An update from Queensland Rail's Acting CEO, Kat Stapleton:
Queensland Rail is prioritising the safe restoration of services on the Mount Isa line between Charters Towers and Townsville.
Personnel have been onsite since Wednesday morning and recovery efforts with heavy machinery are anticipated to commence tomorrow (Friday, 1 January 2021).
At this stage, works are estimated to be completed by late Tuesday, 5 January 2021, subject to weather.
Investigations are continuing into the freight train derailment that occurred early Wednesday morning (30 December 2020), which is believed to be the result of an extreme localised weather event that impacted track infrastructure.
As a result of the derailment, some of the soluble phosphorus-based fertiliser onboard has been spilt with containment measures activated as we plan a safe recovery.
Network Control teams were monitoring track and weather conditions prior to the incident through visual inspections and multiple weather monitoring stations, which did not register any extreme weather activity in the area.
Queensland Rail is committed to ensuring the safety of the Mount Isa line, with stringent safety protocols and maintenance programs in place along the 1032 kilometres of track.
Queensland Rail continues to invest in improving rail infrastructure along the line with $360 million in capital upgrades and maintenance work planned to be invested over the next five years from 2020-21. This is in addition to the more than $338 million spent in the last five years.
The Mount Isa line will remain closed to freight and passenger services between Charters Towers and Townsville until the safe recovery of impacted wagons and their contents can take place.
Inlander passenger services are temporarily being replaced by road coaches and we urge customers to contact 1800 872 467 or visit queenslandrailtravel.com.au for information about their booking.
Further updates will be shared with community, freight partners and stakeholders as investigations continue and recovery efforts progress.