WITH only three lakeside land lots available on the market, Fairfield Waters has become Townsville’s ultimate address for those looking to build their dream home.The estate has come a long way since inception in 2000 and now includes one school, major commercial precincts, and 40 hectares of lakes and landscaped outside space for residents to enjoy.The master planning of the 234-hectare development was recognised in the Urban Development Institute of Australia’s North Queensland Excellence Awards, which gave specific mention to the pre-planning that went into the estate.Fairfield Waters Developer Grant McOmish hailed the estate an overwhelming success. Directors of Fairfield Waters Development Grant McOmish and Col Harkness. Picture: Shae Beplate.More from news01:21Buyer demand explodes in Townsville’s 2019 flood-affected suburbs12 Sep 202001:21‘Giant surge’ in new home sales lifts Townsville property market10 Sep 2020“A significant amount of time was spent designing and planning the estate and the developers have successfully created a community that people love living in,” he said.“Living at Fairfield Waters means you can enjoy convenience and a great environment to relax in with your family.”Located on the fringe of the CBD, Fairfield Waters has become a growing and prospering community of over 2,300 families.There are only three lakeside land lots so anyone keen to build their home at Townsville’s ultimate lakefront address needs to get in quickThe lots start from $222,750 and a $10,000 rebate is on offer for lots settled prior 30 June. If this sounds like the location of your next dream home, visit fairfieldwaters.com.au for more information.
The formal living area at 41-43 Naomi Ct, Morayfield.“Joy is the gardener — she’s got the green thumb — I’m just the labourer,” Mr Tobler said. “Most of the gardens were here when we bought the place. We’ve just improved them, added a few more and added a concrete driveway.” Mr Tobler said as soon as the real estate agent turned into the driveway of the Morayfield property, he knew this would be the home his wife would want. The kitchen at 41-43 Naomi Ct, Morayfield.More from newsLand grab sees 12 Sandstone Lakes homesites sell in a week21 Jun 2020Tropical haven walking distance from the surf9 Oct 2019“It’s a haven really,” he said.“If you want privacy and quiet, it’s unbelievable … We’re back off the road and we very rarely hear anything from the street.” The double brick home has formal lounge and dining rooms, a big country kitchen and an open-plan living and meals area. The home at 41-43 Naomi Ct, Morayfield.THIS family home is tucked away on a secluded 9804sq m block backing on to a creek. The three-bedroom home at 41-43 Naomi Court, Morayfield, includes a two-way fireplace, country kitchen, patio and outdoor entertaining area. Charlie and Joy Tobler bought the home in 2002 and have transformed the gardens into a beautiful retreat. The family room at 41-43 Naomi Ct, Morayfield.There is a two-way fireplace that heats both the formal and informal living spaces. The kitchen includes stained glass, dishwasher, plenty of cupboard and bench space, and big windows looking out the lush gardens. The master bedroom has a walk-in wardrobe and ensuite and the two remaining bedrooms have built-in robes. The outdoor entertaining area at 41-43 Naomi Ct, Morayfield.The two dining areas open to the big back patio, where there is plenty of room for the outdoor furniture and barbecue. There is also a powered triple-bay shed on the property along with an oversized carport, double-bay wood shed, water tanks and solar panels.The home is being marketed by Trevor Hall, of Richardson & Wrench Caboolture, for offers over $685,000.
The home at 38 Delaney Rd, Burpengary.DESPITE an already huge floor area, the buyers of 38 Delaney Rd, Burpengary, which sold for $612,000 on August 18, plan to make the home even bigger.Raine & Horne agent, Francine Deeks, said they were attracted to the 370 sqm, four-bedroom, four-bathroom home because of its size, but the potential to create even more floor space sealed the deal.“The fact that it had a very high ceiling and was very big under the roof — the master suites were real master suites,” Ms Deeks said.More from newsLand grab sees 12 Sandstone Lakes homesites sell in a week21 Jun 2020Tropical haven walking distance from the surf9 Oct 2019“The new owners have got massive plans for it. They actually want to build into the alfresco area and make a big office.” The home at 38 Delaney Rd Burpengary.Ms Deeks said the home was beautifully presented with features such as timber-frame glass doors and a designer kitchen. It will be perfect for its new extended family, she said.“They were living down at the Brighton Sandgate area and they’re now going to be living with their parents here.”Ms Deeks said the market was attracting interstate investors and others seeking a better lifestyle. “It’s really good at the moment. We’ve got lots and lots of buyers from Sydney, Melbourne and all over the place,” she said.
