Vic govt talking to new rail freight operator
1400 - Wednesday 12th December 2007
ABC News - http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/12/12/2116856.htm
The Victorian Transport Minister Lyn Kosky has moved to reassure grain farmers, as the state's biggest rail freight operator moves to pull out of the market.
Farmers say the decision by Pacific National's parent company, Asciano, could force more grain to be hauled by road, increasing costs.
The company says it can no longer sustain losses of $3-million a month.
Ms Kosky says the Government is investing heavily in fixing the rural rail network.
"We're obviously concerned about having grain travel by road, but our first priority is to improve the infrastructure. We need to make that investment."
The minister also dismissed criticism over a deal to buy back the rural rail lines. The Government paid Pacific National $134-million a year ago to take back the train lines.
The Opposition spokesman on Transport, Terry Mulder says the Government should have sought a guarantee from Pacific National, that it would continue to operate the lines until a new operator took on their business.
"This is an extraordinary situation, the fact that we have a rail line without an operator," he said.
The Transport Minister Lyn Kosky says the government is now talking to other operators.
"This is a commercial decision by Asciano. We do have another player in the market now, a small player, but we are talking to (the) Grain Corporation as well about the viability and sustainability of the market."