Queensland Rail has created a dedicated taskforce to lead the recovery of more than 200 kilometres of flood-damaged track on the Mount Isa Line between Richmond and Oorindi.
The taskforce met for the first time in Townsville today.
Queensland Rail's CEO Nick Easy said more than 400 Queensland Rail employees and contractors would be mobilised to work on the repairs, which were now well underway.
"Our coordinated recovery crew will allow us to condense the Mount Isa Line's repair time down to eight to twelve weeks, subject to favourable weather and construction conditions," Mr Easy said.
"That would have us reopening the line between late April and mid-May 2019.
"We will continue to identify opportunities wherever possible to accelerate repairs so we can open it earlier if possible.
"Queensland Rail is allocating every possible resource to the Mount Isa Line recovery work."
Mr Easy said the dedicated taskforce would coordinate the efforts of engineers and track workers – including those brought in from South East Queensland – in addition to surveyors, earthworks, excavators, truck operators and traffic control.
The taskforce will also be part of the recovery of the Pacific National train at Nelia, east of Julia Creek.
"Pacific National is finalising its recovery plans for the train, wagons and products, with support from Queensland Rail and Glencore," Mr Easy said.
"The option of a rail deviation around the Nelia site will be explored by the taskforce, should Pacific National's recovery take longer than repairs to the Mount Isa Line."
Mr Easy said 50 damaged sites on the Mount Isa Line spanning 100 kilometres between Richmond and Hughenden had already been reinstated, allowing repair trains to start operating through the area today (Monday 25 February).
"We are now focused on 150 damaged sites, spanning 200 kilometres west of Richmond through to Oorindi," Mr Easy said.
"The damage between Richmond and Oorindi includes track washouts and scouring, 16 damaged rail bridges, damage to track formations, and many locations where access roads, culverts and drainage have also been damaged or washed away.
"Two ballast trains are positioned at either end of the damaged section and we will be working closely with earthworks contractors to repair access roads, track formations and surfaces, and replace ballast and track from both east and west.
"We are absolutely focused on opening the Mount Isa Line as soon as we can safely do so and will continue to keep the community and our stakeholders informed as updates become available."