The property is over 9,000sq m. The parking bay has the potential to be converted into a granny flat. There are many spots to put your feet up. More from newsFor under $10m you can buy a luxurious home with a two-lane bowling alley5 Apr 2017Military and railway history come together on bush block24 Apr 2019The tennis court has floodlights.The 9,000sq m block (over two acres) just over half an hour from the Brisbane CBD was like a private country club, complete with just about everything you could desire from a steam room that can take a dozen people at once, to a heated pool, floodlit tennis court, full theatre room and massive car parking for nine.Agent Brett Crompton of Ray White — Samford, who sold the home with Angela Galvin, said locals were driving the market in the area at the moment.“It was a local buyer. I believe the attraction was the size of the bedrooms, accessibility of separate living areas, car accommodation and the position.” Wonder if the chef will give cooking lessons? The home is understated but bursting with fun activities. Way to stay in for the night.Another property sold in the same estate also went to Brisbane buyers.“Those higher end properties are attracting local, Brisbane-based buyers, but as time progresses we will see more Sydney and Melbourne interest.”He said the Spring season was “absolutely fantastic” at the moment. “The market’s strong, we have a good range of quality buyers and properties entering the marketplace have great value.”Samford Valley is considered a high demand market, with 711 visits per property compared to the Queensland average of 307. Perfect spot to entertain friends and family. 12 Sovereign Way, Samford Valley Qld 4520. Picture: Realestate.com.auA SPRAWLING Brisbane home that has so much room you can have your own footy field has sold for twice the median price of its neighbourhood.The five bedroom home at 12 Sovereign Way, Samford Valley, which recently sold for $2.05 million has features that blow other Brisbane properties out of the water. It has its own gym with special flooring.
An analyst has predicted Brisbane could have the best performing capital city housing market in five years. Image: AAP/Claudia Baxter.BRISBANE is well placed to take over as the nation’s best performing capital city housing market in the next five years, a leading property analyst has predicted.But while the city looks set to benefit from better housing market conditions, don’t expect house prices to reach the giddy heights they have in Sydney and Melbourne.CoreLogic’s head of research and analytics, Tim Lawless, believes Brisbane’s property market could be a quiet achiever.GET THE LATEST REAL ESTATE NEWS DIRECT TO YOUR INBOX HEREHome values across the city have risen at an annual rate of 1.2 per cent in the past decade — half the pace of inflation and dramatically lower than Sydney or Melbourne where annual gains have averaged 6.3 per cent and 5.9 per cent, respectively, over the same period.CoreLogic head of research and analytics Tim Lawless.Mr Lawless believes the relative gap in pricing between Australia’s largest cities is likely to be one of the factors that attracts housing demand to Brisbane, as well as its affordability.“At the end of November 2017, Sydney house values were 102 per cent higher than Brisbane’s and Melbourne values were 57 per cent higher,” he wrote recently.“Based on median household incomes, Sydney households are earning only 12.9 per cent more than households in Brisbane and incomes across Melbourne are actually 0.7 per cent lower than Brisbane’s.“This is also visible from more formal affordability measures such as the dwelling price to income ratio and the proportion of household income required to service a mortgage.”1928 QUEENSLANDER SOLD FOR $510KLUXURY IN THE BUSHGIDDY UP FOR AUCTIONMore from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus21 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market21 hours agoHouses in the Brisbane suburb of Paddington. Photographer: Liam Kidston.In Sydney, the average house costs 9.1 times the average income, while in Brisbane, it only costs 5.9 times the average income.