PACIFIC National has denounced the establishment of the National Intermodal Corporation, suggesting the government’s investment in the interstate rail freight network is misguided.

National Intermodal was established yesterday to facilitate the delivery of the federal government’s investment in an integrated network of intermodal terminals along the east coast.

A core component of this project is the Inland Rail, designed to reinforce Australia’s supply chain and connect exporters with international markets.  

However, Pacific National CEO Paul Scurrah said the investment in the rail freight terminals will be harmful to the private sector.  

“It’s hard enough competing against the rapid growth of road freight, let alone now facing direct competition from government using taxpayers’ money to develop intermodal terminals,” Mr Scurrah said.

“Let me stress, Pacific National welcomes government investment to upgrade and improve the interstate rail freight network, but this initiative is misguided.”

Mr Scurrah said the government should shift its attention and resources to building greater resilience into the existing interstate rail network, namely the Trans-Australian Railway, which was closed for almost a month following the recent floods in South Australia.

He said the expansion of Moorebank Intermodal Company, which has transitioned to become National Intermodal, will stifle future private sector investment in the national rail supply chain.

“This initiative will not support the goal of both governments and rail operators driving modal shift of freight from road to rail to help deliver environmental and safety benefits for the nation.”

Mr Scurrah noted Pacific National has an existing national network of interstate terminals supporting the national rail freight task and has initiated plans to increase its capacity for container movements by rail in the coming months and years.

“This represents a significant existing and future commitment of capital and resources to continue the growth of freight on rail and meet the demands of our customers,” he said.

“However, we must now ask the question, why would a private company invest in the development or enhancement of an intermodal terminal when the government has announced its intention to publicly fund competing rail terminals rather than investing in the existing interstate network?”

Mr Scurrah argued taxpayers’ money should not be spent on replicating what the private sector is doing to build intermodal terminals.

“Rather than the federal government getting into the business of developing terminals, it should instead focus on upgrading existing tracks and helping local and state governments deliver enabling infrastructure for future intermodals,” he said.

“In this country, the private rail freight sector has a proud and successful history of constructing intermodal terminals in strategic locations to meet the needs of our many customers – long may this model continue.”