Pacific National

Industry Rail transport
Predecessor FreightCorp
National Rail
Founded February 2002
Headquarters Melbourne, Australia
Area served
Mainland Australia
Services Bulk Services, Intermodal, Network and Operation Services
Revenue $2.378 billion (June 2013)
Total assets 596 locomotives and 12,875 wagons (June 2012)
Number of employees
over 4,000
Parent Australian Logistics Acquisition Investments Pty Limited

Pacific National is one of Australia's largest rail freight businesses. Formed in February 2002 as a joint venture between Patrick Corporation and Toll Holdings, which formed the holding company Asciano Limited. It is now a subsidiary of Australian Logistics Acquisition Investments Pty Limited.


NR16 hauling The Overland at North Shore in November 2008

In February 2002 National Rail's freight operations and rollingstock (owned by the Federal, New South Wales and Victorian Governments) were combined with FreightCorp (owned by the New South Wales Government)[1] and sold to a joint venture between Patrick Corporation and Toll Holdings as Pacific National.[2]

In February 2004 Pacific National purchased Australian Transport Network, operator of ATN Access and AN Tasrail.[3][4] In August 2004 Pacific National purchased Freight Australia, giving Pacific National control of the Victorian non-urban rail track, excluding the interstate network which is controlled by the Australian Rail Track Corporation.[5]

Pacific National trains departing from Bathurst, February 2009

As part of the sale conditions the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission attached special conditions to the sale to ensure competition in the rail freight industry.[6] The company was required to provide a 'starter pack' of locomotives, wagons, train paths, and freight terminals for a third party rail operator on the east-west route across the Nullarbor Plain. To fulfill this Pacific National sold nine refurbished G class locomotives to competitor SCT Logistics to allow it to operate its own services[7]

In March 2005 Pacific National Queensland became the first non-Queensland Rail narrow gauge commercial rail operation in Queensland, with the commencement of container services between Brisbane and Cairns.[8][9]

In November 2006 Pacific National entered into an agreement to sell the remainder of its Victorian rail lease of the network back to the Victorian Government.[10] The sale was completed in May 2007, with the government owned V/Line taking over management of the track.[11]

In 2005 Toll Holdings launched a hostile takeover bid for its joint venture partner Patrick Corporation which was successful giving Toll Holdings 100% ownership of Pacific National.[12] In 2007 Toll Holdings was restructured into two separately ASX listed companies: Toll Holdings and Asciano Limited. As part of this restructure, Pacific National became a wholly owned subsidiary of Asciano Limited.[13]

In 2009 Pacific National Queensland further expanded their narrow gauge operations, entering the export coal market dominated by incumbent Queensland Rail.[14]

In 2016, Asciano agreed to sell Pacific National to Australian Logistics Acquisition Investments Pty Limited, a consortium of Global Infrastructure Partners, CPP Investment Board, China Investment Corporation, GIC Private Limited and British Columbia Investment Management Corporation.[15] The transfer was completed on 19 August 2016.[16]


Tasmania 2005

In September 2005 Pacific National angered the Tasmanian State and Australian Federal Governments when it threatened to withdraw all services unless the governments paid a $100 million subsidy.[17] Initially the governments refused to act on the issue claiming they would not be "held to mercy" by Pacific National, owned by Toll and Patrick Corporation, "which are extremely profitable multi-national companies". However, state infrastructure minister Bryan Green and federal counterpart transport minister Warren Truss announced a $120 million rescue package.[18]

In May 2007 the Tasmanian Government, the Federal Government and Pacific National came to an agreement regarding the funding, ownership and operation of the Tasmanian railway network; with the Tasmanian Government acquiring the railway infrastructure previously leased to Pacific National, who would continue to provide above rail services on the network.[19] In September 2009 the Tasmanian Government purchased the Tasmanian rail business, with rail infrastructure and railway operations to be maintained, managed and owned by a new TasRail.[20]

Rural services 2007

In December 2007 Pacific National announced plans to sell or close its grain transport and Portlink rural container business operations in Victoria, selling or closing Patrick's intermodal freight business in Tasmania, and downsizing to a bare minimum Pacific National's grain operations across New South Wales.[21] The decision was criticised as it forced grain growers to use higher cost road transport to transport the annual grain harvest from rural silos to the ports.[22] The decision has seen many commentators accuse Pacific National of acquiring the operations of Freight Australia in 2004 only for the purposes of asset stripping and eliminating competition in rail freight.[23]

The company has told competitors wanting to acquire unwanted rolling stock from the company, that it would rather scrap wagons or export them to Saudi Arabia before they would be made available domestically.[24]

The container freight service to Horsham, Victoria was almost cancelled in April 2008 but was given a three-month reprieve by the company.[25][26] In July 2008 the service was taken over by QR National.[27]


Pacific National operates in all mainland states and territories. As at June 2012 the company operates 596 locomotives and 12,875 wagons.[28][29] Services include bulk freight (coal, grain, steel, ores), intermodal containers (domestic and export), and specialised services such as 'hook and pull' for long-distance passenger trains.

