Rail race heats up as QR moves on CRT box operations

<p>In another major move towards rail consolidation, Queensland Rail is to buy Melbourne-based rail logistics and container operator CRT Group. </p> <p>QR already provides linehaul capacity between Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane for CRT, while CRT provides terminal facilities for QR at Altona in Melbourne. </p> <p>CRT also has an important specialisation in logistics and specialised equipment for food and polymer products. </p> <p>The move appears to be aimed at giving bulk-dominated QR a bolted-on container logistics capability. </p> <p>QR chief executive Bob Scheuber said CRT would be operated as a distinct entity within QR and other than the change of ownership, its focus would continue to be on its core operations. No changes in either the management team or the staffing levels in general are expected.</p> <p>"QR is now competing against aggressive and acquisitive organisations that are dedicated to massively increasing their rail freight assets around Australia", he said. </p> <p>QR recently increased its Brisbane&#47Melbourne container service from four to six times a week. </p> <p>The CRT purchase comes hard on the heels of Pacific National co-owner Patrick Corp’s move in March to buy another family-owned container rail forwarder with a reputation for innovation, FCL. </p> <p>The Australian Competition and Consumer Council, which is scrutinising the Patrick&#47FCL deal, has asked for more time for submissions, with a decision sometime after mid-July. </p> <p>The commission expressed concern that Patrick and Toll’s strong position in rail linehaul through Pacific National, could be used to close out FCL’s rival forwarders and discourage new entries. </p> <p>Patrick has replied that it would not make sense for PN to discriminate against other forwarders, or to risk driving users to road or alternative rail operators.</p> <p>Both purchases appear to herald greater vertical integration by rail operators and dominance by two or three major players. </p> <br />