“Similarly, the proportion of gross annual household income required to service an 80 per cent LVR mortgage is now 48.4 per cent in Sydney compared with 39.9 per cent in Melbourne and 31.7 per cent in Brisbane,” Mr Lawless said.“Importantly, there are a variety of economic and demographic factors that are likely to support improving market conditions across Brisbane including economic and demographic trends as well as a worsening performance across the larger cities of Sydney and Melbourne which will provide a lower relative benchmark for Brisbane.”Among those factors is population growth, with overseas and interstate migration to southeast Queensland ramping up.Brisbane’s housing market is tipped to outperform in the next five years.Net interstate migration to Queensland is now the highest of any state, outpacing Victoria for the first time since June 2013.“Higher migration rates implies more demand for housing which should help to support an improvement in capital gains,” Mr Lawless said.He noted the state’s employment market was also improving.Jobs growth in Queensland is currently the fastest of any state or territory, with 113,000 jobs created over the past year.“Jobs are an essential component of a healthy housing market and a strong labour force has been a key missing ingredient from the Brisbane housing market up until recently,” Mr Lawless said.“The improved jobs sector, together with high rates of migration and an affordable mix of housing is a solid recipe for stronger housing market conditions.”But he warned that headwinds such as tighter lending conditions, an oversupplied unit market and higher household debt could prevent a surge in housing values.
How big is this house?More from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus21 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market21 hours ago 18 Davidson Terrace, Teneriffe, Qld 4005THIS “romantic old world” three bedder has sold for almost three times its last sale price in one of Queensland’s most elite neighbourhoods.The large two bathroom, twin garage home at 18 Davidson Terrace, Teneriffe, House, was on the market for just 21 days before it was snapped up for $2.325m in late December.The last time it hit the market was in June 2001 when it sold for $710,000. French doors let the city views into the living room. The home sits high with views across one of Queensland’s most elite neighbourhoods. The home (red roof) has double street frontage. What a charming spot. The property has two studios.The property was marketed as “a consummate example of the romantic old world charm of a bygone era”.It was on a 608sq m block with double street frontage in an area prized for its walking distance to restaurants, cafes, boutiques and shops at James Street.The property was so large it had room to build units underneath the house in an area currently used as multiple utility rooms.The home also has two separate studios and a 40,000 litre lap pool. FOLLOW SOPHIE FOSTER ON FACEBOOK
The new owner plans to update the home.According to Place – Bulimba agent Rachel Fechner, the home which was owned by the same family since it was constructed back in 1960 retained much of the look from that decade.“It’s not everyone’s cup of tea,” Ms Fechner said. Perfect for parties.But with a large 371 sqm of internal floorspace, including an expansive rumpus room and bar, the buyer saw a lot of potential in the home. “He had been looking for quite some time for a project, something he could bring a new vibe to and do it up,” she said. Among the unusual additions to the home are a wrought iron staircase, originally from the Commonwealth Bank building in George St, and 1960s era cream carpet. TIME WARP: A home that remained virtually unchanged since the 1960s was sold to a keen buyer right before auction.A massive home that looks like a time capsule of the 1960s was snapped up just hours before it was due to go to auction. Like stepping back in time.More from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus19 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market19 hours agoThe five-bedroom home at 56 Delsie St in Cannon Hill was set to be auctioned early yesterday morning before a buyer made a successful offer of $700,000 on late Friday night.
