Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Australian rail freight receives a boost from international investors


The Australian rail freight industry will benefit from the agreement now signed between major rail freight rolling stock leasing company CFCL Australia (CFCLA), Marubeni Corporation of Japan and Marubeni Australia Limited (Marubeni’s wholly-owned subsidiary) (collectively “Marubeni”) to participate in CFCLA’s Rail Joint Venture vehicle (the Rail Joint Venture).

Under this agreement, Marubeni will hold a 49% interest in the Rail Joint Venture, while CFCL Australia will retain a 51% interest. In addition, CFCLA will continue to provide comprehensive commercial and operating services to the Rail Joint Venture under a long term agreement.

The Rail Joint Venture provides short and long term leases of locomotives and rolling stock to rail operators across Australia, providing them with greater flexibility and certainty when negotiating freight haulage contracts.

The rolling stock fleet in the Rail Joint Venture currently comprises 37 diesel electric locomotives (being 3000HP or greater) together with 805 grain and container flat wagons. The fleet has a market value of A$200m. These are modern, well-engineered assets built to a standard specification that are suitable for use across the standard gauge rail network in Australia. High quality rolling stock assets continue to attract strong interest in new and renewal leases from major rail freight operators in Australia despite current economic conditions.

CFCL Australia’s Managing Director, Ian Gibbs said “The selection of Marubeni as our joint venture partner is an important step in realising the full potential of the Rail Joint Venture. Marubeni brings a wealth of international freight rail experience to the joint venture, together with its extensive experience and interests across the resources, agricultural and industrial sectors in Australia.”
The companies bring together the combined experience and knowhow of managing over 21,000 rail cars worldwide. Together the companies seek to be the premier provider of railcar and locomotive leasing solutions.

Marubeni Corporation is one of Japan’s largest listed companies with extensive international trade, contracting, and investments in the rail and transport sectors. Its investment in the Rail Joint Venture represents its first investment in the Australian rail freight sector. The Rail Joint Venture will be the exclusive vehicle by which Marubeni will participate in the Australian freight rail leasing market.

Level 5
A subsidiary of NSW 2000
Chicago Freight Car Leasing Co Ph: 02 8965 0000
ABN 61 083 217 814 Fax: 02 8965 0011

Mr. Yuji Shishime, Managing Director of Marubeni Australia, said “Marubeni is pleased to participate in the Rail Joint Venture. Working closely with CFCL Australia, we see enormous potential in the freight rail leasing market in Australia. The new Rail Joint Venture will be investing in a range of rolling stock that is responsive to operators needs and that will reflect the latest technology and environmentally sustainable rail operations. Our investment will contribute to growing the Australian rail freight task in coming years and will help to reduce carbon emissions by taking more trucks off the road.”

Ian Gibbs added “Marubeni’s experience is well suited to being a long term partner to CFCL Australia in the Rail Joint Venture. We share a strong view that the future outlook for the freight rail market in Australia is very positive and this will enable the Rail Joint Venture to continue an impressive growth path. We are looking forward to working with Marubeni in further growing this business.”

Friday, March 20, 2009

VFLC makes the case for helping rail compete

The Victorian Freight and Logistics Council (VFLC) is taking up the cudgels for the state's rail industry by preparing an advocacy paper highlighting recent and future improvements.
The council says Victorian and Federal Government infrastructure commitments worth $1.2bn since May 2007 have been accompanied by private sector investment in rail equipment and facilities specifically to provide a choice to use rail as a transport option.

“A renaissance is taking place in this mode, slowly but surely, to deliver responsive, efficient service and customer choice,” chief executive Rose Elphick said.

“This progress should be applauded and freight customers and the Victorian community need to understand the effort being put into repairing decades of under-investment in our rail network.”

The paper will detail:

• Recent public and private sector investment in rail infrastructure, facilities, systems and equipment;

• How and why rail works for customers (actual case studies);

• The changing culture and technology of rail supply;

• How rail performs in terms of energy and greenhouse emissions;

• How customers perceive rail can improve, based on their real experience;

• How rail and road complement each other.

“We recognise that there is a journey ahead to establish rail's contestable market share,” Ms Elphick said.

“However, good progress has been made and we anticipate that customers, freight forwarders and transport suppliers will consider the benefits of a multi-modal approach.”

Sampraz Ltd consultant Ray Fehlberg will collate case studies across Victoria until the end of May, talking to rail suppliers, logistics managers and government agencies to document the rail renaissance.

Anyone wanting to contribute should contact Mr Fehlberg on 0429 961 383, or VFLC project officer Andrew Baiden, on 03 8688 1831 or email vflc@transport.vic.gov.au.

The direct link to the article here.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sparke Helmore on the Hunter for infrastructure work

One of them is Sparke Helmore, which has recently bolstered its Newcastle-based construction, projects and infrastructure team with the appointment of ex-Clayton Utz lawyer Paul Tobin. He has previously worked in Taiwan and acted on the US$14bn (A$22bn) Taiwan High Speed Rail project

"Like many firms, we anticipate a lot of infrastructure work in the Hunter region, such as the expansion of existing coal mines, new mines in the Upper Hunter and Gunnedah basin, expansion of coal export facilities in the Port of Newcastle, expansion of the Hunter rail network by ARTC and the Intertrade development (A$120m). Capital expenditure in excess of A$1bn has reportedly been committed for rail infrastructure and coal facility projects," said partner Richard Anicich.

The firm is not only acting on mining and rail projects but also health projects, such as the proposed clinical research facility that has involved advising on funding arrangements, and the appointment of project managers and design consultants.

Anicich (pictured) believes established relationships in the Hunter gives his firm a distinct advantage over competitors. "We've been on the ground in the Hunter for 126 years, are accessible, and know the region, its significant participants and developments. We're also well placed to assist with the downstream work involving contractors and suppliers," he said.

