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Author Topic: Article: US company Genesee and Wyoming puts the Ghan on track  (Read 1367 times)

Offline ozbob

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Sydney Morning Herald --> US company Genesee and Wyoming puts the Ghan on track

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It was a proud nation-building moment, the biggest project of its kind since the Snowy Mountains scheme was finished in 1974. When the first train from Adelaide arrived in Darwin in January 2004 - with the prime minister John Howard in the driver's cab - it was the realisation of a 150-year dream: a north-south transcontinental railway. Via its connection with Darwin port, the line was to be Australia's gateway to the lucrative markets of Asia, one that would transform trade to the region by slashing travel times.

From the day the first sod was dug in 2001, however, the railway's critics predicted it would not attract enough business. The $1.3 billion line was built and operated by private operator FreightLink, but it took $800 million in federal and state government subsidies to get the project started.

Interstate trucking and coastal shipping operators predicted a white elephant. Memorably, Patrick boss Chris Corrigan said returns on the line would be ''smaller than a tick's testicles''. Unfortunately, Corrigan's doubts proved justified.

FreightLink made profits but the company was heavily indebted by the line's construction. Investors were not satisfied and in May 2008 the company was put up for sale. In June 2010 it was purchased by American operator Genesee and Wyoming, which had entered Australia in 1997 with the purchase of freight lines in South Australia.

Genesee has turned the line's fortunes around and is now set for expansion.

In January, the company celebrated the 10th anniversary of the line's opening with a function at its Darwin terminal. Guests, including Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles and former deputy prime minister and rail aficionado Tim Fischer, were told the railway shifted 5.9 million tonnes of containers a year - up 65 per cent since 2004. In addition to these six-weekly 1.8-kilometre-long container trains, 24 weekly trains on the line carry 3 million tonnes of manganese and iron ore from NT mines to Darwin port. More mines and trains are in the pipeline ...

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/business/us-company-genesee-and-wyoming-puts-the-ghan-on-track-20140321-358kt.html
Half baked projects, have long term consequences ...
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