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10/10/2001



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Freight Australia bucks workforce-reducing trend


At a time when most major airlines are announcing massive layoffs and several Class Is are completing year-long workforce reductions, Freight Australia Oct. 5 marked a job-number milestone — exceeding 700 employees for the first time.
Although a 700-strong workforce doesn’t come close to the tens of thousands employed by most Class Is, Freight Australia has managed to boost its employee base 24 percent since RailAmerica Inc. acquired the former Victorian government-owned V/Line Freight in May 1999.
"We commenced operation with 570 permanent full-time employees [and] today, we employ 708 permanent full-time employees in Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia," said Freight Australia Chief Executive Officer Marinus van Onselen in a prepared statement. "[This] has been made possible — in fact necessary — by continuing success in expanding our markets and reclaiming freight business from road transport."
Freight Australia's financial performance — annual 2001 revenue is forecast at $210 million compared with V/Line's $100 million annual revenue in 1998 — has enabled the 2,480-mile railroad to employ more permanent workers, including apprentices, driver trainees and diesel maintainers.
"New jobs are always scarce in our community … this is the proverbial good news story," said van Onselen.


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