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atec to buy freightlink

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    Rail industry stalwart Everald Compton has put forward an ambitious proposal to merge indebted FreightLink and an inland railway to create a rail network linking Melbourne and Darwin.

    Speaking at a conference in Mount Isa, Australian Inland Rail Expressway (AIRE) chairman Everald Compton said he had proposed the merger plan to the receivers and administrators of FreightLink.

    The owner and operator of the $1 billion Adelaide-Darwin railway went into voluntary administration earlier this month, after failing to garner the required consents to sell the business.

    Mr Compton, also chairman of the Australian Transport and Energy Corridor, said he had contacted Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, South Australian Minister Mike Rann as well as Northern Territory chief executive Paul Henderson, calling for political support for the plan.

    Under his plan, FreightLink would undertake the construction of a new standard gauge railway linking Mt Isa and Tennant Creek, in order to move freight from Queensland and the Northern Territory to the port of Darwin, utilising the Darwin railway.

    The standard gauge railway forms part of AIRE’s project, which aims to build an inland railway connecting Melbourne and Darwin via NSW and Queensland.

    Mr Compton said while the failure of the Adelaide-Darwin rail line had forced the inline rail project put on hold, negatively affecting Australia’s export capability, now was the opportune time to move the long-term rail project forward with political backing.

    “This debacle has severely damaged the credibility of all railways in Australia, but we will move forward with AIRE despite the world economic crisis as we now have a Queensland Government mandate for the Surat Basin railway, from Toowoomba to Gladstone, which is the fist section of our project,” he told the conference.

    “Provided that we have the unreserved political backing that we need, this joint venture will become one of the nation's success stories as the future of long-distance freight in Australia lies with rail, not road transport.”

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