Tuesday 12th Nov, 2019

Mt Isa freight line to reopen following floods

John Holland has acquired RCR Tomlinson Group’s rail business in late December 2018, after the engineering firm was placed into voluntary administration.
Photo: Shutterstock

One of Queensland’s most important freight routes, the Mt Isa rail line, is expected to reopen on April 29 after sustaining damage from heavy flooding.

More than 400 Queensland Rail staff and contractors have worked 160,000 hours over the past 10 weeks to restore the rail infrastructure between Oorindi and Hughenden.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the Queensland Government made repairing the rail line its top priority.

“The Mount Isa Line plays a critical role connecting our region’s industries and communities,” Bailey said.

“More than 200 sites across 300 kilometres of the rail line required repairs, including from Hughenden to Richmond, Maxwellton to Nonda, and Tibarri to Oorindi, where there was significant flooding, washouts and erosion.

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“Over 47 kilometres of track and 38 bridge abutments were damaged, requiring over 120,000 tonnes of ballast to repair the line,” he said.

Queensland Rail CEO Nick Easy said final repair works are now underway between Nonda and Quarrels.

“Final works to be completed over the next week include ballast train drops and resurfacing, while final inspections and test trains have run the line, prior to the track reopening,” Easy said.

“At Nelia, the rail line has been rebuilt on a deviated route to allow trains to pass through the area while remediation works continue.

“Temporary transport facilities at Richmond and Hughenden will continue to be available until the line fully re-opens.”

Easy said the dedication of the taskforce and crews, despite difficult working conditions, ensured communities along the Mount Isa Line were connected with the rest of the state as quickly as possible.

“Staff and contractors have gone above and beyond for what was a momentous challenge to get freight moving again in the state’s north west,” Easy said.

“There were many local contractors who travelled to site from Townsville, Ingham, Rockhampton, Cloncurry, Richmond, and Mount Isa to assist our crews with a range of works including earthworks, traffic control and crane hire.

“Queensland Rail’s crews could also not have done it without support from Transport and Main Roads and the Department of Housing and Public Works, which helped to house hundreds of workers in temporary accommodation so the job could be done more quickly.