AusRAIL, Market Sectors

UK rail freight operator eyes Australian market

<p>UK rail freight operator Freightliner has signalled its intention to enter the Australian rail freight market.</p> <p>The company, which commands approximately 20% of the UK rail freight market with linkages to major container ports such as Felixstowe and Southampton, told <em>Lloyd’s List DCN’s </em> monthly publication <em>Rail Express</em> that Australia was among overseas opportunities that the company was looking at.</p> <p>The company has set up a temporary web page &#8211 www.freightlineraustralia.com.au &#8211 and searches revealed a holding company, registered in New South Wales, Freightliner Australia Pty Ltd. </p> <p>Two directors of the company were previously linked to the former New South Wales operator, Silverton Rail, while the third is confirmed as owner of the web site address. </p> <p><em>Rail Express</em> editor Mark Carter said it was still unclear how Freightliner intended to enter the Australian market. </p> <p>"It could choose to enter the market as a `greenfield’ operator, but this would be likely to have drawn more attention by now," he said. </p> <p>"Another alternative would be to fast track entry into the market through the purchase of an existing accredited rail operator, but with industry rationalisation of late, there are now limited opportunities for this approach.&#8221 </p> <p>Mr Carter said that while the dynamics of the UK market were quite different to those of the Australian market &#8211 shorter trains, shorter hauls and lower tonnages &#8211 Australian rail operators would need to take Freightliner’s potential entry into the market very seriously, especially given its expansion in the UK and its specialist expertise in intermodal and heavy haul traffic.</p> <p>Freightliner grew from the 1995 privatisation of the UK rail freight sector when the incumbent management team bought the fledgling intermodal business. </p> <p>It has expanded rapidly over the past decade and today produces an annual turnover of approximately $600m.</p> <p>Initially specialising in intermodal traffic, Freightliner has since moved into other areas, including the heavy haul of coal, aggregates and petroleum products. </p> <p>It has established its first overseas operation, Freightliner Poland, which recently took delivery of the first of seven new 2,250 kW locomotives for use on heavy coal hauls.</p> <p>Freightliner has not been afraid to invest in the business and over the past eight years has introduced 120 new 2,250 kW locomotives to the UK market, significantly more than any comparable motive power investment by any Australian operator over the same period.</p> <p>The April edition of <em>Rail Express, </em> to be published on Thursday, April 19, will have more news and analysis of this story.</p> <br />