Pacific National has five separate operating divisions, which operate as separate companies for accounting reasons,[30] and often do not share locomotives with other divisions. The divisions are:[31]

The Pacific National steel contract was renewed with BlueScope Steel and OneSteel in 2006 for $1bn, making it the largest ever freight rail contract in Australia. The deal involves haulage of about 3 million tonnes of steel over seven years.[32] Pacific National has intermodal freight facilities at the Brisbane Freight Terminal in Queensland, the Melbourne Freight Terminal in Victoria, the Sydney Freight Terminal in New South Wales, and the Kewdale Freight Terminal in Western Australia.

In 2011 Pacific National merged the divisions of Intermodal and Bulk Rail to form the new division of Pacific National Rail. This new division, referred to as PNR, has slowly seen the combining of management and training structures. As of May 2012 each division still lists its own separate revenue and loss making figures.

Current locomotive fleet

Class Image Type Gauge Top speed
Built Number Notes
Rural and Bulk Division
45 Diesel-electric Standard 115 1962 2 Ex Patrick Corporation. All stored.
48 Diesel-electric Standard 115 1959-1970 48 Ex FreightCorp. 15 stored.
80 Diesel-electric Standard 115 1979-1983 20 Ex FreightCorp. 12 stored.
81 Diesel-electric Standard 115 1982-1991 83 Ex FreightCorp
830 Diesel-electric 115 1960-1963 3 Ex Australian Transport Network. All stored.
A Diesel-electric Broad 115 1984 7 Ex Freight Australia. All stored.
G Diesel-electric Broad, Standard 115 1985-1989 20 Ex National Rail Corporation and Freight Australia. 9 sold to SCT Logistics in 2007.
H Diesel-electric Broad 100 1968 5 Ex Freight Australia. 4 stored.
L Diesel-electric Standard 115 1967-1969 3 Ex Australian Transport Network. All stored.
P Diesel-electric Broad 100 1985 5 Ex Freight Australia. All stored.
PL Diesel-electric Standard 115 1999-2001 7 Ex FreightCorp. 1 stored.
S Diesel-electric Broad, Standard 115 1957 3 Ex Freight Australia. 2 stored.
T Diesel-electric Broad, Standard 100 1964-1968 5
X Diesel-electric Broad, Standard 115 1966-1976 21 Ex Freight Australia. 4 stored.
XR Diesel-electric Broad, Standard 115 2002-2006 9 6 ex Freight Australia, 3 built in-house.
Y Diesel-electric Broad, Standard 65 1963-1968 11 Ex Freight Australia. 1 stored.
RT Diesel mechanical Broad, Standard 15 1957-1969 22 Ex Freight Australia. 4 stored.
Intermodal Division
93 Diesel-electric Standard 115 2012-2013 17 3 more on order
AN Diesel-electric Standard 115 1992-1993 10 Ex National Rail Corporation.
BL Diesel-electric Standard, Broad 115 1983-1984 10 Ex National Rail Corporation.
DL Diesel-electric Standard 115 1988-1990 14 Ex National Rail Corporation. 3 stored.
NR Diesel-electric Standard 115 1996-1999 119 Ex National Rail Corporation.
XRB Diesel-electric Standard 115 2005-2006 3 Built in-house.
Coal Division
82 Diesel-electric Standard 115 1994-1995 55 Ex FreightCorp.
90 Diesel-electric Standard 80 1994-2005 35 Ex FreightCorp.
92 Diesel-electric Standard 115 2008-2009 15 Ex FreightCorp.
D16 Diesel-electric Standard 35 1959-1964 5 Ex BlueScope Steel. 3 stored.
D35 Diesel-electric Standard 50 1975 1 Ex BlueScope Steel.
PB Diesel-electric hybrid Standard 80 2014- 1 6 on order.
TT Diesel-electric Standard 115 2009-2012 37
V Diesel-electric Standard 115 2002 1 Ex Freight Australia.
Pacific National Queensland
71 Electric Narrow 80 2009-2011 32
83 Diesel-electric Narrow 100 2008-2013 46
88 Diesel-electric Narrow 100 2014 5
PN Diesel-electric Narrow 100 2005 13
PH37ACmai Diesel-electric Narrow 100 3 on order[33]

In addition, Pacific National leases locomotives from CFCL Australia and operates three WH class locomotives on behalf of Whitehaven Coal.

