Staff Writer

Walhalla Goldfields Railway into paydirt

<p>The opening of the Walhalla Goldfields Railway extension last week is expected to boost tourism in the Latrobe Valley area.</p> <p>Victorian premier Steve Bracks joined former deputy prime minister Tim Fischer in driving a golden dogspike into the line to mark the completion of the 1.4-km Happy Creek extension.</p> <p>The project included the completion of six bridges. Services have begun and tourists can now travel by train from Thomson Station to Walhalla.</p> <p>The Victorian Government provided $1m for the extension as part of its plan to revitalise the region.</p> <br />

WA rail route being considered

<p>Route options for the Perth-Mandurah rail link have been released for public comment.</p> <p>Western Australians are being given a say in deciding the route through central Perth for the faster direct connection to Mandurah.</p> <p>The report of the Perth City Rail Advisory Committee offers three route options for bringing the new railway from the Narrows Bridge to the city centre and linking it with the Joondalup line.</p> <p>Eastern, western and central options were all put forward, but the State Government ruled out the eastern option because of its cost.</p> <p>The public has been given a month to comment on the remaining two routes and the government will make its decision in early April.</p> <br />

Pacific National launched

<p>The National Rail Consortium will call its new merged major rail operation Pacific National.</p> <p>Pacific National will be the operating name for the combined rail businesses of Toll, Patrick, FreightCorp and National Rail.</p> <p>Toll and Patrick bought FreightCorp and National Rail last month and are now working on bringing all the rail operations together in the most effective manner.</p> <br />

Parramatta Rail Link back on track

<p>Planning approval has been granted for the construction and operation of the 28-km Parramatta Rail Link.</p> <p>Attached to the approval are more than 260 conditions designed to protect local communities and the environment.</p> <p>Changes to the original plan follow public consultation and include increased noise mitigation and a tunnel under the Lane Cover River instead of a bridge.</p> <p>Around 5 km of higher standard noise mitigation treatment, incorporating 2.5 km of &#8220floating slab&#8221 noise treatment, will now be part of the project.</p> <br />

CORE 2002 coming up

<p>The rail industry’s engineering conference, CORE 2002, will be held in Wollongong in November.</p> <p>This year the conference’s theme is cost-efficient railways through engineering.</p> <p>Over 400 delegates are expected to attend the event and over 45 suppliers will display the latest technological developments. </p> <p>More than 55 papers will be presented covering risk management, trackside monitoring systems, rollingstock design and fast rail.</p> <p>New York City Transit Authority vice president Mysore Nagaraja is the keynote speaker.</p> <p>The conference is being hosted by the Railway Technical Society of Australasia and the Rail Track Association of Australia.</p> <br />

Union unveils public transport plan

<p>The Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) launched a plan for public transport in Australia earlier today (March 12).</p> <p><em>Rail and Urban Public Transport &#8211 A New Policy for a New Century </em> criticises the Federal Government’s approach to this issue and suggests new ways of promoting and assisting passenger transport.</p> <p>RTBU national secretary Roger Jowett said the booklet &#8220puts community objectives ahead of the dogma of market solutions".</p> <p>The ACTU and Australian Conservation Foundation have thrown their support behind the public transport plan.</p> <br />

Chinese freight market now open to foreign players

<p>China will allow foreign companies to enter joint ventures in the domestic railway cargo market from this year as a first step toward the total opening up of the business.</p> <p>After five decades of a tightly controlled monopoly, the Ministry Of Railways made its first profit in 1999, then earned $60m in 2000. </p> <p>Despite the better figures, the railway’s iron grip on transport has been under attack with the opening of highways and new airports.</p> <p>The plan follows China’s promise to open the market to foreign companies after joining the World Trade Organization. </p> <p>For the first two years, foreigners will only be afforded a minority share, then they can do majority share deals from 2004.</p> <p>For foreign transport companies, the new rules are of interest in general breakbulk cargo areas such as depots, space chartering and transport ventures.</p> <br />

QR bogie deal for EDI and Bombardier

<p>QR has awarded a $4.9m rollingstock upgrade contract to EDI Rail Bombardier.</p> <p>The contract is for the upgrade of two sets of bogies for two locomotives. The work is designed to help the rail operator cater for increased coal haulage.</p> <p>Further contracts are expected to be awarded as QR converts more of its 3900-class electric locomotives for coal haulage.</p> <p>Assembly work on the bogies will take place at EDI’s Maryborough plant. </p> <p>The upgrade is expected to be complete by late this year.</p> <br />

First Alice-Darwin loco being delivered

<p>Another milestone on the Alice-to-Darwin rail project will be reached on Thursday (March 14) when the first Australia Southern Railroad (ASR) locomotive for use on the construction trains is delivered to the work site at Katherine.</p> <p>Eight locomotives will be used on the construction trains, with four based at Tennant Creek and four at Katherine.</p> <p>The first locomotive, named <em>Katherine</em> , arrived at the project railhead in Roe Creek yesterday and was transferred to a specially modified road semi-trailer for the 1,200-km road journey to Katherine.</p> <p>Slingshot Haulage, which also has the contract for moving the project rails, is handling the transportation of the 115-tonne locomotive.</p> <p>Other locomotives will be moved from Port Augusta to Roe Creek two at a time at roughly weekly intervals. </p> <p>The onward road journey will take around two and a halfdays to Katherine and one day to Tennant Creek.</p> <p>EDI Rail has overhauled and painted the locomotives for around $1m each.</p> <br />

QR moves into NSW with Northern Rivers Railroad buy

<p>QR has taken the first step to become a national operator with the acquisition of the freight assets and business of Northern Rivers Railroad (NRR).</p> <p>The Casino-based NRR gives QR entry into the New South Wales market for the first time.</p> <p>QR made the purchase through its new wholly-owned subsidiary QR National and will run the rail company under the name Interail.</p> <p>The Queensland company has been eager to expand interstate for years.</p> <p>QR chairman Bronwyn Morris said: &#8220Rail is a national market and while other rail organisations can now compete for our customers up here, we need to be able to do the same in southern states. </p> <p>"That is the only way we will grow our business.</p> <p>&#8220For more than two years, QR has been prevented by interstate governments from bidding either on our own or in consortiums for some of Australia’s biggest rail assets. </p> <p>"The recent sale of National Rail and FreightCorp was the latest example. With that sort of ‘level’ playing field we have had to think creatively.&#8221</p> <p>Of the Interail operation, she said: &#8220It is a low-cost, low-risk Virgin Airlines-type entry to what we believe will be some very lucrative new markets.&#8221</p> <p>The sale does not include NRR’s tourist train service.</p> <br />