|Founded||1 May 1999|
|Defunct||16 August 2004|
|New South Wales|
|Parent||A Goninan & Co|
Freight Australia was an Australian railway company that purchased the V/Line Freight business from the Government of Victoria in 1999. Initially known as Freight Victoria, it operated rail freight services and controlled non-urban rail track in the state of Victoria, later expanding into freight haulage in other states. Freight Australia was sold to Pacific National in August 2004.
V/Line formerly had a freight division, known as V/Line Freight. Under the Kennett State Government, V/Line was split into two separate entities on 1 July 1997: V/Line Passenger and V/Line Freight, with separate management to each other in preparation for privatisation. When V/Line was privatised in 1999, the passenger and freight divisions were sold separately.
The company was formed in March 1999 when the Freight Victoria consortium was announced by the Victorian State Government as the successful bidder for the state owned V/Line Freight business. The consortium consisted of RailAmerica, Fluor Daniel, Macquarie Bank and A Goninan & Co.
The sale included 107 locomotives and more than 2,800 freight wagons, maintenance centres at South Dynon, Geelong, Portland and Wodonga, as well as a 45-year lease (in renewable 15-year leases) on 4,756 km of broad gauge intrastate track in regional Victoria. A green and yellow livery was adopted for rolling stock. The company commenced operations on 1 May 1999.
Regular broad gauge trains in Victoria carried logs sourced from Gippsland, paper products from Maryvale, gravel from Kilmore East, as well as general freight to and from Wodonga, Tocumwal, Shepparton, Swan Hill, Bendigo, Boort, Echuca, Deniliquin, Mildura, Warrnambool and Geelong. Grain trains also operated throughout the state as required. Freight Victoria also operated standard gauge trains in Victoria to Wodonga and Dimboola.
Freight Victoria soon begun gaining contracts outside Victoria, taking advantage of open access regimes. In October 1999, it began hauling logs from Queanbeyan to Port Kembla and in December 1999 from Wallerawang.
In March 2000, the company was renamed Freight Australia. In April 2000, Freight Australia began hauling export grain from southern New South Wales to Melbourne and Port Kembla. In October 2000, it commenced hauling SCT Logistics services from Melbourne to Perth.
Further interstate contracts followed:
- Fuel: from the Clyde Refinery to West Tamworth, Dubbo, and Canberra
- Domestic grain: from throughout NSW to Weston Milling, Enfield from 2002
- Export grain: from the NSW Riverina district to Port Kembla, or Appleton Dock, Melbourne
- Friskies: grain transported to a pet food processing plant in Blayney, from the central-west of NSW.
- Logs: spasmodic traffic from Canberra to Port Kembla
- Cement: Berrima to Melbourne
In October 2003, Freight Australia was put up for sale. The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) looked at the sale, fearing that Pacific National would create a rail and freight monopoly if it won control of the operator. At the time, other potential buyers included Australian Railroad Group, Queensland Rail, and merchant bank Babcock & Brown.
In March 2004, RailAmerica announced it had agreed terms with Pacific National to sell the business subject to government and regulatory approval. In July 2004, the ACCC announced it would not oppose the acquisition, and in August 2004, the Victorian Government approved the transfer of the Freight Australia infrastructure lease to Pacific National. Very little of the freight that FA hauled remains with PN, most of it going to road with a small amount going to other rail operators. Contracts lost to other operators include the Berrima Cement service (QUBE), the Deniliquin Rice (QUBE), the Maryvale Paper (QUBE) Allied Mills and Emerald Grain (SSR) and the Apex Quarry service (QUBE).
Included in the purchase of V/Line Freight were 107 diesel locomotives and more than 2,800 freight wagons, which had been owned and operated by the Victorian Railways and their successors. The newest and most powerful locomotives were the 3,300 hp G class delivered from 1984, but other locomotives dated as far back as the 1950s.
With traffic growing Freight Victoria decided to replace the prime movers in number of the G class, increasing the power output to 3,800 hp. The older X class diesels also saw a more extensive power upgrade program, being stripped to the frame and rebuilt as the XR class. The company only purchased a single new locomotive, V544 which was built new in 2002 to replace two written off G class locomotives. Additional rollingstock was also acquired, including new 100 tonne capacity grain hoppers built by Alstom at the Ballarat North Workshops, second hand grain hoppers from FreightCorp, and the conversion of surplus vans into log and container flats.
