The sale of ARIZON INTERMODIAL to pacific national has all but signalled the failure of privatisation in Qld.
All arizon wanted was the coal network and took a long term way to achieve it. the rest of the sale[workshops ,mainline and other parts of the business] were disposable.
There will be some people now coming on here to argue the opposite ,but in hindsight that is what happened.
I'm going to interject here because I think you are putting 2 and 2 together and getting 10.
I'm not sure what hindsight you are leading too. Prior to selling off Aurizon, it had expanded interstate, but never seriously took on PN as it doesn't have the supporting logistics chain behind it and never will. The smaller players that have come and gone have similar issues, hence why grain was a natural target, containers less so.
Opening up the railways to 3rd party operators was never a bad thing as the govt railways had more than their fair share of issues including poor customer service, poor reliability and slow to accept new technology. Over the years I've had business with a number of sites that used to use rail and much to my amazement not one of them said they wanted rail back (with one exception), trucking was far easier. The exception being CQ Petroleum which preferred rail over truck, which said govt owned QR had planned to close the CQ diesel services as they refused to fund the Gladstone port facility upgrade.
At the time way back in the early 2000's when open access was announced, I have it on good authority via another project I was working on that no small rail operators were interested in operating in Qld while QR was both track owner and above rail operator. ie we were talking with Rail Victoria/Australia about picking up a contract as QR wasn't interested. They indicated that they and other smaller players were keen on Qld and this project was a healthy tonnage for them but needed a bigger operator to go first to test the water.
As Aurizon was the former QR and much of the practices and management went with it, yes they stuck with what they knew. One commodity making up roughly 90% of their traffic with about 10% of the effort. The coal growth was delivering far more tonnes without trying compared to the effort for boxes.
Many of the former QR workshops were relics of the govt era based on branch lines and local traffic and no longer needed in a modern more streamline operation, hence once unchained from govt interference they followed their natural destiny and closed. The same rationalization occurred elsewhere south of the border. For example why does Rockhampton workshops need to be retained? Its no longer a hub, barely even a junction! Its just a terminus station for one daily passenger train and location source for some inter-modal traffic and track maintenance. No more swapping locos etc etc.
Back to the original statement, Is Qld Rail privatisation a failure? No, not entirely. In the early 90's the then Qld govt tried to close most of what eventually closed anyway 20 years later and was also proposed to be closed by ANR in the early 70's had the fed been successful in forming a National Railway as planned by Goff Whitlam, Qld just delayed the inevitable which enable us from the south to enjoy Querky Rail's mixed services decades after they ceased in the south.
Australia wide what was a failure of rail privatisation was selling the tracks, Qld didn't go down this path however I believe Anna Bligh did try to hive off the NCL and Mt Isa lines to the Feds at one stage, but the ARTC seems to have a phobia against NG as hey also said no for Tassie.
Also what has proven a failure of ideology was the belief that opening up rail access would see hand full or more operators start up (yes I also remember when this BS proposal was announced for Tassie), of note its also proven a failure in the skys as well, 25 years after removing the Air Duopoly we still have a Air Duopoly, probably more so today than before!
Question, you have a choice to buy a rail business, but only one, which would you choose?
1) QR Coal
2) QR Inter-modal
Yep, I think most of us agree.