Could other operators with different cost structures and contracts with customers make profitable use of these locosIn theory, probably.
In reality, no. PN own them, and PN don't like to share.
Its not about sharing, its about not allowing competition....
IMO, this was a failure of the privatisation process and better safeguards should have been written into the privatisation contracts to prevent this potential issue arising.
This question comes up often in these pages. There is only one opportunity to 'share' locomotives and that occurs when the Government Railway is sold. Once the railway is sold the new owner owns all the assets and they can do what they like with them.
At the time of the sale some of the locomotives could have been held back in Government ownership. BUT, this would have reduced the sale price and the spare locomotives available to a competitor would have further devalued the sale.
Should the sale result in a monopoly being formed, or a lessening of competition, the ACCC can apply conditions to the sale, as happened with split up of VR's G class fleet.
I agree with your sentiments though. It is a sad reflection on the dog in the manger approach to business in the rail industry.
Some more enlightened businesses would say, "I can't make money on this task, but if I rent some surplus locomotives to someone who can I too can share in the revenue".
Other more way out ideas are to pool locos and crews across districts. All too hard for us but it happens in other countries.