Pacific National is one of Australia's largest rail freight businesses.

Pacific National Pty Ltd
Company typePrivate company
IndustryRail transport
National Rail
FoundedFebruary 2002
Area served
Mainland Australia
ServicesRail haulage services
RevenueDecrease A$2,378 million (June 2017)
Decrease A$443 million (June 2017)
Decrease A$260 million (June 2017)
Total assetsDecrease A$5,220 million (June 2017)
596 locomotives and 12,875 wagons (June 2012)
Total equityDecrease A$1,274 million (June 2017)
OwnerGlobal Infrastructure Partners, CPP Investment Board, China Investment Corporation, GIC Private Limited and British Columbia Investment Management Corporation
Number of employees
approx. 4,000
DivisionsBulk, Coal, Intermodal and Steel


NR16 hauling The Overland at North Shore, November 2008

In February 2002, National Rail's freight operations and rollingstock, jointly 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, trading 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 train departing from Bathurst, February 2009

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 fulfil that, Pacific National sold nine refurbished G class locomotives to competitor SCT Logistics to allow it to operate its own services.[7][dead link]

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 successful hostile takeover of its joint venture partner Patrick Corporation, 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 its narrow gauge operations, entering the export coal market, then dominated by incumbent Queensland Rail.[14]

In 2016, Asciano agreed to sell Pacific National to Australian Logistics Acquisition Investments Pty Ltd, 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]

In 2008, the company declined to sell wagons which had reached the end of their useful life to other Australian rail operators, indicating that the wagons would be scrapped or exported to Saudi Arabia.[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 and later Qube.[27]



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

The Pacific National steel contract was renewed with BlueScope 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.[30] 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, the Adelaide Freight Terminal in South Australia and the Kewdale Freight Terminal in Western Australia.

Current locomotive fleet

Class Image Type Gauge Top speed
Built Number Notes
Rural and Bulk Division
82   Diesel-electric Standard 115 1994-1995 54 Ex FreightCorp.
830   Diesel-electric 115 1960-1963 3 Ex Australian Transport Network. 1 on-sold, 1 scrapped, 1 stored
48   Diesel-electric Standard 115 1959–1970 48 Ex FreightCorp. 16 In service
80   Diesel-electric Standard 115 1979-1983 22 13 stored, 5 scrapped, 4 operational
81   Diesel-electric Standard 115 1982-1991 84 Ex FreightCorp 83 in service, 1 scrapped, 8108, 8117 & 8121 allocated to Intermodal
BL   Diesel-electric Standard, Broad 115 1983-1984 10 Ex National Rail Corporation. 9 in service. 1 stored
G   Diesel-electric Broad, Standard 115 1985-1989 20 Ex National Rail Corporation and Freight Australia. 9 sold to SCT Logistics in 2007. G526, G530, G537, G538 & G542 allocated to intermodal
P   Diesel-electric Broad 100 1985 5 Ex Freight Australia. 4 on-sold 1 stored
PL   Diesel-electric Standard 115 1999-2001 7 Ex FreightCorp, PL2-PL7 scrapped, PL1 in service port Augusta shunter
T   Diesel-electric Broad, Standard 100 1964-1968 12 Ex Freight Australia, 1 in service, 3 sold, 4 scrapped & 4 stored
X   Diesel-electric Broad, Standard 115 1966-1976 6 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. All on-sold except for Y124
RT   Diesel mechanical Broad, Standard 15 1957-1969 22 Ex Freight Australia. 4 stored.
Intermodal Division
94 Diesel-electric Standard 115 2024-Present 50 Fleet rejuvenation in intermodal/interstate operations, plus future Inland Rail. Will have the Evolution series engine. 'C44ESACi'
AN   Diesel-electric Standard 115 1992-1993 10 Ex National Rail Corporation. AN1, AN3 & AN8 in service
DL   Diesel-electric Standard 115 1988-1990 14 Ex National Rail Corporation. All stored.
XRB Diesel-electric Standard 115 2005 3 Cabless units, all stored
NR   Diesel-electric Standard 115 1996-1999 117 Ex National Rail Corporation.
Coal Division
93   Diesel-electric Standard 115 2012-2020 24
LDP   Diesel-electric Standard 115 2009-2010 9 LDP001-LDP009 Sold to Pacific National.
90   Diesel-electric Standard 80 1994-2005 35 Ex FreightCorp.
92   Diesel-electric Standard 115 2008-2009 15
TT   Diesel-electric Standard 115 2009-2012 40
Pacific National Queensland
71 Electric Narrow 80 2009-2011 42
83 Diesel-electric Narrow 100 2008-2013 52 8347-8352 entered service in 2018 ex Downer EDi.
88 Diesel-electric Narrow 100 2014 5
PN   Diesel-electric Narrow 100 2005 13
PH Diesel-electric Narrow 100 2014 3

