BYLINE: Bob Scheuber

Chief Executive, QR

On behalf of QR, I would like to welcome delegates from around the world to the 7th International Heavy Haul Conference and AusRAIL 2001, the biennial business conference of the Australasian Railway Association. Both events are being held at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, the IHHA conference from June 11 to 14 and AusRAIL from June 13 to 15. A joint trade and outdoor exhibition is also taking place.

As one of the world’s leading heavy haul railways, QR is very proud that our home city has been chosen as the venue for the IHHA conference, co-hosted by the Railway Technical Society of Australasia and taking as its theme ’Confronting the Barriers of Heavy Haul Technology’. AusRAIL is taking ’Pushing the Boundaries’ as its theme this year, and both programmes will bring together international leaders in rail infrastructure development and maintenance, rolling stock and related rail technology. There will also be tours to visit key rail projects both here in Queensland and the Pilbara region of Western Australia, and I warmly encourage delegates to take advantage of this opportunity.

QR is currently setting the freight benchmark for Australian railways with record-breaking tonnages, buoyed by the continued expansion of the businesses we serve. In 1999-2000 we set a new Australian record by hauling 131·5million tonnes of freight, 11million tonnes more than the previous year, which was also a national record. Our latest record represents about 25% of all rail freight tonnage moved in Australia.

The heavy haul coal export business remains the motor of our freight business. In 1999-2000 we hauled a record 114·5million tonnes, up by 10million tonnes on the previous year, and of which 104·5million tonnes was for export. This was equivalent to around 18% of total world seaborne coal trade; around 35% of the export coal we handle is bound for Japan.

During the current financial year we expect to haul 126million tonnes of coal, and this figure is forecast to reach 139million tonnes in 2005-06. This follows growth of 56% over a 16-year period between 1985-86 and 1999-2000.

Committed to best practice

QR’s extensive 1 067 mm gauge network links more than 30 mines to six export terminals as well as domestic coal consumers, with traffic concentrated on the Newlands, Goonyella, Blackwater, Moura and Moreton routes (RG 2.98 p104). With the Blackwater and Goonyella systems in central Queensland likely to be the busiest this year, our heavy haul coal network amounts to approximately 2000 km route-km, of which around 70% is electrified.

Having been the first railway in the world to have its coal operations certified as meeting quality assurance standards under AS/ISO 9002, we are committed to achieving best practice and are now in the final stages of a 10-year upgrading programme costing A$1·3bn. To keep pace with the growing demand, we have increased the capacity and improved the efficiency of our rolling stock fleet by investing over A$450m.

We have now almost completed the modernisation of our wagon and diesel locomotive fleets, as well as improving wagon payloads and train cycle times. A fleet of 106 tonne stainless steel bottom-dump wagons has replaced older and smaller types, allowing trainloads of up to 10100 tonnes to be hauled from mine to port at increased operating speeds. All of QR’s export coal wagons are now fitted with automatic bottom discharge doors, improving the safety of unloading operations while affording improved reliability and reduced maintenance costs.

In addition, QR has taken delivery of 38 Class 4000 diesel-electric locomotives, representing the world’s first application of AC traction drives to a narrow gauge heavy haul environment. The majority have replaced older locos on the Moura and Newlands routes, improving fleet efficiency and flexibility as well as providing capacity for expansion elsewhere.

Investing to compete

With major coal corridors upgraded to accommodate higher axleloads, larger wagon profiles and faster train speeds in the course of our 10-year investment programme, we have recently introduced a number of service enhancements and freight rate initiatives to provide greater flexibility to customers. Indeed, it might be said that infrastructure investment has dramatically improved QR’s competitiveness in the marketplace.

Customer service continues to be a driving force for our freight businesses, which operate in extremely competitive markets. Our commitment to the customer enables us to better compete and foster loyalty, and we are very proud of our strong relationships with customers. This is built on sharing information on our activities through effective communication and an appreciation of our customer’s business. We fully recognise that we can only be successful if our customers are successful, and are therefore positioning QR to engage in long-term customer-centred partnerships.

