THE troubled $6 billion Oakajee port and rail infrastructure in Western Australia is facing a "slow death" in its current form as the falling iron ore price challenges the bankability of the Japanese-backed project and its proposed mine designed to support the infrastructure.
As Australia's major iron ore miners scale back expansion plans - including BHP Billiton shelving new port infrastructure - in the more profitable and iron-rich Pilbara region, analysts have questioned the viability of the Oakajee project to support the emerging Mid-West miners.
Japan's Mitsubishi was left to drive the project when previous joint venture partner Murchison Metals pulled out after admitting last year it could not fund its half of the infrastructure, which followed a series of cost blowouts, timeline delays and fights with potential customers.
Mitsubishi was also forced to take over Crosslands Resources, which is developing the Jack Hills mine in the Mid-West and is touted as one of the main assets to support the infrastructure, but industry sources have long challenged its economic viability, even when the iron ore price was higher.
An upper house inquiry has been warned about the high costs involved in developing a passenger rail service for Hobart's northern suburbs.
Tasmania's rail operations will be relocated to the multi-million dollar transport hub at Brighton in the next 12 to 18 months.
The move will result in the decommissioning of the rail line from Brighton to Hobart.
An Upper House inquiry is exploring the idea of using the line for a passenger service.
TasRail Chairman Bob Annells has warned of the high costs involved.
TWO members of "The Rail Hoons" caused $86,000 damage for graffiti ranging from 10cm tags to murals covering half a train.
David Houghton, 22, and Curtis Charles Olive, 23, pleaded guilty in Brisbane District Court on Wednesday to hundreds of graffiti drawings over five years.
They damaged buses, trains, bus shelters, buildings, poles and traffic signs.
They were part of a gang known for tags and murals on Queensland Rail property around jail.
Houghton told police the ultimate thrill and adrenalin rush was graffiti on trains.
A 21-YEAR-OLD man was bashed and robbed at the isolated and unmanned Corio train station on Monday night after winning money on the pokies just minutes before.
The incident has prompted renewed calls to fix the dilapidated station, which is located at the end of a lonely road behind the Shell Geelong refinery.
The man had allegedly accepted a lift from three unknown men at the nearby Gateway Hotel before being taken to the train station carpark and attacked.
He fled to a nearby Hungry Jack's fast food restaurant, where police were called.
"The victim had been playing pokies and drinking at the Gateway Hotel and after winning money left the hotel on foot," Senior Sergeant Rod Lloyd said.
"He was approached by a number of people who offered to drive him home and he's accepted and been driven to Corio train station.
A man was killed when he was hit by a train close to a level crossing in Essex.
The victim was struck by the Greater Anglia train at Bures, near Sudbury, causing delays to passengers.
Paramedics attended but the man was pronounced dead at the scene. Police said his death was not being treated as suspicious.
In the past fortnight, three other people have been fatally injured by trains in the eastern region.
When the cold, windswept plains of North Dakota opened to large-scale European settlement in the 1870s, the region was part of the Wild West. Resistance from native Americans had been largely broken and settlers from other parts of America poured in, seeking quick fortunes.
Nearly 150 years later, parts of North Dakota around the Bakken Shale formation – a vast, oil-bearing geological formation in North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Saskatchewan – are boom towns again. Camps have been set up for temporary workers and infrastructure is straining to cope.
The training organisation Energy Skills Queensland says a proposed high-speed rail service linking Bundaberg, Gladstone and Rockhampton would be a major boost for job seekers.
Business group Capricorn Enterprise released a glowing pre-feasibility study on the idea last month.
Energy Skills Queensland is expanding its Gladstone training program to attract workers from Bundaberg and Rockhampton.
MELBOURNE ratepayers would be hit with a new public transport tax under a controversial plan by a major lobby group. The Committee for Melbourne says revenue raised could fund projects such as the Melbourne Metro rail tunnel and expansion of the Dandenong line.
The committee would not speculate on the likely cost of the levy, but in a scheme on the Gold Coast households pay $111 a year; a similar charge in Melbourne would pour almost $180 million a year into the coffers.
The committee said councils could collect a flat or variable levy from metropolitan ratepayers on behalf of the State Government.
A rail link to Perth Airport will run down the middle of Tonkin Highway, tunnel under runways and stretch to the foothills as part of the State Government's preferred model.
The route will connect the Midland rail line to the proposed consolidated international and domestic airport terminal.
The State Government has earmarked the project for between 2021 and 2031 but the route needs to be finalised so it can be incorpor- ated in the airport's current redevelopment plans.
THE High Court is tomorrow due to hand down its decision on the seven-year long battle over access to iron ore rail lines in the Pilbara.
The battle has been between BHP and Rio on the one side and rival producers on the other seeking access to their lines at an agreed price.
Myki will become the only ticket valid for Melbourne's public transport system on December 29.
Metcard validating machines on trams will be switched off the day before, and Metcards will cease to be sold at train stations by the end of October.
More than 85 per cent of public transport users already use Myki, up from 20 per cent at the start of the year.
Transport Ticketing Authority chief Bernie Carolan said the biggest remaining challenge lay in convincing the one-in-four bus passengers that still use Metcard to switch.
