AUSTRALIAN interstate freight operator Pacific National has ordered 13 narrow-gauge diesel locos from EDI Rail, as part of its strategy to breach Queensland Rail’s 1067mm gauge stronghold (RG 1.04 p16). Due for delivery in February 2005, the PN class locos will be similar to QR’s 4000 class locos which were also built by EDI at Maryborough.

In January PN advised the Victoria state government that it was pulling out of negotiations to take over Freight Australia, having failed to reach agreement with RailAmerica on a price. Victoria is currently negotiating with RailAmerica to take back control of the state’s broad-gauge freight network, leaving FA as a pure train operator. In December the state’s Essential Services Commission issued a lengthy report setting charges for PN to use designated grain routes and sidings, allowing the company’s open access operations to compete directly with FA.

Others expressing interest in Freight Australia include Babcock & Brown, Australian Railroad Group, and possibly QR.