Activity around the north west Queensland town of Richmond is a symbol of investment into the Great Northern Railway line this financial year according to peak industry body, Mount Isa Townsville Economic Zone, or MITEZ
There’d been noticeably more activity along the MITEZ corridor since the finish of the wet season with work crews carrying out road and rail upgrades particularly in the mid-west, said CEO Glen Graham.
“MITEZ understands that in 2019-20, $60 million is planned to be invested in total on the rail line, including $20 million of capital investment on track infrastructure renewals that are currently occurring around Richmond,” Mr Graham said.
“Queensland Rail is undertaking renewal works on the Mount Isa line through re-sleepering and undercutting.
“Changing sleepers from steel to concrete and the removal of old ballast will see the reduction in speed restrictions and will also decrease the risk of track buckles in hot weather in these locations.”
Rail services have been planned around these closures which will run through until September 2020.
Richmond Shire Council supported the project by ensuring the essential works were able to occur during these changing times said Mayor John Wharton.
“With approximately 50 Queensland Rail staff staying in accommodation in Richmond each week, bringing a welcome boost to the local economy in Richmond,” he said.
“Richmond now has over 130 ensuite rooms and at present we need every one of them with the ongoing Queensland Rail Works Program that is expected to go out to September and again next year” said Cr Wharton.
Investing in the rail line was an investment in jobs and the region’s industries said Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey.
“Queensland’s North West Mineral Province contains about 75 per cent of the state’s base metal and minerals, including copper, lead, zinc, silver, gold and phosphate deposits.
“We repaired the line in record time last year, have provided $80 million to reduce rail charges and incentivise freight exports, and we’re rolling millions of dollars to improve the line, making the freight journey faster and more reliable.”
In continuing maintenance work, Queensland Rail will close the network for 35 hours to perform a full track relay of the Mundic Creek Bridge (east of Pentland) on 14th July, said Queensland Rail’s General Manager, Supply Chain North, Wayne Prosser.
Queensland Rail Asset Teams will upgrade the track structure to 60kg/m rail on pandrol e-clip concrete sleepers with new high-grade ballast, said Mr Prosser.
“While the track is closed, Queensland Rail will additionally perform ballast undercutting near Pentland; undertake a full turnout replacement at Charters Towers and continue with the re-sleepering near Richmond,” he said.
“Trains have been scheduled to run in close succession during this period to keep disruption to freight movements down to a minimum.
“In the long term this project will improve efficiencies ensuring greater capacity for the Mount Isa to Townsville line.”