QRC calls railway network owner to rethink finances

UPDATE 9.40am: AURIZON has responded to the Queensland Resources Council's call to re-think its financial expectations.

The company issued a statement to APN, saying it remains committed to working through the Draft Access Undertaking with the Queensland Resources Council, our customers and other stakeholders.

"We've had ongoing constructive workshops aimed at identifying points of difference and clarifying points of agreement, some of these have been documented in various submissions to the Queensland Competition Authority," Aurizon said.

"Aurizon Network needs to be adequately funded to deliver a safe and reliable rail network to assist the continued growth of the Queensland coal industry in a  competitive global market.

"Aurizon also needs to attract private capital for investment in the rail network, recognising the range of options available to investors in infrastructure both in Australia and abroad.

"Aurizon has a strong track record of investing in rail infrastructure to support the continued growth of the Queensland coal industry and of Queensland. We are midway through a $2 billion investment program that is lifting rail capacity by 30% to more than 300 million tonnes.

"The DAU outlines a proposed additional $2 billion of capital investment that Aurizon will commit to build over the four-year period of the next undertaking.

"Aurizon understands the present market position of our customers and  we aim to balance our responsibilities to our shareholders and the desires of our customers."

8.55am: THE Queensland Resources Council is calling on the monopoly owner of Central Queensland's coal rail network to substantially re-think its financial expectations in a four-year draft plans for the network.

Aurizon has put together plans for access, the UT4 timetable and tariffs for the CQ network, which were lodged with the Queensland Competition Authority.

QRC Chief Executive Michael Roche said the Queensland Competition Authority's written proposal to Aurizon of a modified timetable for consideration of UT4 was supported by the coal industry.

"However, taking more time will count for nought unless Aurizon is prepared to move substantially from its totally unacceptable ambit claim lobbed on industry without prior consultation."

The authority said in a published letter to Aurizon that 'from a preliminary consideration of [stakeholder] submissions, stakeholders have identified a significant number of issues where there are substantive differences from the position of Aurizon Network as outlined in its UT4 proposal.'

"To say the least, the QRC and its coal members regard this assessment as an understatement," Mr Roche said.

"It is now well and truly time for some substantially new thinking by Aurizon about the returns it can expect to extract from monopoly ownership of the central Queensland rail network."

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