WITH EFFECT from March 1, Rail America’s Australian rail freight franchisee Freight Victoria has been renamed Freight Australia. The change reflects an expanding sphere of operations, with the start of a second contract operation in New South Wales at the end of February.

Freight Australia has deployed two locos and 40 wagons to haul grain to Port Kembla, under contract to AWB Ltd, the former Australian Wheat Board. Last year the operator won a contract to haul timber from Queanbeyan and Bathurst to Port Kembla, and it plans to set up a local office in New South Wales.

Rail America won the 45-year franchise to run V/Line Freight in May 1999, and its Victorian operation is currently handling over 7 million tonnes a year.

  • On March 15, Freight Australia signed a five-year contract with Wabtec Corp for maintenance of 148 diesel locos, management of its Melbourne-based stores, and supply of spares, with an optional five year extension. To manage the business, Wabtec has formed a new subsidiary, Wabtec Australia Ltd. n