Victorian terminal operators back government on Freight Australia stance

<p>A group of Victorian intermodal operators have backed the State Government’s stance on renegotiating the track access regime as part of the Freight Australia sale.</p> <p>The Victorian Intermodal Freight Group told <em>Lloyd’s List DCN</em> that it wanted better on-rail competition than the present unworkable regime and urged the government to consider the issue carefully.</p> <p>"The Victorian Government should take its time and consult widely on this issue and not be panicked into a decision because Rail America wants to take its profit from the sale and run," the operators said.</p> <p>The group &#8211 which includes Wakefield Transport, Austrak, the CRT Group, Wimmera Container Lines, Gray’s Container Lines and West Vic Container Handling &#8211 said it didn’t care who owned the track lease, it simply wanted a workable access regime to ensure competition.</p> <p>They were concerned about conflicting interests with those of Pacific National’s parents, Toll and Patrick.</p> <p>"Their interest is securing freight from customers," the group stated.</p> <p>"We sit on land that they now control and are servicing customers that they would like to secure first-hand. The clash will be inevitable."</p> <p>In hindsight, the 1999 sale to RailAmerica was handled poorly, the group said.</p> <p>"Like much of Victoria’s privatisation under the Kennett Government, Rail America paid too much and reckoned they bought a monopoly," the operators said.</p> <p>Although the government did not sell a monopoly, Rail America was able to frustrate rail access seekers so that it ended up as one, they said.</p> <p>Pacific National was now paying $100m more than Rail America had because it expected a monopoly, the group said.</p> <p>It wanted the government to stick to its guns in adopting national competition policy and to sort the matter out now rather than "rush a sale and then slug it out in court after the event". </p> <br />