Following a competitive procurement process, Macquarie Capital has been appointed as business adviser and Herbert Smith Freehills as legal adviser for the study.

The advisers will provide independent advice and recommendations on possible future management, operation and ownership options for ARTC. They will also consider the implications of the Inland Rail project between Melbourne and Brisbane for ARTC, in particular the possibility for ARTC to participate in any private sector financing, delivery and operation of the project.

The study will be required to analyse the Australian government's policy objectives including rail freight and competition policy and how this might impact the development of future management and ownership options for ARTC and the implications of these options for the national rail freight network.

It will assess how well these policy objectives could be achieved through different ownership models or reform of ARTC, which might also include strategies to address the sustainability of ARTC including options for private investment into specific capital projects including Inland Rail.

Future ownership options for ARTC under consideration include retention of its assets in part or in full, a trade sale or an Initial Public Offering. The study will provide an assessment of the readiness for partial or full sale of ARTC and an examination of the likely benefits.

The government will consider the scoping study in the context of its 2016 17 budget and despite media reports speculating otherwise, no firm decision has yet been made as to whether ARTC will be sold.

A precise valuation of ARTC is unclear, but its fixed assets have been ¬valued at $A 4.4bn ($US 3.2bn).