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FoI shows PN trying to shirk rail responsibility

Freedom of Information documents show Pacific National threatened to stop investment in rail because of lost contract

Pacific National threatened to stop investing in locomotive and wagon upgrades despite its responsibilities under the Rail Rescue Package, according to Freedom of Information (FoI) documents.

Tim Morris, the Tasmanian Greens’ spokesman on infrastructure, says the documents shows the Asciano-owned company attempted to shirk its commitment to the $10 million package when it told the State Government it would cease investment as of August 28 due to failed bid for a coal contract.

“Pacific National has used the fact that they lost a coal contract last November as an excuse to inform the Government that they would discontinue their investment in the upgrading of the rolling stock which was to be $10 million dollars this year,” Morris says.

Citing the documents, Morris says “there (is) over half a million dollars of maintenance claims unresolved” and “Pacific National has now stopped fulfilling its part of the rail deed in relation to the investment that it had signed up too”.

Morris accused the Government of putting at risk the future of the State’s rail freight industry because it had not informed the public of Pacific National’s threat.

However, Morris says the rail freight carrier’s decision to pull out of Tasmania does not permit it to walk away from its obligations or allow the state of rail infrastructure to decline.

“Just because Asciano is trying to sell PNT [Pacific National Tasmania] does not excuse the company from fulfilling both the legal commitments it has made as well the spirit of the rescue package,” Morris says.

“It cannot just allow its trains to deteriorate further whilst it sells the business and then expect the new owner to pick up the increasingly large mess that PNT is making.”

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