Rail First Asset Management

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Rail First Asset Management
IndustryRail Asset Management
FoundedNovember 1998
Key people
Mark Kirkpatrick (CEO)
ParentAnchorage Capital Partners

Rail First Asset Management (RailFirst), formerly known as CFCL Australia (CFCLA), is an Australian rolling stock leasing company operating in the rail freight market. It leases assets to a number of private rail operators in the local rail industry, predominantly on the defined interstate rail network.

Though primarily based in New South Wales, RailFirst's assets can be found operating in most Australian states and with all major train operating companies. It has rolling stock on both long-term lease to these companies as well as assets that are available for spot hire. It is owned by Anchorage Capital Partners.


EL class locomotives in January 2007
S311 leading CFCLA grain hoppers on an El Zorro operated train near Meredith in January 2008

CFCL Australia was established in 1998, by the American Chicago Freight Car Leasing Company. Its first contract was for the supply of a small fleet of radio controlled, automated ballast hoppers to Westrail.

The first locomotives acquired were 13 members of the EL class from Australian National in November 1998.[1][2] In 2000, it diversified into wagons.[3]

In March 2009, the Marubeni Corporation purchased a 49% stake in CFCL Australia.[4] In November 2012, CFCL Australia unveiled its first infrastructure train in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.[5] As at October 2014, it had locomotives operating construction trains on the Roy Hill line and on the Hamersley & Robe River railway.[6]

Marubeni relinquished its stake in CFCL Australia in 2016 and moving to 15% stake in CF Asia Pacific. As of January 2020, Marubeni holds no interest in either entity.

After being sold to Anchorage Capital Partners in January 2020, in 2021 it was rebranded to Rail First Asset Management.[7][8]

CFCLA Maintenance previously CF Rail Services[edit]

CF Rail Services logo

In September 2010, CFCLA took out a lease on the Goulburn Railway Workshops to maintain both its locomotive and wagon fleets with the facility named the Australian Horse Power Service Centre.[9][10][11] As well as maintaining its own fleet, Chicago Freight Car Leasing Australia also perform maintenance for other operators including Qube Logistics. It also maintains locomotives at Islington Railway Workshops in Adelaide.

CF Rail Services was established in 2013, bringing together the Australian Horse Power Service Centre and took over Bluebird Rail Operations engineering business at Islington.[12] The CF Rail Services name was dropped in 2017 to consolidate the name as Chicago Freight Car Leasing Australia also known as CFCLA.


Initially, RailFirst locomotive fleet comprised second-hand locomotives no longer required by rail operators or re-manufactured units that had been given life-extending overhauls. More recently it has purchased new locomotives

The RailFirst diesel locomotive fleet is made up of a variety of different classes of units, ranging from modern high power units to older mainline locomotives, it's older smaller locomotive now retired.[13] As at October 2019, it comprised 78 locomotives.

Class Image Type Gauge Top speed
Number Notes
EL class CFCLA-EL-classes.jpg Diesel-electric Standard 115 13 ex Australian National
44 Class CFCLA-44class-4471.jpg Diesel-electric Standard 115 1 Ex FreightCorp. Stored.
GL Class Diesel-electric Standard 115 12 rebuilt ex FreightCorp 442 class
442 class Diesel-electric Standard 115 2 Sold to Manildra Group
500 class Diesel-electric Standard 65 1 ex South Australian Railways
B class Cfcla-b-class-melbourne.jpg Diesel-electric Broad 115 2 ex V/Line via various operators
C class CFCLA GT26C C502 AT NCIG Kooragang.jpg Diesel-electric Standard 115 3 ex V/Line via various operators
S class El-zorro-broad-gauge grain.jpg Diesel-electric Broad 115 2 Since sold to a private owner – one now with SSR
T class T373 CFCLA.JPG Diesel-electric Broad 100 4 ex V/Line via various operators, three sold to Watco Australia
G class G515MaryvaleFlinders.jpg Diesel-electric Broad 115 3 ex V/Line via various operators
TL class Diesel-electric Standard 100 1 ex Kowloon-Canton Railway
CD Class Diesel-electric Standard 90 6 ex Robe River Iron Associates
VL class CFCLA-VL-class-VL355.jpg Diesel-electric Standard 115 12 New build
CF class 4GM1 CF4407, CF4410 Jacana.jpg Diesel-electric Standard 115 14 4 to be delivered in 2022
CM class 5MS7 CM3301, QBX002 Albion.jpg Diesel-electric Standard 115 16 New build

Most locomotives in the fleet are named after famous Australian racehorses.

RailFirst fleet consist of 1195 freight wagons of a variety of types including ballast hoppers, grain hoppers, bulk mineral hoppers, and intermodal flat wagons of varying lengths and carrying capabilities. RailFirst wagons generally have four-character identification codes starting with the letter C.[14]


  1. ^ Oberg, Leon (2007). Locomotives of Australia: 1850s – 2007. Rosenberg Publishing. p. 9. ISBN 1-877058-54-8.
  2. ^ "ELs Sold to US Bidder". Railway Digest. December 1998. p. 12.
  3. ^ "CFCLA Wagon Expansion". Railway Digest. June 2000. p. 13.
  4. ^ "Joint Venture". CFCLA. Archived from the original on 2 March 2019.
  5. ^ "Trainsets 2013-2014" (PDF). CFCL Australia. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 March 2019.
  6. ^ "Australia Wide Fleet List". Motive Power. No. 96. November 2014. pp. 66–67.
  7. ^ Anchorage Capital Partners acquires CF Asia Pacific Anchorage Capital Partners 6 January 2020
  8. ^ CFCLA now Rail First Asset Management Railway Digest May 2021 page 4
  9. ^ Chicago Freight Car Leasing Australia (2 September 2010). "Bright Future for Goulburn Railway Workshops" (PDF) (Press release). Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 April 2018.
  10. ^ Oberg, Leon (12 June 2012). "Workshops roll ahead". Goulburn Post.
  11. ^ "Born in Chicago". Railway Digest. November 2012. p. 34.
  12. ^ "History". CF Rail Services. Archived from the original on 26 May 2015.
  13. ^ "Locomotives". Chicago Freight Car Leasing Australia. Archived from the original on 17 February 2020.
  14. ^ "Wagons". CFCL Australia. Archived from the original on 18 February 2020.

External links[edit]