I am interested in the way in Australia that these restrictions are put on loco sales. I have been told it is because the companies are concerned they might be used by a competitor. It is interesting because the large operators in the US sell off there locos and they get picked up by other operators but then again they have operated in competition from the start whereas we have only operated in the private space for 20 years or so since government ownership where the likes of Westrail had a similar stance on resales.
In the US it's all about growing / retaining market share for rail (see how the short line model works where larger operators spin off some lines and give the short line assistance on some occasions to get going so the product stays on rail rather than transferring to road) rather than operators here where we often see contracts swap between operators or go straight over to road.
You cannot compare the US and Australian rail markets
In the US the operator owns the below rail asset. If a locomotive is sold it will not be used by a competitor on the same rails (US multiple running rights only allow transit)
Australia is basically open access, a sold asset can be used in direct competition over the same rails. Plus there is the problem of your customers, nothing in law to stop your customers purchasing and cutting you out of the loop
The current Australian rail business model basically dictates that withdrawn assets be scrapped.
This model will ensure that under-capitalised start-ups like El Zoro are doomed to failure, but well capitilised entrants with the ability to import rolling-stock like Qube should prosper. High start-up costs limit the ability of entrants to dramatically cut rates, and should lead to the refreshment of the national rail park
Aurizon as an example, no more rebuild/re-powering programs for aging locos (with tired iron flogged off overseas). As new long term contracts are won new locos are acquired to be amortised against profits. Only government owned rail (not subject to taxation) with large highly staffed back-shops can afford the luxury of 2250 and 2300 Class rebuild programs (basically expensive "make-work" to justify the politically expedient high headcount). PN's NR class half life rebuilds are a case in point, minimum amount of expenditure to ensure a further 15/16 years working life.
And lets kill talk of "branchline operators" in Australia. It will not happen as long as we have open access. With open access no operator has exclusive rights to freight over a designated branch. With the open access business model freight is block train movement from point A to point B by a single operator (or consortia in the case of some grain). It will be interesting to see if CBH's business model unravels in WA now that the ACCC have removed their exclusive franchise to move grain by rail, with Aurizon sitting in the wings with fully amortised rollinging-stock. If they wanted Aurizon can afford cut the guts out of WA grain freight rates, and make CBH's rail operation untenable