Queensland Rail's Taskforce is continuing to spearhead unprecedented flood repairs on the Mount Isa Line between Cloncurry and Richmond.
Queensland Rail's CEO Nick Easy said repairs were on schedule, with good progress continuing to be made by Queensland Rail crews and contractors.
"On Monday (4 March) our crews deemed the Richmond to Hughenden section open for all rail traffic, following final repairs to 50 damaged sites spanning 100 kilometres," Mr Easy said.
"We are now working closely with our freight operators and their customers on options to restore services through this section and opportunities for freight to be loaded on and off trains at both Richmond and Hughenden.
"We will be continuing to work with our freight operators and their customers over the coming week to finalise these plans."
Mr Easy said ongoing repair and recovery works for the remaining damaged section between Richmond and Cloncurry was on track, with crews progressively working from both east and west.
"We remain on track to reopen the entire Mount Isa Line between late-April and Mid-May, subject to construction and weather conditions.
"We are monitoring weather forecasts daily and are working with our crews to plan around the expected wet weather next week.
"A number of critical sites requiring repairs remain impaired by wet ground conditions, and to combat this, our crews arranged for 3 kilometres of plastic mats, or 28 semi-trailer loads, to be delivered to site and have started constructing temporary access roads at several locations, including the Gilliat River and Eastern Creek rail bridges. The teams will continue to utilise this matting as required to build access roads in areas which remain wet as repairs continue.
"Overall, work is progressing well to date and we will continue to provide weekly updates on our progress."
Mr Easy said with more than 400 Queensland Rail employees and contractors to be mobilised to Julia Creek and Richmond to accelerate the repair and recovery work, Queensland Rail had partnered with the Department of Public Works and Housing to establish workers camps at Richmond and Julia Creek.
"A 60-bed camp is being established in Richmond to accommodate employees and contractors working on the recovery and another 120-bed camp will also be set up in Julia Creek to accommodate recovery works at Nelia," Mr Easy said.
"Accommodation presented a significant challenge for the recovery work, but now that a solution has been identified and is being implemented, the Taskforce is confident it can mobilise all of the crews and contractors required to accelerate the recovery program.
"Local contractors have been engaged to transport mobile, stackable buildings on trailers which will house workers unable to be accommodated in local motels and caravan parks and local suppliers in each town will also be hired to provide food, cleaning and supplies to the camps.
"The camps are expected to be operational within the next two weeks, if not earlier."
Mr Easy said Pacific National was also in the final stages of establishing a crane pad and an appropriate access road to the Pacific National train at Nelia, to enable the upcoming recovery of its train and wagons.
"Queensland Rail plans to build a rail deviation around the Nelia site, so that we can resume train services in the event that the recovery of the Pacific National train takes longer than the remainder of the repair works for the Mount Isa Line. Surveying and early earthworks are now underway for the deviation.
"A site office has also been established to allow for the coordination of this site as works ramp up.
"Simultaneously, the environmental consultant appointed by Queensland Rail, Glencore and Pacific National, is progressing sampling and monitoring activities in order to assess the impacts from the incident. Liaison with the community, the Department of Environment and Science and Department of Agriculture and Fisheries is ongoing."
Summary of recovery works completed by track teams within the past week:
Eastern Track Team:
- Ballasting and resurfacing completed Hughenden to Richmond and this section declared fit for rail traffic
- Bridge works at O'Connell Creek and Carragh Creek completed
- Track formation rebuild at O'Connell Creek completed and track relaying commenced
- Track rebuild at Carragh Creek completed
- Chatfield Creek bridge repairs have commenced
- Access roads being constructed between Maxwelton and Nelia
- Washout repairs to many of the sites ahead of schedule to allow for earthworks.
Western Track Team:
- Site access has been built from Goldring Street to Julia Creek bridge
- Compacted rockfill has been built up on both sides of the rail embankment in preparation for formation works from Gilliat to Eastern Creek
- Formation works have been completed from Gilliat to Tibarri in preparation for the relaying of rail and ballast
- Contractors are completing installation of compacted rockfill and capping fill across several sites.