ON JANUARY 16 Australian operator Great Northern Rail Services Pty Ltd of Gisborne launched the first fully-independent intrastate train on the tracks of the Victoria state rail network, hauling infrastructure materials from Melbourne to Newport via Tottenham. With a fleet of nine regaugable broad/standard-gauge diesel locos, GNRS has achieved full accreditation and negotiated a track access agreement with Victrack (p112).
Unlike passenger operator West Coast Railway which continues to use V/Line crews, GNRS has negotiated its own Enterprise Agreement with the Public Transport Union, allowing it to operate trains with its own staff. GNRS hopes to win further haulage contracts as infrastructure work goes out to tender, and hopes that its low overheads and flexible approach will be able to win intrastate freight traffic from other modes. o