There is also a modern kitchen.Mr Maule said people loved coming to visit their “cute” and “cosy” home, with even passers-by giving it compliments.“People stop and say they love the house,” he said.“Others love coming over and spending time here because it has this character that modern houses don’t.” One of the bedrooms.More from newsCrowd expected as mega estate goes under the hammer7 Aug 2020Hard work, resourcefulness and $17k bring old Ipswich home back to life20 Apr 2020The couple gave the home a fresh and modern look with the bathroom and kitchen, but kept original chandelier light fittings and detailed cornices throughout. Open plan living.They said when they stepped inside 14 Clara St, they were transported to the past but saw what great potential the home had.“When we bought it, it was like stepping back in time,” Mr Maule said.Mr Maule and his wife put their time and energy into turning the post-war home into something truly unique.“We renovated and put a modern twist on it but kept the original charm,” he said. The home at 14 Clara St, Camp Hill, is for sale.When Brian and Claire Maule bought their first house in Camp Hill six years ago, they were purchasing it for its character. The open plan living area has original floorboards.While the Maules are looking forward to their move, it is bittersweet, with this being the place they brought their daughter, Sophia, 2, home to.“It’s our first house and first chance to do some renovations, and we had our family in this house,” he said.“It’s pretty sad to leave, but it’s time to let someone else enjoy it.”It is set to go to auction on May 12. The home has a modern bathroom.The home was previously fully carpeted, and the Maules were lucky to find the floorboards beneath in pristine condition. Almost everything else has been replaced, from new wiring to roof restorations, a new kitchen and landscaping, so its next owners can enjoy the charm and history of the home without having to worry about updating anything. The floorplan of 14 Clara St, Camp Hill.
This home at 64 Collings St, Geebung, sold for $495,000.THE market in Geebung is performing strongly, with this renovated three-bedroom 1950s cottage selling for $495,000.LJ Hooker Aspley sales manager Amanda Waters said the home at 64 Collings St was seen by about 45 groups over four weeks and received two written offers. The lounge room has charm.Ms Waters said the market in Geebung was strong at present.“There’s a huge demand for properties across the price ranges,” she said.“There’s good activity and we’re usually getting offers in the first or second open home.”Video Player is loading.Play VideoPlayNext playlist itemMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 3:17Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -3:17 Playback Rate1xChaptersChaptersDescriptionsdescriptions off, selectedCaptionscaptions settings, opens captions settings dialogcaptions off, selectedQuality Levels576p576p480p480p256p256p228p228pAutoA, selectedAudio Tracken (Main), selectedFullscreenThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsReset restore all settings to the default valuesDoneClose Modal DialogEnd of dialog window.This is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.Close Modal DialogThis is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.PlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 0:00Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -0:00 Playback Rate1xFullscreenMichelle Hele’s May market wrap03:17 There are polished wooden floors throughout the home.Ms Waters said potential buyers were a mixture of families wanting to move straight in and investors looking to renovate further.“We had a lot of interest from both owner-occupiers and investors,” Ms Waters said.More from newsFor under $10m you can buy a luxurious home with a two-lane bowling alley5 Apr 2017Military and railway history come together on bush block24 Apr 2019“We ended up having one offer from an investor but the house sold to a young family who plan to live there long term.” An enclosed veranda makes for a great dining room.The buyers were attracted to the classic style of the home.“They were particularly looking for a home with character,” Ms Waters said.“It had been renovated so it had an updated kitchen and bathroom, a lovely backyard and a deck for entertaining.”
