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New tank too tough for FreightLink, too heavy for NT road bridges

<p>It has been admitted that Australia’s new tank cannot yet be taken by train to Darwin.</p> <p>The Abrams battle tank, 18 of which arrived in arrived in Australia on Friday (September 22), weighs in at 68 tonnes</p> <p>But Adelaide-Darwin rail link operator FreightLink has said it lacks the equipment to carry them, the <em>Australian</em> reported at the weekend.</p> <p>"FreightLink has participated in a rail study with the implication for new rolling stock to be acquired," the company said.</p> <p>Added to the difficulty, Northern Territory road bridges could not stand the pressure, a senior NT shire engineer, was quoted as saying.</p> <p>The army has used the strategic rail link since 2004 for rapid south-north transport of its tanks and armoured car units in preparation for exercises.</p> <p>In his statement on Friday, Dr Nelson said: &#8220We will have a number of options for transporting these tanks, including: our new C-17 heavy airlift aircraft amphibious ships the Adelaide-Darwin rail network and our new tank transporter trucks.&#8221</p> <p>A spokesman for defence minister Brendan Nelson told <em>Lloyd’s List DCN</em> today (Monday, September 25) that the first 18 of the 59-tank consignment were destined for Puckapunyal in Victoria and a decision on the rest, whether they were shipped directly to Darwin or elsewhere, had not been made. </p> <p>Along with the tanks, Australia has bought seven M88A2 Hercules armoured recovery vehicles, 14 heavy tank transporters, eight refueling trucks, six advanced gunnery training simulators and one tank driver trainer simulator.</p> <p>&#8220Australian industry is playing a key role in delivering this capability,&#8221 Dr Nelson said. </p> <p>&#8220The prime contractor for the heavy tank transporter is MAN Military Vehicle Systems Australia. Drake Trailers, an Australian-owned and operated Brisbane-based company, is manufacturing 14 swing-wing trailers. Brisbane-based MAN Automotive Imports is making final modifications, conducting compliance testing and will manage the ongoing repair and maintenance support.&#8221</p> <p>The minister’s office was preparing a clarification of the transport issue today. </p> <br />