Despite the global financial crisis the firm believes the long term outlook is optimistic, with upcoming projects expected to last for many years to come. Anicich pointed to National Australia Bank and Westpac that have recently opened new regional commercial banking offices in Newcastle. "It's a sign of confidence and strength in the region," he added.

This article has been taken from legalbusinessonline.com

Monday, March 9, 2009

Bombardier - 32 DMU cars for Australia V/Line

25 February 2009 - Bombardier Transportation was awarded a contract in Australia by the Victorian Government, to build a further 32 VLocity DMU cars, to be supplied as a mix of two and three car units.

The order is valued at approximately 75 million euros ($95 million US, $148 million AU). The new vehicles will be operated as part of V/Line Passenger's regional rail fleet.

The vehicles will be delivered through 2010 and 2011 and will respond to V/Line's growing capacity requirements.

"The Victorian Government has again expressed its confidence in the VLocity DMU and Bombardier with this purchase," said Dan Osborne, Managing Director of Bombardier Transportation Australia. "These units have delivered excellent performance and reliability since entering service, and have contributed significantly to the sustainable transportation provided by the Australian rail industry."

The VLocity DMUs have been built at Bombardier's plant in Dandenong, Australia, with 70% local content.

This brings the number of VLocity DMU cars operated by V/Line Passenger to 134. These trains, operated as two and three car sets, have proved very popular with both V/Line and the travelling public, and provide rapid and comfortable links from Melbourne to Victoria's major regional centres. Since the introduction of the VLocity DMUs into service in 2005, V/Line has experienced excellent patronage growth.

For more information, visit www.bombardier.com

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Asciano can't explain share hike

by Sam Collyer of www.railexpress.com.au
Asciano recorded an unexpected surge in its share price yesterday, with the ports and rail group adding $146m to its market capitalisation.

By the close of trading on the Australian Securities Exchange, Asciano's market value had increased more than 40% to $0.63 a share, up from a near-record low of $0.42 earlier in the day.

However, much of yesterday's gains were in the process of being wiped out this morning after Asciano said it had no new information on what had caused the price fluctuation.

Asciano shares were trading at $0.54 early this afternoon.

Asciano confirmed that it had nothing to add to last week's 2008/09 interim results briefing, which showed a first half net loss of $92m and net bank debt of $4.6bn.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Laing O'Rourke alliance secures billion dollar rail project

A billion dollar package to upgrade one of Australia’s major rail networks will further cement Laing O’Rourke’s position as a leader in rail infrastructure.

Novo Rail, an alliance comprising Laing O'Rourke, O’Donnell Griffin and Connell Wagner, will deliver up to $1 billion of new rail works for RailCorp in New South Wales during the next five years.

Rail East Regional Manager David Howarth said the package would not only benefit those within Laing O’Rourke’s Rail Group but also could provide opportunities for staff with non-rail backgrounds to gain experience in the sector.

David said the five-year program, which had the potential to extend for several more years, comprised of a number of projects from relatively small, rural jobs to complex, urban works.

Laing O’Rourke’s good track record in delivering live rail work in the Sydney area and demonstrated experience of project management were key to securing this high profile contract.

The New South Wales rail contract and the Goonyella to Abbott Point Electrification project in Queensland, which was awarded in August 2008, will secure Laing O’Rourke’s rail business for several years.

“Our involvement in two of the largest rail infrastructure programs in Australia and the opportunity to work with two premier clients (QR and RailCorp) puts us in a very strong position within the industry,” David said.CityRail train

RailCorp CEO Rob Mason said the alliance would help deliver essential infrastructure upgrades to improve CityRail's capacity to meet the demands of patronage growth.

“It also aims to encourage the growth of resources available to the industry, particularly signalling and electrical engineers.”

Mr Mason said the Novo Rail alliance of Laing O’Rourke, O’Donnell Griffin and Connell Wagner was chosen because of the team’s excellent experience in the delivery of RailCorp infrastructure.

“The partners have pooled their specialist resources to offer a ‘whole of project’ capability including industry-leading program management, rail system design and rail infrastructure delivery,” he said.

“These are all attributes which will help us to deliver the significant signalling, electrical and track works projects required to meet the demands created by growing rail patronage.”

The team has commenced mobilisation and physical works are due to begin in April 2009.

To visit Laing O'Rourke's website, click here.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Sydney rail the focus of federal spending

by Daniel O'Leary of Lloyds List DCN
The Federal Government has allocated $15m to accelerate planning and design work on an $840m dedicated freight line between Sydney's North Strathfield and Gosford.

Work on a $27.2m upgrade on the Port Botany rail line would also begin in March or April, federal transport minister Anthony Albanese announced yesterday in parliament.

The project would include track rearrangement and circuiting as well as signalling work.

However, construction had already begun on the long-awaited, dedicated Sydney freight line yesterday, he said.

The 36km-long track is intended to clear a bottleneck through the city on the interstate rail network.

The $309m project will be funded by the Commonwealth-owned Australian Rail Track Corporation, with a likely completion date of 2010 set.

Mr Albanese said the line would solve frustrating delays to freight services caused by limited track capacity.

Sydney passenger trains hold right of way over freight trains, but the new dedicated freight line should resolve this problem.

The line will run from Macarthur to Chullora providing access to about five freight trains an hour.

Port Botany will also be accessible through southern Sydney 24 hours a day.

The purpose of the new investment was to make rail more competitive by slashing travel times and improving reliability, Mr Albanese said.

The improvements would help to reduce the number of trucks on the road with each 1,500 metre train equivalent to about 100 semi trailers.

This article has been taken from www.lloydslistdcn.com.au