AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Rescue package drawn up for Tasmanian rail system

<p>The Commonwealth and Tasmanian Governments have reached an agreed position on the details of a rescue package designed to keep freight trains running on the Hobart-Launceston-Burnie line for at least the next 10 years.</p> <p>A week ago, the Federal Government said that it was willing to provide almost $87m in capital funding to help ensure ongoing rail operations in Tasmania.</p> <p>Federal transport minister Warren Truss said the offer was part of a proposed three-way rescue package with the Tasmanian Government and Pacific National.</p> <p>Tasmanian infrastructure minister Bryan Green said the agreement confirmed Tasmania’s road funding position under the recently signed AusLink deal and offered a generous contribution by both governments to the state’s rail system. </p> <p>Mr Green also said that it was now a matter for Pacific National to respond to this offer at its next board meeting (today, Monday, December 19).</p> <p>Under the rescue plan, Pacific National, which owns the Tasmanian track, passes ownership to the Tasmanian Government at no cost to the State Government. </p> <p>The Tasmanian Government may, in turn, invite the Australian Rail Track Corporation to assist in the management of the rail line on a fee-for-service basis.</p> <p>The Tasmanian Government, as track owner, establishes an access regime open to any company or group wanting to run trains in Tasmania, not just Pacific National, and puts this arrangement in place no later than June 30, 2006.</p> <p>Pacific National commits to providing a non-bulk rail freight service for 10 years and upgrades its locomotives and rolling stock within three years.</p> <p>The Federal Government will provide capital funding for upgrading the railway line at a cost of $78m over 10 years.</p> <p>The Tasmanian Government will fund maintenance costs estimated at $4m a year plus any fees to the ARTC, to ensure the line is kept in good repair. </p> <p>This cost will be offset by any amount recovered from access fees paid by track users. </p> <p>Tasmania would need to consider the fact that Pacific National had gifted the track in setting access fees, Mr Truss said.</p> <p>Pacific National’s contribution will be at least $38m, to be provided within three years, for rolling stock replacements and improvements.</p> <p>In addition to the $78m, the Federal Government is offering, it is prepared to consider a $3.75m contribution towards the cost of an expanded road and rail intermodal terminal at the port of Launceston, Bell Bay.</p> <p>The Federal Government is also willing to consider contributing up to $5m towards a proposed intermodal terminal at Brighton, as long as the Tasmanian Government matches the grant.</p> <br />