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
A   Diesel-electric Broad 115 1984 7 Ex Freight Australia. 6 Scrapped (71, 77, 79, 81, 83 and 85) and 1 (78) donated to SRHC
S   Diesel-electric Broad, Standard 115 1957 3 Ex Freight Australia. S301, S306 & S307 all on sold to heritage groups in 2023 and 2024
D16 Diesel-electric Standard 35 1959-1964 12 Handed back to BlueScope
D35 Diesel-electric Standard 50 1975 1 Handed back to BlueScope.
PB   Hybrid Standard 80 2014- 7 Sold To watco
45 Diesel-electric Standard 115 1962 2 Ex Patrick Corporation. Both scrapped.
MKA Diesel-electric Narrow 80 1967-1972 3 Purchased from Malaysia. Used in Queensland 2004-2006. Transferred to Pacific National Tasmania. Sold to TasRail.
H   Diesel-electric Broad 100 1968 2 Ex Freight Australia. 1 stored. 3 sold to Ettamogah Rail Hub in 2015.
L Diesel-electric Standard 137 1967-69, 1972-73 2 Ex ATN Access. Both scrapped.
V Diesel-electric Standard 115 2002 1 Ex Freight Australia. Sold to One Rail Australia 5/2021.[31]

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. ^ Buchanan, Alison. "Freightcorp and National Rail Corporation sold to National Rail Consortium for one billion dollars". ABC Rural. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 7 January 2003. Retrieved 7 June 2023.
  3. ^ Acquirer: Pacific National Pty Ltd; Target: Australian Transport Network Ltd Archived 31 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine Australian Competition & Consumer Competition 30 March 2004
  4. ^ Re: Pacific National - Australian Transport Network Ltd Archived 19 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine Toll Group 26 February 2004
  5. ^ Victorian Government grants consent to Pacific National acquisition of Freight Australia Archived 19 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine Toll Group 16 August 2004
  6. ^ "Sydney Morning Herald: 'ACCC won't oppose Freight Australia takeover' - 2 July 2004". 2 July 2004. Archived from the original on 28 July 2009. Retrieved 9 October 2007.
  7. ^ Toll boss bows to ACCC pressure Courier Mail 13 December 2005
  8. ^ "Pacific National Queensland". Archived from the original on 23 March 2010. Retrieved 22 June 2010.
  9. ^ Jenny Woodward (11 March 2005). "Making Tracks". Stateline Queensland. Archived from the original on 11 November 2012. Retrieved 22 June 2010.
  10. ^ Pacific National sells Victorian rail network to Government Archived 19 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine Toll Group 1 November 2006
  11. ^ Minister for Public Transport: "Rail Buy Back Deal Complete" 7 May 2007 Archived 7 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Game over: Toll takes Patrick Archived 1 January 2007 at the Wayback Machine Sydney Morning Herald 14 April 2006
  13. ^ "Toll Holdings Restructure". Toll Holdings. Archived from the original on 30 August 2007. Retrieved 2 October 2007.
  14. ^ Perry, Jennifer (20 May 2009). "PN commences QLD coal haulage operations". Rail Express. Archived from the original on 1 October 2009. Retrieved 22 June 2010.
  15. ^ "Pacific National sold to international pension funds". International Railway Journal. 15 March 2016. Archived from the original on 28 August 2016. Retrieved 23 August 2016.
  16. ^ "Asciano completes Pacific National ownership deal". International Railway Journal. 23 August 2016. Archived from the original on 28 August 2016. Retrieved 23 August 2016.
  17. ^ "Govt signs off on Tassie rail package". ninemsn. 29 September 2005. Archived from the original on 18 November 2005. Retrieved 2 November 2006.
  18. ^ Tas govt wins control of rail network Archived 18 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine The Age 12 December 2005
  19. ^ "Tasmanian Railway Network Declaration Application" (PDF). National Competition Council. 1 May 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 February 2011. Retrieved 22 June 2010.
  20. ^ Rail Sale Agreement Finalised Archived 11 April 2013 at the Wayback Machine Asciano 7 September 2009
  21. ^ "Pacific National to sell or close rail freight business". ABC News website. 12 December 2007. Archived from the original on 14 December 2007. Retrieved 17 December 2007.
  22. ^ Easdown, Geoff (12 December 2007). "Asciano delivers grain haulage shock to farmers". Herald and Weekly Times website. Archived from the original on 6 June 2008. Retrieved 17 December 2007.
  23. ^ "Freight Australia Exiting". Railpage Australia forums. 12 December 2007. Archived from the original on 6 June 2008. Retrieved 17 December 2007.
  24. ^ Philip Hopkins (21 March 2008). "Off the rails". The Age. Archived from the original on 25 June 2008. Retrieved 22 June 2008.
  25. ^ "Rail freight woes spark crisis of confidence". ABC News. Archived from the original on 27 July 2009. Retrieved 16 July 2008.
  26. ^ "Three month extension for Wimmera rail freight services". ABC News. 24 April 2008. Archived from the original on 27 July 2009. Retrieved 16 July 2008.
  27. ^ "Rail to roll on". Wimmera Mail Times. 28 July 2008. Archived from the original on 29 July 2008. Retrieved 30 July 2008.
  28. ^ Pacific National Coal Archived 25 February 2013 at the Wayback Machine Asciano
  29. ^ Pacific National Rail Archived 11 February 2013 at the Wayback Machine Asciano
  30. ^ "PacNat wins $1bn freight deal". 18 December 2006. Archived from the original on 27 July 2009. Retrieved 18 December 2006.
  31. ^ "V544 to One Rail (Page 1) / Locomotives and Rolling Stock". Archived from the original on 25 September 2021. Retrieved 25 September 2021.


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