INTRO: A unique opportunity to restructure Australia’s fragmented and neglected rail network into a profitable industry providing cost-effective, reliable and safe transport will be lost if the federal and state governments fail to create the right framework for private investmentBYLINE: John KirkDirectorAustralasian Railway AssociationTHERE IS A HIGH level of optimism about the future of rail in Australia. Evidence of this can be found in the strong private sector interest among bidders in the sale of Australian National, the price paid by the successful bidders (A$95·4m), and the number of privately funded rail projects in progress or planned. In addition, three private companies are successfully operating freight trains in the east – west corridor.Against this background, it is very difficult to provide a frank analysis of the current situation without being accused of talking down the future of the industry, and thus devaluing publicly-owned assets which are up for sale.It is especially hard for the Director of a relatively new (but very pro-active) industry body – the Australasian Railway Association (see box p698) – to caution against the implicit assumption that the private sector operators can somehow find a way of sorting out fundamental problems such as gross inconsistencies in road and rail infrastructure pricing and funding. Railway reform can succeed in Australia as it has done in New Zealand, Japan and elsewhere. But the policy framework does have to be right, and in Australia it is seriously defective.Reform, with or without privatisation, will not work where there is a substantial legacy of under-investment in rail infrastructure, fragmentation of safety and technical standards, and grossly inadequate recovery of external costs (including road provision) from competing road transport.The business community in Australia has come to understand the potential of rail to conquer the ’tyranny of distance’. Rail is being considered as a key line-haul link in the logistics chain, and some potential buyers of privatised organisations see big opportunities in this sector.Despite all the uncertainties and dithering at the political level, three private train operators have entered the east – west corridor. Using hired traction, crews and wagons, Specialised Container Transport and TNT Australia are operating between Melbourne and Perth, and Patrick Stevedores between Melbourne and Adelaide.The question is: how do we persuade our politicians that rail freight is worth taking seriously, and help them to understand what changes are essential for sustained success? Aside from lobbying and campaigning by ARA and other bodies, the federal government has taken two initiatives that may produce policy directions in due course.First, it has created the National Transport Council to improve the quality of industry advice to the Minister of Transport, John Sharp; Vince Graham, Managing Director of NRC, represents rail. Secondly, it has set up an inquiry into the role of rail in national transport by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications, Transport & Macroeconomic Reform.A third initiative, taken by the transport ministers through the Australian Transport Council, was to call a Rail Summit in Melbourne on September 10. Although the catalyst was the argument over which line should be built to Darwin (box p697), rail industry leaders were confident that a number of more useful outcomes might be achieved.Foremost on their shopping list was the establishment of a government funded national rail research body similar to the National Road Transport Commission, which has been very successful in harmonising road regulations and determining reforms that have improved the quality and efficiency of trucking. The other issues included the need for intermodal competitive neutrality, the cost of network access, the role of government in infrastructure investment, and the application of consistent rigorous assessment criteria to all transport investment.Conflicting objectivesThe political structure of Australia, which is a federation of six states and two territories, leads inevitably to a conflict of objectives not only between the federal government in Canberra and the state governments, but also between one state and another.Land transport is a state responsibility. Australia’s notorious gauge problem – alleviated if not resolved by conversion of the principal interstate routes to standard gauge between 1930 and 1995 – is one of the more visible results.Less obvious, but highly relevant to the development of a national interstate network open to competing private train operators, are the many complex and differing safety and technical standards evolved by the government railways in each state. These pose a serious barrier to new and existing operators who want to invest in rolling stock and operate with maximum efficiency.After lengthy negotiations, the Intergovernmental Agreement on Rail Safety came into effect on July 1 1996. This provides for a national system of safety accreditation of owners and operators based on Australian Standard AS4292, although accreditation is still a state rather than a national responsibility. The agreement does not deal with technical standards affecting the registration of rolling stock, nor does it have any impact on the plethora of safe-working and communications systems across the nation.Some 14 months after it should have come into force on