To fulfill a contractual condition with customer CRT Group that if Freight Australia was acquired by a competitor of CRT Group, 10,000 hp (7,500 kW) of locomotive power (calculated by the business CRT Group was offering Freight Australia) was to be transferred to them, two G and two X class locomotives were transferred to CRT Group. The balance of the fleet was included in the sale to Pacific National.
|Class||Image||Type||Gauge||Top speed (km/h)||Built||Number||Notes||Fate following PN takeover|
|A||Diesel-electric||Broad||115||1984-85||6||Rebuilt B class||All withdrawn from service by May 2014. All bar one scrapped in 2019.|
|G||Diesel-electric||Broad, Standard||115||1984-89||33||2 scrapped following 1999 Ararat collision||2 sold to QR National, later sold to Linx Cargo Care. 9 sold to SCT Logistics in March 2007, later sold again to various operators. The remaining 22 are in service with Pacific National|
|H||Diesel-electric||Broad||100||1968||5||One remains partially scrapped in North Dynon, one scrapped, 3 sold to Ettamogah Rail Hub with 2 preserved by 707 Operations|
|P||Diesel-electric||Broad||100||1984-85||5||Rebuilt T class||4 sold to Ettamogah Rail Hub. Two of those are preserved with SRHC. Remaining example stored in Newport under PN ownership|
|S||Diesel-electric||Broad||115||1957-61||5||One leased from Seymour Railway Heritage Centre||3 still owned by PN, with one stored in Newport, one preserved with 707 Operations, one stored in Port Augusta. Remaining example was sold to SRHC in 2010|
|T||Diesel-electric||Broad, Standard||100||1955-68||12||One remains in service with PN, as a shunting unit. One has been preserved with 707 Operations, every other unit has been sold to Ettamogah Rail Hub or scrapped.|
|V||Diesel-electric||Standard||115||2002||1||Built new in 2002 to replace two G classes that were destroyed in a collision at Ararat in 1999.||After spending long periods of time stored in Port Augusta, it was sold in May 2021 to One Rail Australia and has been returned to service.|
|X||Diesel-electric||Broad, Standard||115||1966-76||24||6 rebuilt as XR class||2 now preserved with SRHC, 1 scrapped in 2016, 5 more scrapped in 2019. 2 were sold to SCT Logistics in 2018. 2 remain in service with Pacific National, and three are stored.|
|XR||Diesel-electric||Broad, Standard||115||1999-2006||6||Rebuilt from X class. Renumbering began in 2003. XR555 completed under PN ownership.||Three more built from scratch in 2006, all remain in service with Pacific National|
|Y||Diesel-electric||Broad, Standard||65||1963-68||20||None remain in service with PN. All have been sold to Ettamogah Rail Hub, scrapped or are stored.|
- Peter Attenborough (June 2004). "Freight Australia". Australian Model Railway Magazine. 21 (9): 24–27.
- RailAmerica Backed Freight Victoria Consortium Wins Australian V/Line Freight Bid Business Wire 22 February 1999
- Rail giants to battle for Freight Australia The Age 1 November 2003
- "Freight Victoria Bid Wins V/Line Freight" Railway Digest March 1999 page 9
- Railamerica Wins In Australia - Freight Victoria consortium led by RailAmerica Inc. acquires V/Line Freight Railway Age March 1999
- RailAmerica buys V/Line Freight The Guardian 7 April 1999
- "Freight Victoria's NSW Log Traffic" Railway Digest December 1999 page 15
- Wang Logs Commence Railway Digest January 2000 page 38
- Corporate Name Change Motive Power issue 10 April 2000 page 31
- New Colours Railway Digest April 2000 page 39
- Freight Victoria goes national Truck & Bus Transportation April 2000 page 50
- New South Wales Grain Contract Motive Power issue 10 April 2000 page 31
- Freight Australia - Grain haulage intensifies Railway Digest June 2000 page 33
- Freight Australia reaches Cowra Railway Digest August 2000 page 34
- Freight Australia Takes Over SCT Haulage Catch Point issue 140 November 2000 page 5
- Freight Australia Takes Over SCT Services to Perth Railway Digest November 2000 page 11
- Freight Australia wins new business in NSW Railway Digest November 2002 page 6
- Freight Australia wins NSW grain job Rail Express 22 October 2002
- Alarm on bid for Victorian Rail Freight The Age 8 December 2003
- Freight Australia Sold Newsrail May 2004 page 140
- ACCC not to oppose Freight Australia acquisition Australian Competition & Consumer Commission 2 July 2004
- Rail Set to Grow With Freight Australia Transfer Agreed Office of the Treasurer, Minister for Public Transport 16 August 2004
- Here & There Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin issue 764 June 2001 page 225
- "First grain wagons roll - Alstom Australia delivers railroad cars to Freight Australia". Asia Pacific Rail. findarticles.com. September 2001. Archived from the original on 29 June 2006. Retrieved 23 October 2008.
- Peter J Vincent. "VHBF - Grain Hopper wagon". pjv101.net. Retrieved 23 October 2008.
- Peter J Vincent. "VFTX - Log Traffic Flat Wagon". pjv101.net. Retrieved 23 October 2008.
- Peter Attenborough (February 2006). "Colin Rees Transport". Australian Model Railway Magazine. 22 (256): 37.