PASSENGER trips on Melbourne trains dropped by almost 7 million last financial year, but the decline in rail patronage was more than matched by increases in tram and bus trips.
In total there were 536.8 million boardings on Melbourne's public transport system last financial year, a 3.4 per cent increase on 2011-12. But the boost in patronage is almost entirely attributable to more people taking to the city's buses, which carried a remarkable 17 million more people in 2011-12 than they did in 2010-11. There were 123.2 million bus trips in 2011-12 - a 15.8 per cent jump on the previous year. At the same time, the number of journeys on trains dropped 3.3 per cent, from 228.9 million to 222 million. It is the first financial year in which train patronage has declined since 1993-94. Overall, patronage has grown by 53 per cent in the past eight years.
NSW Minister for Roads and Ports Duncan Gay today provided an update on maintenance and upgrade work on the state's grain rail lines.
"We have a mantra in the O'Farrell Government, and that is to 'get the state moving again.'
"To help achieve this, over the next five years the government will be spending more than a quarter of a billion dollars on maintenance and upgrade works to the state's 996 kilometres of grain rail lines," Minister Gay said.
Since coming to office in March 2011, the O'Farrell Government has invested $61 million on maintenance and upgrade works to the state's grain lines - or more than $3 million a month - with about 100 people actively working on the tracks each year.
CityRail customers who purchase a seven day or 14 day MyTrain ticket will get a free day of travel on 1 October, to help reduce ticket queues after the Labour Day long weekend.
A Transport for NSW spokesperson said weeklies will be valid for eight days, and fortnightly tickets for 15 days if purchased between Sunday 23 September and Saturday 29 September 2012.
“Customers who buy their Weekly and Fortnightly MyTrain tickets next week will
benefit by gaining a free day of extra travel. The new expiry date will be automatically
added to their ticket,” the spokesperson said.
A train collided with a semi-trailer at the station on St Vincents Rd just after 6.30am.According to witnesses, the vehicle, which was carrying a heavy electrical transformer, appears to have broken down while parked across the tracks
THE first train service at the Wimmera Intermodal Freight Terminal at Dooen has marked a new era for Wimmera transport.
Terminal operator Wimmera Container Line unloaded and reloaded the first train at the site yesterday, which will provide a central location for grain handling and export processes and will improve access to grain ports.
Australia will soon have its first national rail safety investigator after legislation cleared parliament.
Draft laws, introduced by Transport Minister Anthony Albanese in June, aim to cut red-tape as part of the government's plan to nationalise maritime, rail and heavy vehicle safety rules by 2013.
NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay has failed to provide the parliament with an answer on how raising a Lewisham rail overpass would affect traffic on Parramatta Rd.
Last week the Courier revealed part of Parramatta Rd could be closed during construction of the inner west light rail extension so a Lewisham overpass can be raised.
The issue was raised in parliament last week by Labor upper house MP Walt Secord, who asked Mr Gay what measures would be put in place to ensure Parramatta Rd was not gridlocked.
Federal Labour Minister Albanese announced during a speach at Port Augusta yesterday additional funds totalling $16m would be made available for re-railing parts of the ARTC network west of Port Augusta. The funds thought to be for new track in the form of rails will be spent west of Port Augusta on the TAR in the area of Tarcoola.
WHILE the rest of the world is building high-speed rail, train travel between Australia's biggest cities is getting slower.
The timetable for train services between Melbourne and Sydney has recently been padded out by up to 85 minutes because operator CountryLink cannot keep to its published schedule. Little more than 10 of its twice-daily services to Sydney have arrived on time this year, although its Melbourne-bound services fared better.
Victorian operator V/Line will also rewrite its timetable in coming weeks to reflect its inability to keep time on the Albury line. Last month, just 2.8 per cent of V/Line trains between Melbourne and Albury ran on time.
Melbourne commuters have been riding the first trains capable of 'conversing' with cars in a bid to reduce accidents at level crossings.
During July and August, the Frankston line has been part of a trial of a 'intelligent transport system' designed to help cut collisions between cars, trucks and trains.
There were 114 sightings for this week. This is five sighting less than last week, making a total of 4383 sightings for this year to date. On day 259 last year we had recorded 3975 sightings. This is 408 sightings up on the same time last year.
Fortescue Metals Group has won a court battle that could open Rio Tinto's and BHP Billiton's tightly-held rail lines in the remote iron ore-rich Pilbara region of Australia to rival mining companies.
The High Court ordered today that appeals be allowed to an earlier Competition Tribunal ruling that had overturned a government decision to allow Fortescue access to Rio Tinto's two lines. The case has dragged on for years, during which time Fortescue has developed its own rival line to export its ore.
The decision comes as spot prices for the steelmaking commodity abundant in the arid north of Western Australia slump and mining companies struggle to contain costs and remove capacity bottlenecks from their operations.
UNITING a nation - a century of Trans-Australian Rail. Pity someone needing to cross Australia in 1900. The choices were equally bleak.
There was a journey of thousands of kilometres over rough desert terrain or a lengthy voyage across the Great Australian Bight, famous for its miserable, choppy seas.
Despite fierce opposition, Western Australia eventually voted "yes" to join the Federation in 1901.
An inducement was the promise of a train.