Victoria to revamp track access rules: Batchelor

<p>The Victorian Government will revamp its track access regime to encourage greater on-rail competition and to strengthen ease of access to the state’s ports, transport minister Peter Batchelor said.</p> <p>The government’s stance comes in the wake of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) decision last week not to intervene in the sale of Freight Australia to rival Pacific National.</p> <p>Pacific National now only needs approval from the State Government &#8211 as it will take over Freight Australia’s 45-year track lease &#8211 to complete the sale.</p> <p>But Mr Batchelor said that "consistent with the ACCC’s conclusions" the government wanted to bring about greater competition in rail freight services.</p> <p>This means revising the present access arrangements that at present exist under Freight Australia in readiness for a new owner</p> <p>Reforms will be based on access principles that have worked in other jurisdictions, Mr Batchelor said.</p> <p>"The government is also mindful of the importance of rail access into the ports of Melbourne, Geelong and Portland and will ensure that access arrangements cater for freight forwarders that rely on these ports," Mr Batchelor said.</p> <p>The government said the present track lease arrangement with Freight Australia had proved "unworkable".</p> <p>"No other freight operator has been able to gain access to the tracks leased by Freight Australia to operate competing freight services," the Government said.</p> <p>However, Freight Australia’s present owner Rail America is said to have been angered by the Government’s stance on the track access issue.</p> <p>It is understood the US operator is contemplating legal action. </p> <br />