The largest coal companies in Queensland are committed to bidding for Queensland Rail’s coal division ahead of a planned float by the Anna Bligh’s Government in October.
14 coal companies met yesterday in a meeting chaired by former NSW premier Nick Greiner after the QLD Government announced plans to float Queensland Rail Coal as early as October this year.
The floated company would be a vertically integrated rail operation including the railway lines, trains and coal carriages that run on them. The proposed vertically integrated model raises questions over whether structural separation is necessary to avoid a repeat of the Telstra sale result.
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh defended the government’s decision to float the entirety of Queensland Rail, and not just the railway network, as this would give the highest income from the sale. “my role is to look after the taxpayer”.
Chief executive of Queensland Rail, Lance Hockridge, believed comparisons between his company and Telstra were unwarranted in an interview with ABC’s Inside Business television program.
“You are talking about a big, big company with literally millions of small customers versus a company like ours with a handful, or two handfuls, of big customers, of the kind of BHP and Rio Tinto.”
“We’ve looked around the world at every railroad around the world. What is the right model for this kind of business . . . the North American railroads, the so-called class one railroads, all of which are publicly listed. They are all vertically integrated and they are all very successful railroads.”
The proposed Queensland Rail structure differs from that which exists in other states. In NSW, the federal government owns the railway tracks through the Australian Rail Freight Corporation, with the rolling stock owned and operated by Queensland Rail and Pacific National.