The future of the network has looked uncertain since
Asciano announced it would pull out of Tasmania last year because PNT
was unprofitable and infrastructure was in urgent need of investment. The
cost of the deal, which returns the railways to state control for the
first time since 1978, has not been disclosed, although the details of
the sale are likely to be made public when Asciano signs a formal
agreement with the state government on June 30.
No funding was set
aside for buying the railway in last month's state budget, and
infrastructure minister Mr Graham Sturges has suggested federal funds
may be required. "We have been quite hard in our negotiations to ensure
that nothing was left out and that we can guarantee a future for
freight rail in Tasmania," he says.
A Tasmanian newspaper reported
last week that Asciano had put PNT's entire operational fleet of 31
diesel locomotives up for sale, although Asciano said the state
government would be allowed first refusal on the assets before they
were offered to other railways. Last week Asciano threatened to close
the Burnie - Melba line, and part of the Hobart - Launceston line has
been closed since last month following a derailment.