APRIL 28 saw the arrival of Queensland Rail’s maiden Brisbane - Melbourne open-access interstate train at CRT Group’s Altona terminal in the Victoria state capital. The East Coast Intermodal Service is run by QR’s standard-gauge subsidiary Interail in conjunction with CRT.

On hand to greet the train were CRT Group Executive Director Col Rees and QR CEO Bob Scheuber, who described the occasion as ’a significant day’ in the history of Australia’s rail industry. CRT Intermodal General Manager John McNamara said the relationship with QR represented significant benefits for both parties. CRT’s existing Melbourne - Sydney train had been run by Freight Australia, which has now been bought by its main rival Pacific National.

According to QR, considerable time and effort was needed to organise paths and access agreements, locomotives, rolling stock and train crews, and to satisfy the regulators in three different state jurisdictions.

Since May 3 the train has run three times a week between Altona and Acacia Ridge in Brisbane. It connects with QR’s Far North train, allowing CRT to ship bulk polymers to Brisbane, Rockhampton, Townsville and Cairns. While the train runs under the QR banner, the locomotives are leased from CFCLA and crews are supplied by Southern Shorthaul Railroad.

Meanwhile, Pacific National is planning to launch its own narrow-gauge east coast service from Brisbane to Cairns in competition with QR. n