A temporary intermodal facility is on track to open at Hughenden early next week, enabling freight operators to transfer containerised freight from truck to train for rail transport into Townsville while repairs continue west of Richmond on the Mount Isa line.
Queensland Rail CEO Nick Easy said Queensland Rail had been working with freight operators and their end customers on opportunities to utilise the reopened section of track between Richmond and Mount Isa, while repairs continued west of Richmond until late-April to mid-May 2019.
Queensland Rail is now focused on a remaining 55-kilometre section of outstanding repair works, between Nonda and Quarrells, including the construction of a deviation around a site at Nelia where a Pacific National train was inundated by the unprecedented flooding event in early February.
"The Mount Isa rail line is a vital freight corridor that transports more than 84,000 tonnes of various freight commodities to Queensland businesses and manufacturers each week," Mr Easy said.
"On 23 March 2019, a temporary bulk fertiliser facility commenced operating, enabling the first freight train movements to recommence between Richmond and Townsville.
"Adding to this, an intermodal facility is in construction at Hughenden, which will provide the necessary interim supply chain capacity for the North West Minerals Province once the facility opens early next week.
"These contingency measures will provide support to local industries and reduce the volume of trucks on the Finder's Highway, while major repair works to reopen the line between Richmond and Mount Isa continue.
"The Hughenden transfer terminal was jointly funded by Queensland Rail and the Department of Transport and Main Roads and will operate in collaboration with Toll, which will mobilise equipment and personnel to site later this week and facilitate the site's operations and logistics.
"A local Hughenden-based contractor, SJ and SC Reddie, was engaged by Queensland Rail to construct a hardstand to support the operations, which has involved preparing the site and importing approximately 2,200 cubic metres of fill material to enable large forklifts to transport mineral products in containers weighing up to 25 tonnes from trucks to trains at the terminal.
"At this stage, we anticipate the first freight service will depart Hughenden for Townsville early next week."
Mr Easy said in addition to the construction of the transfer terminal at Hughenden, significant progress had also been made along the Mount Isa line and at the Nelia site, where the Pacific National freight train overturned by unprecedented flood waters was now completely removed.
"The locomotive was lifted by crane and was towed from the Nelia site by truck on 8 April, following the earlier removal of all 81 wagons," Mr Easy said.
"The 1.2-kilometre rail deviation around the Nelia site is also now complete, which will enable trains to resume through Nelia once broader repairs along the line are complete, allowing for environmental remediation works to get underway.
"In addition, corrugated metal pipes have been installed at Richmond to further enhance the durability of the newly repaired line in the event of wet weather.
"The line between Cloncurry and Mount Isa remains on track to reopen between late-April and mid-May and we will continue to keep industry and the community updated as we near these dates."