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Urban rail news in brief - July 2015
Inland rail a trifecta for Toowoomba region: mayor
Mining giant Glencore has confirmed more freight will be on the road in north Queensland after rail company Aurizon lost its contract.
Aurizon's contract loss in January meant extensive job cuts across several north Queensland towns, with Hughenden the worst affected, losing 29 jobs in the area.
Pacific National, which was already responsible for taking Glencore's mineral concentrate via rail, has taken over the Aurizon contract.
Aurizon had been responsible to transporting other products for Glencore.
Glencore's Australian copper assets chief executive Mike Westerman confirmed the freight Aurizon had been transporting would now be moved using trucks.
He said using road transport was cheaper than using rail with Aurizon.
"As any operation would do, we went out and sought expressions of interest as their contract was ending," Mr Westerman said.
"As part of that commercial process, we had a rail provider that was significantly cheaper than the other and we eventually went for Pacific National."
Rail freight in long-term planMr Westerman said Glencore was spending more than $2 million to build its own wagons because it had not been able to come to a deal to take Aurizon's rollingstock.
He said rail freight was in the company's long-term plan.
"It would have been good to have an orderly transition from one rail provider to another, but we were unable to strike an agreement," he said.
"I'm frustrated that we can't come to a solution that's in the best interests of all parties."
Mayors call for road taxSeveral councils along the Flinders Highway have called for a road tax on companies like Glencore putting a large number of trucks on the road.
Flinders Shire Mayor Jane McNamara said she had been stunned to learn the mining company had signed up a freight provider without the capability to carry its inter-modal products via rail.
[color=#000000][size=1]PHOTO:[/size][/color] The Flinders Highway is set for more trucks after Glencore could not come to an agreement with Aurizon to use its leftover train wagons. (ABC Rural: Eliza Rogers)
"Anybody that drives the Flinders Highway at the moment is seeing the effects of having so many more trucks on the road," Cr McNamara said.
"They're talking 50 or 60 more triple road trains on the Flinders Highway every day.
"Just the safety aspect of that … it's alright at this time of the year, but can you imagine what it's going to be like once we have tourists on the road?"
Cr McNamara said other councils in the area were interested in placing a tax on heavy users of road transport.
"[Richmond Mayor] councillor Wharton came up with a suggestion that we actually talk with the State Government to see whether a road tax or a user pays tax comes on for the big companies," she said.
"Not the transporters, because they're all smaller operators and they're paying enough for the road as it is through their registration."
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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