Winning bidders for the three main elements of Australian National offered for sale to the private sector were announced on August 28 by Federal Minister for Transport & Regional Development John Sharp.

Combined gross value of the successful bids is A$95·4m, but Sharp said the government could have raised A$30m more had price been the only consideration. Bidders were also judged on quality, he emphasised. ’The end deal was best for jobs, regional development and expansion of the rail system.’ Collectively, the buyers are committed to capital expenditure of A$97m over the next four to six years.

US regional railroad Wisconsin Central, with its New Zealand partners which already own TranzRail, will take over AN’s 1067mm gauge Tasrail network in Tasmania. Under the deal, the government will provide A$10m for land restoration and A$5m for track upgrading, making the net sale value only A$7m.

Residual freight and engineering operations in South Australia go to a grouping led by US short line investment group Genesee & Wyoming Inc with local firms Clyde Engineering and Transfield. According to the minister, the group has agreed to retain 42 apprentices taken on by AN and make Port Augusta its main engineering base, ’ensuring the town’s future’.

Winner of the passenger operations is Great Southern Railway, a consortium of British train operating franchisee GB Railways with Serco Bank Asia and Sydney-based Macquarie Bank.

According to GSR, the company is committed to expanding and improving the passenger routes it has acquired. It is committed to routing the Sydney - Perth Indian Pacific via Melbourne, extending the Alice Springs - Adelaide The Ghan to Sydney and Melbourne, improving Adelaide connections for the Overland and providing additional services to Broken Hill. These plans are backed by a A$13·4m capital expenditure programme. o

The Australian National sale

Long-distance passenger services

Great Southern Railway (GB Railways, Serco Asia Pacific, Macquarie Bank). A$16m

South Australia Intrastate Freight and Maintenance

Genesee & Wyoming Inc with consortium including Clyde Engineering and Transfield. A$57·4m


Wisconsin Central/Tranz Rail. A$22m