TasRail’s Intermodal customers require consistent and reliable train arrival and departure times. This is particularly important for those customers that require their product loading and/or unloading activities to be co-ordinated with domestic and international shipping schedules. Our credibility to attract and grow freight volumes for this business segment requires continuous improvement of performance and service levels, and it is pleasing to report that Intermodal train arrival performance improved from 77 per cent in 2010/2011 to 81.5 per cent in 2011/2012. Train departure performance, which significantly influences train arrival times, also increased to 91 per cent in 2011/2012, up from 84 per cent the previous financial year.
For Bulk commodity customers, their priority is to ensure that TasRail provides a constant service that meets the required accumulated tonnage movement over a period of time. A measure of TasRail’s service performance is therefore our capacity to ensure all required volumes are ship loaded and exported in quantities consistent with customer orders, shipping manifests and sailing schedules. In 2011/2012 TasRail met all required shipments for Bulk commodities.
Establishing new services
A major milestone during the reporting period was the recommencement of freight services between Launceston and Burnie and Launceston and Hobart. Integral to TasRail’s ability to start-up these new services was the re-opening of the rail siding at East Tamar, owned by the Toll Group. It had been five years since container rail services had last operated into and out of Launceston and when Toll approached TasRail to undertake the task as a matter of urgency, it was satisfying to demonstrate our capability to quickly respond to customer need by successfully mobilising our resources within the timeframe required. Initial freight volumes have been solid with 7,542 tonnes (568 TEU) being railed from Launceston to Burnie and 6,312 tonnes (368 TEU) between Burnie and Launceston. As at 30 June 2012, the Launceston to Hobart service had only just commenced, but forecast freight volumes are promising for 2012/2013. TasRail considers that servicing this region is key to market growth.
Other accomplishments of note during the reporting period included the relocation of the TasRail Train Control Centre from East Tamar to TasRail’s Head Office at the Launceston Techno Park. The Train Control Centre operates 24/7 and is a critical function accountable for controlling all track access and safe rail movement across the network. The relocation was not without challenge, but was achieved without issue. The new Train Control Centre offers improved amenities and an improved interface with Train Planning and Customer Service Staff. There is also the capacity to operate two Train Control desks if required during peak access periods. The East Tamar Train Control Centre will remain in situ until TasRail’s plans for a more modern Train Control System are implemented. TasRail went to the market in November 2011 (through an Expressions of Interest process) for the design, supply and installation of the new system. At the time of writing this report, negotiations with a preferred supplier are well progressed.
In tandem with the relocation of Train Control to the Techno Park, TasRail commenced a review to optimise the way its Customer Service, Train Planning and Train Control functions interface. TasRail expects to implement the review recommendations by the end of 2012.