Rail woes leave Wakefield Transport in receivership

By: Jason Whittaker


Rail forwarder Wakefield Transport has gone into receivership amid accusations Victoria’s failing rail network contributed to the company’s financial dilemmas. The

Rail forwarder Wakefield Transport has gone into receivership amid accusations Victoria’s failing rail network contributed to the company’s financial dilemmas.

The Brumby Government is trying to fend off claims it had a role in the affair despite Deputy Mayor of Mildura Vernon Knight saying under-investment in the network is hurting rail and intermodal operators.

The failure comes as Pacific National prepares to close its rural rail business in the State, which it partly blames on the poor condition of track.

Knight, whose council forms part of the Alliance of Councils for Rail Freight Development, says Wakefield’s financial woes can be attributed to the state of Victoria’s rail network.

"It’s fair to say, given comments from intermodal operators, most have struggled with inadequate rail infrastructure," he tells ATN.

"As a consequence, rail operations are taking six to 12 hours longer a trip."

He says the Government must play a greater role in the State’s rail network or companies, as well as the Victorian economy, will suffer. Without sufficient investment, Knight says commodities such as grain will not be able to reach markets or ports.

According to Knight, the Government’s plan to have 30 percent of freight on rail by 2010 will not happen, and the figure is actually going backwards.

The future of Wakefield, responsible for the warehousing and transportation of regional produce in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia, is now in the hands of accountancy firm Deloitte. It has been appointed as voluntary administrators of the company to determine whether it should be restructured or sold.

The first creditors meeting is due to take place on April 3.

"The role of voluntary administrators is to act on behalf of all creditors and employees to review the financial position of the company," Sal Algeri, who is from the Deloitte Corporate Reorganisation Group, says.

Victoria Transport Minister Lynne Kosky has dismissed claims her Government should take responsibility for Wakefield’s situation.

"I understand that it’s a personal decision that’s been made, a personal business decision that’s been made by Ken," she says.

According to the Minister, the Government is investing in rail infrastructure and is in close contact with rail and intermodal operators.

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