Repair works put freight in the fast lane
It comes as the last section of track is due to be open within days, capping off an 11-week recovery operation after multiple sections of the line were washed away during North Queensland’s monsoonal weather in February.
Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the restoration works performed by a dedicated 400-person Queensland Rail taskforce had upgraded sections of the line that were previously under speed restrictions.
“QR made the most of the line’s closure to deliver large-scale maintenance activities such as rerailing and reconditioning works ahead of schedule while crews had unlimited access,” Mr Bailey said.
“This means QR can now remove previous speed and axle load restrictions on upgraded sections along the line, delivering a significant betterment for this critical north-west supply chain connecting industry to the Port of Townsville, supporting the local economy and local jobs.
“As a result, end-to-end run times between Townsville and Mount Isa will be reduced by up to 50 minutes."
“This is a great achievement by QR, and means that as services resume, industry will benefit from productivity enhancements made along the entire corridor.”
Final track inspections and preparations are underway ahead of the line re-opening to freight on Monday.
Queensland Rail chief executive officer Nick Easy said the focus had now shifted to liaising with freight partners to resume services on the line and facilitate extra runs to assist with moving additional product delayed by the extended closure.
“We anticipate the first freight train to depart Townsville and travel the entire length of the line to Mount Isa will be a Pacific National service,” Mr Easy said.
“The reopening of the entire corridor will significantly reduce the number of truck movements on the Flinders Highway and increase the productivity and efficiency of the north-west supply chain.
“This truly has been a team effort involving Queensland Rail staff and contractors from across the state, in addition to TMR and the Department of Housing and Public Works, who assisted Queensland Rail to establish temporary workers camps at Richmond and Julia Creek.”
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