AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Northline jilts FreightLink for truckies

<p>FreightLink will lose 60,000 tonnes a year of business from the Adelaide-Darwin rail line after Northline Freight Management opted to return freight to road.</p> <p>Northline was one of FreightLink’s key initial customers, signing up with 80,000 tonnes a year of freight when the rail line started in January 2004.</p> <p>The company’s South Australia manager, Bruce Hampson, said the freight forwarding business had decided to go back to road to provide more tailored deals for customers.</p> <p>It was important to have flexibility to be able to control freight arrival times, he said.</p> <p>"Certainly the arrival time was important," Mr Hampson told <em>Lloyd’s List DCN</em> . "We have people employed to handle the freight and we don’t want them standing around all day."</p> <p>There wasn’t much point waiting until 11 pm for the train to arrive if the freight was ready at 10 am, he said.</p> <p>And trucking was also better suited for "milk run" type deliveries, particularly in areas such as Tennant Creek and Katherine, he said.</p> <p>However, Northline will continue to use rail for more appropriate freight, such as non-time-sensitive cargo and some full container loads. This will amount to about 15-20% [20,000 tonnes&#93 of the company’s cargo on the corridor.</p> <p>"We accept that there is something we are trying to achieve that they [FreightLink&#93 cannot control," Mr Hampson said.</p> <p>"We don’t see that they could come up with more services to suit us. There are some customers that we want to provide a particular service to." </p> <p>The issue of cost also played a part in the decision, after FreightLink increased its freight costs by about 15% in October 2004, he said.</p> <p>"We have been looking at the real door-to-door costs, not just FreightLink’s charge," Mr Hampson said. "That’s just one part it."</p> <p>Despite Northline’s decision, rail still has a role to play on the corridor, he said. </p> <br />