ON April 20 documents were signed in Sydney marking Financial Closure of the Alice - Darwin rail link project. Included in the 179 documents was the concession deal between AustralAsia Railway Corp, representing the state governments, and the Asia Pacific Transport Consortium. Construction of the 1410 km line was due to begin at the end of April, with supply contracts worth A$250m to be awarded over the first three months.

The Financial Close was delayed on March 27 when APTC rejected a A$26·5m loan from Hong Kong’s Cheung Kung Infrastructure, claiming the ’inflexible’ terms were unacceptable.

Two days later, the South Australian government approved a rescue package, adding an equivalent A$26·5m loan to its previous A$150m commitment. With A$191·5m each coming from the federal and Northern Territory governments, this brings the public contribution to A$560m. The APTC partners will provide A$239m, and a consortium of banks the remaining A$461m.

APTC is formed of construction groups Brown & Root, Barclay Mowlem, John Holland and Macmahon Holdings, operator Australian Railroad Group and logistics firm PGA Ventures. Members of the banking consortium include ANZ, ABN-AMRO, Société Générale and Royal Bank of Scotland.