SCT Logistics tips ARTC on north south market share

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ARTC gains insight into how SCT Logistics works with Aurizon to gain market share for rail freight on the tricky north south corridor

SCT Logistics tips ARTC on north south market share
SCT Logistics tips ARTC on north south market share

By Anna Game-Lopata | August 13, 2013

Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) CEO John Fullerton last week took the opportunity to gain industry insight into how SCT Logistics works with Aurizon to gain market share for rail freight on the tricky north south corridor.

Fullerton was one of two rail freight network owners to experience an SCT Logistics intermodal train service first hand, for the first time.

Brookfield Rail CEO Paul Larsen
last week boarded the SCT Logistics freight train en route from Melbourne to SCT’s new export terminal precinct at Penfield, north of Adelaide then travelled across the Nullarbor and
via Kalgoorlie
to Perth.

SCT Logistics CEO Geoff Smith says the trip was part of an initiative undertaken by
his company
on a regular basis to allow customers and stakeholders the opportunity to see what’s involved in a freight operation.

The freight service, carrying about 5.5 thousand tonnes is 1.8 kilometer long at full
length and
includes cabins for the crew and a designated carriage for guests.

Smith is coy about
topics of conversation on the trip (apart from football) but
reveals Fullerton,
who is struggling to build market share on the north-south corridor despite significant ARTC investment, is very interested in SCT Logistics’ arrangement with Queensland-based rail freight operator Aurizon.

"In the last 12 months we’ve transitioned about 120 B-Doubles a week on to rail in the north west corridor, so we’re probably one of the few operators which is building market share between Brisbane and Melbourne," Smith says.

"From the ARTC’s perspective they want to understand more how we’re achieving that.

"It comes back to what we’re doing at hour terminals, how we’re loading and how we put our trains together," he says.

Smith adds the journey was a chance for the network owners to experience how the track is handling.

"You can feel whether the track is good, bad or indifferent quite well," Smith says.

The three day journey on Australia’s main interstate network encompasses about 75 percent
ARTC network, with roughly the last 25 percent from Kalgoorlie to Perth owned by Brookfield Rail on the Western Australian network.

Departing Melbourne, the SCT train starts at 1.4 kilometers in length with the network out of Adelaide, determined by passing loops, allowing its
full lenght of 1.8 kilometers.

"At Adelaide we can also double stack our trains so when we get to Adelaide the train stops for about three hours and we put on the additional length and double stack the containers close to maximum weight and length," Smith says.

"There are many people through the day and night which make that happen, so it’s a chance for the network owners to get a sense of what we do end to end at each terminal."

While Smith says the network owners didn’t offer any feedback about the state of the track, he says the worst track is between Melbourne to Adelaide, with significant improvement the further west you travel.

"There’s no doubt that both the track owners were taking in that fact along the journey," Smith says.

"While the north south corridor is currently a big focus for network investment, the east west corridor dominates the rail freight market and needs to be looked after.

"Track quality is essential for us to be able to deliver our freight undamaged and poor track quality is also harder on the trains."

Smith says congestion is also a problem on the network causing issues with scheduling.

"That’s why the ARTC is bringing in its Advanced Train Management System which will allow more trains, closer together on the system."

Rail dominates the land freight task between Sydney and Perth (East-West rail corridor), commanding an estimated 82 per centmarket share.

Demand is ongoing – both from intermodal freight traffic and resources traffic (the rail corridor to Perth carries large, efficient double-stacked 1800m long trains).

SCT Logistics has recently purchased a number of new, larger and more efficient, ‘AC tractive’ locomotives.

The company
has recently added an additional 10 of these environmentally clean locomotives to its current fleet of 15 with a further investment of $50 million.

SCT has invested over $60 million in its Adelaide rail freight centre at Penfield, North of Adelaide, with a further $16 million of investment planned.

Brookfield Rail infrastructure investment into its rail network includes a multi-million re-railing upgrade of 185km of track between Kalgoorlie and Koolyanobbing.

Since privatisation of State Government Railways in 2000 – Brookfield Rail has invested over $2 billion in West Australian railways.

They move around 70mtpa of freight on their network.

ARTC’s is rolling out its ground breaking Advanced Train Management System in 2014 in sections of the rail corridor between Adelaide and Perth.

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