I don't know why Aurizon are so keen to exit the box market. They claim the interstate business hasn't made money for years. It was started up by buying the old NRR freight haulage round 10-15 years ago and went from there and they invested alot of money into it, but never got a pay back. Qld operations may have made money but PN is slowly eating at their market. If Qld makes money, it does seem strange that this works but the interstate doesn't. They obviously looked into selling the interstate and decided there are no takers and hence just losing it down.
I suspect if they have been loosing money hand over foot for long enough, they don't see a future in the box haulage market and its easier to focus on bulk haulage. I mean how many red line reports to you issue before saying this isn't working, I'm sure this is more than a few years of losses as its going cost a bit to close it all down.
PN have a history of monumental failures in short haul boxes in Tas, Vic and NZ. It is a tad surprising they they are the out right winner of Aurizon and PN, however maybe its that PN are better connected with the local haulage feed customers.
As for the ACCC, yeah well PN have been there before. The ACCC's response then was less than perfect and I'm sure they will take this into account. The ACCC cannot stop Aurizon closing the interstate so no influence there.
As for ACCC trying to prevent or curve PN taking over Qld, you have to ask why bother? Much of the interstate is now single operator, as is NT, as is Tas, as is NZ. If they block the sale, its quite likely Aurizon will just close it down by stealth hand it over to PN over a 1-2 year period by not taking up new contracts and off-loading existing.
Overall in this regard I don't believe the ACCC will have any significant impact on the sale apart from trying to justify their jobs.
After 20 years of open access on rail, the Australian market is proving to be a place that does not support much competition on rail outside major haulage tasks.