We are also gearing up to face the challenge of on-track competition which is in the process of being introduced to the state’s rail network by the Queensland Competition Authority. QR formed a Network Access Group (NAG) in 1998 to meet the regulatory requirements of the Australian government’s national competition policy by separating the management of track and infrastructure from the operation of trains, stations and other railway services.

NAG is the independent manager of access to the QR network and is the contact for any operator from within or without the state who wishes to operate trains in Queensland. It is responsible for access pricing, contract negotiation, network capacity management, the train control function, network infrastructure asset management and infrastructure planning and development.

QR has submitted a draft undertaking setting out terms and conditions for access to rail infrastructure, and discussions are continuing with stakeholders including the state’s mining industry and port authorities.

A global market

QR’s coal business is heavily dependent on the ability of export producers to maintain their competitiveness on the world market. As the coking coal market is forecast to remain stable globally, the main opportunity for growth would depend on the ability of Queensland producers to increase their market share. Major competitors in this market include mines in Japan, the USA and Canada.

The world steam coal market is expected to continue to exhibit strong growth over the next few years, and the challenge for Queensland will be to remain competitive in the face of new low-cost producers in Indonesia and China, as well as established producers in the neighbouring state of New South Wales.

As coal markets and the rail industry become more competitive, QR’s ability to retain business or to achieve the forecast growth in tonnage will increasingly depend on our ability to offer more reliable service. We must also meet capacity requirements and develop competitive commercial arrangements that satisfy our customers’ needs.

We welcome the challenge of operating in a competitive environment. The key to success is constantly seeking to improve our customer service focus on our coal industry partners. n

CAPTION: QR is carrying record tonnages of coal, with 126 million tonnes forecast to move between mines and ports in this financial year. Here three locos are heading for Hay Point from the mines at Goonyella

CAPTION: QR’s smaller wagon types are being replaced by 106 tonne stainless-steel bottom-discharge wagons, permitting 10 100 tonnes of coal to be hauled in a single train

Investment underpins record traffic

Hosting this year’s IHHA and AusRAIL conferences in Brisbane, Queensland Railways (QR) is now one of the world’s leading heavy haul operators, having carried a record 114·5million tonnes of coal in 1999-2000. Currently handling some 40% of all rail freight traffic in Australia, QR has combined major investment in locomotives, wagons and infrastructure with close attention to customer service. Through a policy of continuous improvement, Chief Executive Bob Scheuber hopes to help maintain the position of Queensland’s coal producers in the world market while fending off competition from other operators that may emerge.

Les investissements soutiennent un trafic record

Cette année, alors qu’ils accueillent à Brisbane les conférences de l’IHHA et AusRAIL, les chemins de fer du Queensland (QR) sont désormais un des leaders mondiaux dans le domaine des opérateurs de réseaux à trafic lourd, avec un record de 114·5 millions de tonnes de charbon en 1999-2000. Transportant habituellement 25% du trafic ferroviaire fret d’Australie, les QR ont su combiner d’importants investissements en matière de matériels moteurs, de wagons et d’infrastructure, tout en attachant une attention toute particulière au service client. Par le biais d’une politique continuelle d’amélioration, le Directeur Exécutif Bob Scheuber espère aider au maintien de la position des producteurs de houille du Queensland sur le marché mondial tout en éloignant la concurrence d’autres opérateurs qui pourrait voir le jour

Investitionen stützen Rekordverkehr

Als Gastgeber für die diesjährige IHHA- und AusRAIL-Konferenzen in Brisbane, sind die Bahnen in Queensland (QR) mit einer Rekordmenge von 114·5 Millionen Tonnen transportierter Kohle im Jahr 1999-2000 zu einem weltweit führenden Schwerlastbetrieb geworden. Zur Zeit transportieren die QR rund 25% des australischen Bahngütervolumens, und sie haben substantielle Investitionen in Lokomotiven, Wagen und Infrastruktur mit grossem Augenmerk auf den Kundendienst kombiniert. Dank einer Politik der kontinuierlichen Verbesserungen hofft der Geschäftsführer Bob Scheuber die Stellung der Kohleproduzenten in Queensland im Weltmarkt halten zu k