Former fleet

Class Image Type Gauge Top speed
Built Number Notes
Pacific National Queensland
MKA Diesel-electric Narrow 80 1967-1972 3 Purchased from Malaysia. Used in Queensland 2004-2006. Transferred to Pacific National Tasmania. Sold to TasRail.

All Pacific National Tasmania locomotives were sold to TasRail in 2009.


  1. "FreightCorp for sale with National Rail" Railway Digest October 2000 page 17
  2. Freightcorp and National Rail Corporation sold to National Rail Consortium for one billion dollars ABC News 31 January 2002
  3. Acquirer: Pacific National Pty Ltd; Target: Australian Transport Network Ltd Australian Competition & Consumer Competition 30 March 2004
  4. Re: Pacific National - Australian Transport Network Ltd Toll Group 26 February 2004
  5. Victorian Government grants consent to Pacific National acquisition of Freight Australia Toll Group 16 August 2004
  6. Sydney Morning Herald: 'ACCC won't oppose Freight Australia takeover' - 2 July 2004
  7. "Toll boss bows to ACCC pressure" Courier Mail 13 December 2005
  8. "Pacific National Queensland". Retrieved 22 June 2010.
  9. Jenny Woodward (11 March 2005). "Making Tracks". Stateline Queensland. Retrieved 22 June 2010.
  10. Pacific National sells Victorian rail network to Government Toll Group 1 November 2006
  11. Minister for Public Transport: "Rail Buy Back Deal Complete" 7 May 2007
  12. Game over: Toll takes Patrick Sydney Morning Herald 14 April 2006
  13. "Toll Holdings Restructure". Toll Holdings. Retrieved 2 October 2007.
  14. Jennifer Perry (20 May 2009). "PN commences QLD coal haulage operations". Rail Express. Retrieved 22 June 2010.
  15. "Pacific National sold to international pension funds". International Railway Journal. 15 March 2016.
  16. "Asciano completes Pacific National ownership deal". International Railway Journal. 23 August 2016.
  17. "Govt signs off on Tassie rail package". ninemsn. 29 September 2005. Retrieved 2 November 2006.
  18. Tas govt wins control of rail network The Age 12 December 2005
  19. "Tasmanian Railway Network Declaration Application" (PDF). National Competition Council. 1 May 2007. Retrieved 22 June 2010.
  20. Rail Sale Agreement Finalised Asciano 7 September 2009
  21. "Pacific National to sell or close rail freight business". ABC News website. 12 December 2007. Retrieved 17 December 2007.
  22. Easdown, Geoff (12 December 2007). "Asciano delivers grain haulage shock to farmers". Herald and Weekly Times website. Retrieved 17 December 2007.
  23. "Freight Australia Exiting". Railpage Australia forums. 12 December 2007. Retrieved 17 December 2007.
  24. Philip Hopkins (21 March 2008). "Off the rails". The Age. Retrieved 22 June 2008.
  25. "Rail freight woes spark crisis of confidence". ABC News. Retrieved 16 July 2008.
  26. "Three month extension for Wimmera rail freight services". ABC News. 24 April 2008. Retrieved 16 July 2008.
  27. "Rail to roll on". Wimmera Mail Times. 28 July 2008. Retrieved 30 July 2008.
  28. Pacific National Coal Asciano
  29. Pacific National Rail Asciano
  30. "Pacific National Policy Manual" (PDF). Essential Services Commission: Victoria. Retrieved 3 March 2008.
  31. "Pacific National Werris Creek Headquarters". Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 3 March 2008.
  32. "PacNat wins $1bn freight deal". 18 December 2006. Retrieved 18 December 2006.
  33. "UGL secures first Australian PowerHaul order". International Rail Journal. July 4, 2016.


  • Avery, Rod (2006). Freight Across the Nation: The Australian Superfreighter Experience. Brisbane: Copyright Publishing Co. ISBN 1876344474. 
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