ARTC - 10 years in NSW

  M636C Minister for Railways

Since September 2004 the state of NSW has been effectively cut up and divided into three access providers - Sydney Trains, ARTC and John Holland.
Prior to September 2004 all access was provided by the one combined organisation Rail Infrastructure Corporation - what ARTC would call a one stop shop.

Now consider that prior to 2004 this would have been all done in the one place. Progress? No I don't think so.

But remember, it was the unified vertically integrated railway that gave us the collapsing infrastructure that ARTC has spent 3 billion correcting.

Go to Argentina and look at the Buenos Aires Pacific Railway. I recommend Rufino, a really nice little town with a preserved inside cylinder 0-6-0 saddle tank at the station.

There are no passenger trains now, track condition doesn't permit that. But the track is laid with the original 1905 100 lb/yd rail on wooden sleepers lost in the mud filled ballast. After heavy rain, the main line East to BA disappeared under a lake so trains were diverted to the North on connecting lines.

But Rufino is on the second longest stretch of straight track in the world (even if some is under water), sitting between the Nullarbor and Nyngan to Bourke in length.

There are a couple of Alco DL500 (44/930) units still working for the privatised operator. The favoured loco is the DL 540, basically a 45 class with 44 class bogies contained in a US Domestic RS-11 shell. The local mechanics like the extra room to work on the engines, and Alco engines from DL500S units imported from Spain are tranferred to the DL-540s to keep them going.

You can go to Argentina, or wait until the situation comes here, I guess....

While ARTC's expenditure has been sucked up by pre-existing conditions left by years of under- investment, I have to agree with Mark Carter that they over promised and under delivered.

But the operators have not shown much interest in developing new traffic or even holding on to old traffic. PN and Aurizon are engaged in a battle to the death to see who can poach more coal traffic from the other, while leaving agricultural products to others and to road transport.

Aurizon's focus on the Pilbara might prove to be a mirage rather than a gold mine. Marble Bar closed down some time ago..... FMG will do well to expand and survive with current ore prices and Roy Hill might have some lean times just getting into production.

And it is looking sad up and down the East Coast too.

But it never was ARTC's job to drum up traffic. That's what the operators are for...


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  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: North of the border!
... And after 10 years ARTC still haven't yet got any up to date TOC or RAS manuals in place.
Now consider that prior to 2004 this would have been all done in the one place. Progress? No I don't think so.

Manuals are important however more work has done in a decade on restoring and modernising the NSW DIRN than over the previous 50 years. Whilst not perfect it is progress in the context of ad-hoc funding, the widespread safety issues reported by OTSI and the need for ARTC to be commercially sustainable and drive down costs.

No progress by 2014 would be; Wagga Wagga Bridge another Menangle debacle, no SSFL, no CTC up north and maybe one or two new 1500m passing loops. A mishmash of steel, low profile concrete and wood sleepers with white painted rails, more WOLOs and derailments , the track west of Parkes all but useless. And even more mud-holes!
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

Judging by a rapidly diminishing share price thanks to its overexposure to the mining industry, Aurizon's board and CEO are probably hearing a lot of advice right now to focus on what's growing and what isn't mining, and at the moment - in Queensland at least - this is intermodal. A lot has been said before on the significantly increased loadings Aurizon is hauling into Mackay, Townsville and Cairns, much of it previously hauled by PN for Toll - and yet another example of taking business from your rail competitor instead of your road competitor...

However, there is a good news story starting to develop on Aurizon's shorthaul 640km corridor from Rockhampton to Brisbane. The six day a week Y874 from Rockhampton to Fisherman Islands has been running at record tonnages the last few months - now passing 2500-tonnes - and this traffic seems to be new-to-rail chemical traffic coming out of Gladstone - a city now set to become the East Coast's largest petrochemical hub. I think it is reasonable to say that this train and Aurizon's intermodal successes in Queensland will force the board and CEO to focus on standard gauge intermodal growth as their get out of jail card with their major investor, the Children's Investment Fund Management (a very loud investor that nearly overthrew the CEO of CSX in 2008 because of flagging returns). If this does happen, they will have to start chasing current road based business and finally start the turnaround the North-South corridor was supposed to have before we had the China export boom.
  Fireman Dave Chief Commissioner

Location: Shh, I'm hiding
A common theme seems to be a relative lack of traffic volumes. It needs to be pointed out, that there is also a relative lack of trucks on the roads as well. At the moment there is very little freight being moved anywhere, by anyone.

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