and little improvement work has been carried out on other critical infrastructure such as the track formation, culverts, drainage systems, etc<br />&bull new locomotives – almost all of the current fleet is more than 30 years old. There is a lack of compatibility across the fleet which affects the efficiency and flexibility of TasRail’s operations<br />&bull TasRail inherited many different and incompatible wagons from the mainland, the result of which is an operation that requires significant additional shunting, has restricted payload issues, and has inherent safety issues which need to be managed<br />&bull modern train control system – the current system relies almost totally on human interfaces and manual procedures, and in today’s environment is considered to rely excessively on these administrative safety controls<br />&bull upgraded workshop equipment will enable TasRail to increase the throughput of its maintenance activities and reduce maintenance costs.</p><p><strong>New funding<br /></strong>The Federal Government announced $169m for Tasmania’s road and rail infrastructure in the 2010/11 Budget.<br />Tasmania’s minister for infrastructure Lara Giddings said the funding will enable work to continue on rail projects worth more than $100m, including upgrades at Rhyndaston, the Burnie to western junction line, the Hobart to western junction line and the west coast line.<br />Giddings said the government will continue to work with the Commonwealth to secure funding to enable future projects to come on line, as existing works are completed.<br />“The state government has already begun discussions with the Commonwealth on a number of significant infrastructure projects, and I look forward to continuing that dialogue,” she said.<br />The Tasmanian Rail rescue package will be completed 12 months early (2010-2011) following the Federal Government’s decision to bring forward $14m of funding.<br />&nbsp</p>