July 1 1996, this agreement has still not been signed by Tasmania and the Northern Territory. Some states have yet to enact their legislation to implement properly the first of the much-needed national reforms. But the National Accreditation Guidelines prepared by the state regulators have already come under fire from the rail industry. Government and private operators large and small are critical of the costs involved in meeting the guidelines which do not conform to AS 4292.If reaching agreement on purely technical issues such as safety standards is so tortuous, it is hardly surprising that the policy objectives of the governments are seriously out of step.AN sale in progressThe Federal and Victorian governments are moving rapidly to privatise their rail operations. The announcement of the successful bidders for the three AN business units was expected in early August, but several bidders were called to submit revised offers for further consideration by the Federal Office of Asset Sales. On August 28 the federal transport minister John Sharp announced that AN would be sold to three separate consortia (p703).The Federal Government has also said that it intends to sell its shares in National Rail Corporation by the end of 1998, a move that is supported by the board and senior management. The other two shareholders, Victoria and New South Wales, are expected to sell their shares too.Withheld from the sale of AN assets were the standard gauge interstate routes linking South Australia with WA, NSW, Victoria and the NT. It is proposed that these lines will be managed by a federal agency, but until this is established AN’s Track Access unit will continue to manage them and charge access fees to train operators. The unit is directly responsible to the federal transport minister in Canberra.Negotiations are under way with the relevant states to resolve the issues stalling the creation of a national track access regime. The federal government has made some funding available from July 1 1998 to enable the regime to commence business.In Victoria, the Public Transport Corporation is being restructured into stand-alone businesses which are destined for sale. Victorian Rail Track Corporation (VicTrack) will maintain and manage access to the non-metropolitan non-electrified infrastructure including the two standard gauge interstate routes from Melbourne to the NSW and South Australian borders.Originally, the government said it would retain ownership of rail infrastructure, but recent announcements indicate that all assets may in fact be sold.V/Line Freight Corp is expected to be sold as a train operator in 1998. Competitors will be able to negotiate with VicTrack for access rights, on terms which the establishing legislation merely says must be ’fair and reasonable’. They can also use the Trade Practices Act to obtain access if negotiations are unsuccessful.There are country passenger services radiating from Melbourne on five routes. Trains on the routes to Warrnambool and Shepparton are already operated by private companies under slightly different arrangements. West Coast Railways and Hoys have seven-year franchises for their respective services, beginning in July and August 1994. WCR owns its own rolling stock, whilst Hoys leases from the PTC. Both pay access fees for the routes between Melbourne and the destinations, and both receive a CSO contribution for state-imposed concession terms. The remaining services operated by the PTC will be put out to tender by the state government as part of the PTC privatisation. The PTC operates an extensive network of heavy rail and tram/light rail routes covering the built-up zone in and around Melbourne. The electric suburban train service will be split for sale into two networks, and the tramways into two.Privatisation not universalThus far, the governments of Western Australia, Queensland and NSW have not said that they intend to privatise their railways.Westrail and Queensland Rail remain vertically integrated businesses, and the fact that both are profitable (apart from explicit subsidy for urban and country passenger trains) means that pressure for restructuring is muted.Nevertheless, both states are setting up open access regimes that should eventually allow new entrants to compete with the government railways. A Queensland Competition Authority is being put in place to administer the open access regime and arbitrate on disputes between QR and new entrants.Queensland is the only government to have implemented a long term programme of investment in rail infrastructure so as to bring it up to modern standards. In addition to new and upgraded heavy haul lines moving coal to the sea for export, major improvements have been made to the trunk line between Brisbane and Cairns including deviations and electrification throughout south of Rockhampton. However, it should be noted that the QR investment of over A$700m was funded through borrowings to be paid back with interest, unlike the billions of dollars of state grants sunk into road improvements.New South Wales is the only state to sign a long-term (7-year) CSO agreement. NSW is also investing A$250m a year into capital works and A$500m for routine and periodic maintenance of rail infrastructure. Last year, NSW split its State Rail Authority into four organisations handling passengers, freight, track access and infrastructure maintenance.The Rail Access Corp manages the infrastructure, outsourcing the actual