Tuesday 23rd Jul, 2019

Queensland freight rail travel times slashed by 50 minutes

Freight travel times between Mount Isa and Townsville will be reduced by 50 minutes due to upgrades undertaken while the rail line received emergency repairs.
Photo: ABC

Freight travel times between Mount Isa and Townsville will be reduced by 50 minutes due to upgrades undertaken while the rail line received emergency repairs.

The upgrades were undertaken during an 11-week recovery operation to restore the Mount Isa rail line after multiple sections were washed away in floodwaters during North Queensland’s unprecedented monsoonal weather in February.

Large scale rerailing and reconditioning works were able to be undertaken while crews had unlimited access.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the restoration works performed by a dedicated 400-person Queensland Rail (QR) taskforce created to fast track the repairs had upgraded sections of the line that were previously under speed restrictions.

“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,” Bailey said.

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“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.”

More than 200 sites across 300 kilometres of track needed repair, including 38 bridge abutments, the replacement of 47-kilometres of rail and 120,000 tonnes of ballast.

Queensland Rail CEO 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 Mount Isa will be a Pacific National service,” Easy said.

“This is a huge planning task, and a great example of the many pieces of the puzzle which have come together to allow the recovery of the Mount Isa line to be such a success.

“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.”