AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Pass on cost savings from Sydney-Melbourne rail upgrade: ARTC

<p>The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) is asking train operators to pass on some of the productivity gains from imminent track improvements to the Sydney-Melbourne rail route.</p> <p>On Friday, ARTC signed an agreement with the Australian Rail Consortium &#8211 led by John Holland MVM Rail and O’Donnell Griffin &#8211 for $560m worth of upgrade work to the line between Australia’s two biggest cities.</p> <p>As part of those improvements, train operators will be able to increase train length on the route from 1,500 metres to 1,800 metres, ARTC chief executive David Marchant said.</p> <p>"We would like the train operators to pass on those productivity gains [going from 1,500 metres to 1,800 metres&#93," Mr Marchant said.</p> <p>ARTC is still in discussion with operators about passing some of those savings on, he said.</p> <p>Train operators will save at least 8% on present costs with the shorter running times &#8211 from 13 hr 10 min to 10 hr and 40 min (1,500 metre trains) and 11 hr and 30 min (1,800 metre trains) &#8211 and fuel savings, he said.</p> <p>Works will include 220 km of new passing loops, revamped track infrastructure and modernised signalling systems.</p> <p>The upgrade will create additional capacity on the line and that could give rise to greater competition on the route &#8211 if anyone can afford it.</p> <p>"All the opportunity is there for people who can afford to enter the market," Mr Marchant said.</p> <p>"New entrants will need to be very well cashed up."</p> <p>Finding sufficient terminal space in either Sydney of Melbourne to put an 1,800 metre train was "a big problem", he said.</p> <p>With the time and cost savings to train operators, ARTC is hopeful that rail can increase its share of the Sydney-Melbourne freight market from the present 11% to around 30% when the works are completed in about four years time.</p> <p>The upgrade is being planned to minimise disruption to present services.</p> <p>However, the industry would benefit from the building of additional capacity as the works progressed, he said. </p> <br />