work of maintenance and construction, and arranges access for train operators within the provisions of the Trade Practices Act. The negotiated price must meet the direct cost and full incremental cost imposed by the operator’s trains, and the rate of return on RAC’s assets must not exceed 14%. The government-owned Railway Services Authority is the incumbent maintenance contractor for much of RAC’s network. RSA provides construction, maintenance and technical advice to RAC under a series of Deeds of Agreement. Infrastructure maintenance work is now open to competition from the private sector, starting with the East Hills line in the Sydney suburbs.NSW’s major rail freight operator is now known as FreightCorp, but remains state-owned. It has recently won large long-term contracts to haul coal from the Hunter Valley against threatened private competition, and is launching other innovative freight services for its customers. The residual State Rail Authority remains responsible for country, commuter and urban passenger operations.Absence of policyWhat is clearly evident from both the Commonwealth and Victoria asset sales is the lack of any real transport policy, such as exists in Queensland, for example. Both governments simply want to rid themselves of the troublesome railway as quickly as possible, while generating as much cash as they can from sales.In the case of AN, the government was extremely happy with the results of the sale, with final bids higher than expected. This was despite some comment from bidders expressing dismay at the short time frame, and many changes to the bidding parameters.Indeed, comparing the recent privatisation of airports with the sale of AN, some commentators attributed the difference in approach to the government’s lack of understanding of the role of rail in the nation’s transport task.For example, how can investors judge the prospects for making a return on AN assets when a conflict of objectives exists over track access regimes and private investment in the infrastructure?Notwithstanding the One Nation programme of 1992-95, which saw Melbourne – Adelaide converted to standard gauge (RG 7.95 p445) and modest improvements to the Melbourne – Brisbane route, the federal government has shown no consistency in funding rail and road investment. Despite claims by the Federal Minister for Transport that the government’s objective is to make rail more competitive with road, the 1997-98 federal budget allocates A$175m over four years from 1998-99 for main line rail infrastructure upgrading compared to A$1 600m for road spending in just the one financial year. Over the past 20 years the federal government has spent A$1·5bn on rail investment and A$32bn on roads.Track access debateThe whole question of control and charging for track access is the subject of heated debate, and delicate negotiations began in July with the aim of thrashing out a solution by September 10. At the time of writing two initiatives were being taken, and the Federal Minister of Transport was confident that a national access regime could be established. The Commonwealth Department of Transport is negotiating with each of the states to establish an agreed position, and at the same time the state access providers are engaged in discussions to try and determine an industry solution. As well as funding and control issues, the state infrastructure providers are looking to improve service to operators through greater uniformity in terms of operation, communications and safe-working practices. The proliferation of accreditation agencies alone has created a barrier to new entrants and imposed a huge cost burden on existing operators.Track Australia, proposed by the former Labour government, was to have owned and controlled access to the interstate trunk lines (at least) so that operators between the major cities would have only one organisation to deal with. This fading dream is now being revived by access providers, who are discussing a possible ’one stop shop’ for all operators both interstate and intrastate.The federal government has put forward a number of models for a national track access regime. The model currently favoured by the Federal Departments of Finance and Treasury sees the states retaining ownership of the track, and the Commonwealth providing a centralised ’one-stop shop’ to broker deals between operators and the state access providers. Initially, the eastern states were said to favour this because they have significant intrastate traffic over which they wish to retain control. The model favoured by Federal Minister for Transport John Sharp would see Commonwealth control over the network through a national authority, but with the states making financial contributions towards the maintenance of the assets.The major sticking points to an agreed outcome are: who should fund the ongoing maintenance and upgrading of the network; the passing of control over state infrastructure to the Commonwealth; and access pricing policy. The states want the Commonwealth to pay for interstate rail infrastructure in the same way as they pay for national highways and roads of national importance. The Commonwealth wants the states to contribute.The eastern states are resisting any form of national control over their corridors, as this would continue the duplication of access agencies. The operation of a small percentage of interstate business could also unduly affect the much larger volume of intrastate activity; the tail wagging the dog! Solutions being proposed include the creation of a board representing access providers to manage track access, and substantial Commonwealth funding to separate the freight and urban passenger networks in Sydney to ease peak-hour congestion.What is urgently needed is the alignment of financial and managerial responsibility, and of ownership and investment. The operators want a workable and affordable solution. The access providers are trying to find an acceptable solution. The federal government is also trying to find a solution. But until the conflicting objectives and political agenda can be resolved, the conundrum remains.Private funding soughtThe Commonwealth wants to see private investment in rail infrastructure; the transport minister has said many times that rail users must pay for the upgrading and maintenance of the infrastructure they use. This would be fine if road freight operators were required to do the same, but studies show that they are only contributing about a quarter of the amount required. In contrast, although both road and rail operators pay diesel fuel excise, about 60% of the duty paid on loco fuel goes on road improvements.Private train operators simply cannot compete with truckers on these terms. Some are asking for zero access charges in the Melbourne – Sydney – Brisbane corridor as a way of compensating for the huge investment which is going into parallel highways, which are constantly being improved at public expense.No responsible investor would put money into rail infrastructure on this basis, especially as a large part of the interstate network has been neglected for decades and is incapable of being operated efficiently because speeds are low and many passing loops too short.Also, the private sector is unlikely to invest in state-based railways. What they want is an integrated national trunk network owned and managed by one central authority, whether publicly or privately controlled. This is the conundrum for government.Developing a national policyThe absence at the federal level of any coherent policy to develop a commercial rail freight industry that can compete effectively with road and win back not just tonnage but market share is a very serious deficiency.A business environment survey by the OECD’s Economic Intelligence Unit, published in May, ranked Australia 12th out of 58 countries, but the quality and extensiveness of rail infrastructure was in the lowest tier of indicators (2 out of 5) along with strikes, skill shortages and restrictive labour laws.Despite this handicap, rail managed to haul 100 billion net tonne-km in 1994-95, which is 56% of the combined road and rail freight task outside urban areas. Admittedly, a high proportion of this is accounted for by heavy haul operations in Queensland and Western Australia which in general have not lacked private or public investment.But the remarkable transformation of privately owned, unsubsidised and vertically integrated railways in the USA from near bankruptcy in the 1970s to highly effective competition with road for general freight in the 1990s shows what key legislative and policy changes can achieve. oCAPTION: National Rail is taking delivery of 120 new NR class diesels from A Goninan & Co in Perth and Newcastle. Two NRs and a Clyde-EMD DL class tackle the steep curves and sharp grades in northern SA with a 1·5 km long Perth – Sydney superfreighterCAPTION: NSW Freight Corp uses Canadian-built 90 class diesels under a Clyde-EMD power-by-the-hour contract for its lucrative Hunter Valley coal operations, which may soon be challenged by private competitorsCAPTION: Australian National’s Leigh Creek coal business accounted for about one-third of its South Australian revenue, but instead of including it in the sell-off, ownership was transferred to South Australia power company Optima Energy, significantly reducing the sale valueCAPTION: Australia’s first privatised country passenger service links Melbourne and Warrnambool in Victoria; West Coast Railway’s ’WestCoaster’ is headed by an overhauled 40-year-old EMD S class dieselCAPTION: National Rail has introduced double-stack operation on the Trans-Australia route across the Nullarbor. Originating in Melbourne, the new 5-pack wagons on this Perth-bound superfreighter were ’doubled up’ in Adelaide for the 110 km/h trunk haulUn vide politique obscurcit un brillant avenirLes chemins de fer australiens font actuellement l’objet d’une restructuration massive visant à privatiser une majeure partie, voire l’industrie entière. Mais le prix que les sociétés devront payer pour acquérir les marchés à vendre – dont un grand nombre sont en perte à l’heure actuelle, est déprimé par le manque des politiciens fédéraux à comprendre le besoin de réforme structurale du secteur des transports préalablement à la privatisationPolitisches Vakuum trübt sonnige ZukunftAustraliens Eisenbahnen werden einer massiven Umstrukturierung unterzogen, die auf eine Privatisierung eines großen Teils, wenn nicht des gesamten Wirtschaftszweigs abzielt. Der Preis, den Unternehmen für den Erwerb der zum Verkauf stehenden Geschäfte – von denen viele zur Zeit Verluste machen – zahlen werden, wird allerdings dadurch herabgesetzt, daß bundesstaatliche Politiker nicht die Notwendigkeit einer strukturellen Reform des Verkehrssektors vor einer Privatisierung verstehenEl vacío político plantea nubes a un futuro brillanteLos ferrocarriles australianos est